Photo © Iwan Baan

Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts

Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Providence, Rhode Island
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Owner: Brown University

Completion Date:  February 2011

Program: A three-story, 38,815-square-foot interdisciplinary arts center for a mix of Brown University's departments, including theater, dance, music, and visual art. The programs, which make up the university's Creative Arts Council, all have dedicated buildings on campus; the new center gives them a shared space where their students can come together to develop and exhibit their work. The building includes a 200-seat recital hall and screening facility, a multimedia lab, a recording studio, large multipurpose production studios, a wood shop, offices, and gallery space. Double-height rooms on the top floor serve as flexible installation and performance spaces. A green in front of the main (west) facade features grass-covered steps and doubles as an outdoor amphitheater; a flat swath of zinc paneling on the facade accommodates a projection screen.

Design concept and solution: In keeping with the spirit of collaboration that brought the Creative Arts Council's programs together in one building, the architects sought to visually unite the three levels of the steel-moment-frame and post-tensioned-concrete slab structure. Like a building that has undergone its own sort of creative intervention, the Granoff Center is cleaved vertically down the middle and offset slightly, creating six half-levels faced in glass. An acoustic-grade glass partition divides the two sides of the structure from each other, so that each floor looks onto the levels just below and just above it. An atrium housing a steel cantilevered stair backs up to both halves of the building. The architects outfitted the staircase with large landings, or "living rooms," with informal seating and lighting. Dotting each level along the main circulation route, these living rooms provide a place for meetings both planned and impromptu. On the exterior, the center's zinc-panel cladding undergoes its own transformation. Like the cleaved and displaced building halves, the facade suggests another form of force: on the north and south facades, the panels gradually pinch together until they are creased like the bellows of an accordion, folding up to accommodate windows toward the rear of the building.

Total construction cost: $27 million

Location: Providence, Rhode Island

Diller Scofidio + Renfro
601 W. 26th Street, 1815
New York, NY 10001
P: 212.260.7971
F: 212.260.7924

November 2011
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