A few weeks ago, intern Elis and the OHNY Staff visited the construction site of the future home for Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA) in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Designed by renowned architect Hugh Hardy and being built by Sciame Construction, the building is at once simple yet elegant, and dynamic, yet intimate. A LEED certified building with a 35-foot high space and reconfigurable stage, TFANA’s new home is sure to be a new theatre for the modern audience.
Founded in 1979 by Jeffrey Horowitz, Theatre for a New Audience is a New York City performing arts organization devoted to the vitalization and study of Shakespeare and classic drama. Its move to Fort Greene is doubly exciting for TFANA, not only because it will become a part of the BAM Cultural District, but also because it will be the organization’s first permanent home.
Formerly a parking lot, the site is quickly on its way to becoming a stunning LEED certified, 27,500-square-foot building. Exterior green features, include triple glazed windows on its front façade, and rain screens on the building’s side and rear.
TFANA’s glass front and open lobby will create an engaging space on multiple levels. While inside, visitors will be able to gaze out onto the bustling neighborhood without ever feeling closed in. Interior design features also include cantilever balconies anchored only at one end, which enhances and further opens up the space. These over hanging balconies, made possible by receded H-frame columns, make it so visitors on the highest balcony never feel disconnected from visitors in the lower lobby, creating a feeling of intimacy.
TFANA’s auditorium is designed for equality, enabling a more dynamic use for the space. With a deep trapdoor and 35-foot ceiling (twice the height of off-Broadway theatres), the stage will certainly allow for surprising entrances from above and below. Depending on the production, stage and orchestra level seating can be rearranged into four different configurations – proscenium, thrust, runway, or in the round. Each set-up will provide a different level of interaction with the audience. Behind the mainstage will also be an additional space that when opened, can be used to increase stage depth. When closed, the space can be used for performances and rehearsals.
Three levels of seating galleries wrap around the orchestra, but a sense of intimacy is never lost. Even from the highest level, the stage never feels far away. Inspired by the British Royal National Theatre’s Cottlesloe Theatre, TFANA’s adaptable space explores what a theatre can be.
Theatre for a New Audience’s ribbon cutting and first performance will take place in October 2013.
Our thanks to Anthony Frontino from Sciame Construction and David Haakenson, project architect at H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture for providing this tour for us. We look forward to a return visit when the theatre is completed!
262 Ashland Place
Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Renderings credit: H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture
Photo credit: Elis Shin