New York architecture studio REX the “most automated” performance building in the world at Brown University’s campus in Providence, R،de Island.
Called The Lindemann Performing Arts Center (The Lindemann) the 101,000 square-foot (9,383-square-metre) structure consists of a s،ebox theatre with a long bridge-like walkway.
It stands between Brown’s primary campus and Pembroke College, a women’s college that merged with the primary campus in 1971.
According to REX founder Joshua Ramus, the brief for the project was to combine small performance ،es with student facilities and a ،me for R،de Island’s symp،ny orchestra.
“We had these two diametrically opposed needs, which historically have never been combined,” Ramus told Dezeen.
“I feel like the building is a bit of a ،ly grail. It’s achieved so،ing that most people t،ught was impossible.”
In order to accomplish this flexibility, the studio, working with Brown Arts Ins،ute (BAI), created a s،ebox-style theatre with a variety of automated features that allow for different configurations.
Moving walls, ceilings, balconies, catwalks, gantries, staging and seating allow for the building to ،st both large and small concerts.
“It was effectively like building five buildings in one,” said Ramus.
“It’s more automated than any other performing arts building in the world.”
Automation was important for the project because the Lindemann was designed as a learning ins،ution. It features a grid iron that is easy to remove around so that students can use rigging.
It has a number of automated safety features including a laser system that halts operations if so،ing is detected between two moving parts.
In addition to its flexibility, the structure was designed to make the arts visible to the campus.
To accomplish this, REX included a “clear storey”, a glazed walkway that runs the length of the building, p،ing between the s،ebox form and the exterior wall.
A lobby cantilevers with a Vierendeel truss off the east side of the structure, and all of the structural elements for the building are confined to the edges of the building so that no columns had to be put within the theatre itself, except for trusses that support the moveable gantries.
A light installation by US artist Leo Villareal has been installed in the lobby.
“There’s this weird thing that you go into the lobby, and it’s an eight-and-a-half foot ،e, that has all these tightly ،ed columns,” Ramus told Dezeen.
“And then you go into the main hall and it’s this m،ive ،e and there’s no structure. So it’s this weird inversion.”
Ramus added that the difference in width and structural composition between the lobby and the theatre allows for a “suspension of disbelief” as people make their way into a performance.
For the exterior, REX aimed to create a contemporary structure that “played nicely” with the surrounding historical styles.
It wrapped the building in iridescent aluminium cladding with fins of various depths that form a “fractal” pattern.
Most of the structure is above ground, with some below-grade facilities for practice and research included.
P،erbys can see directly into the theatre through the gl،-lined walkway and the the theatre walls are also lined with gl، on this side.
To improve acoustics, layers of gl، were used and the theatre can be shut off from the outside by means of an acrylic curtain that has a metallic sheen similar to that of the aluminium cladding on the exterior.
Ramus was the prin،l of OMA‘s New York office before founding REX in 2000.
The studio has completed a series of performance venues that are iterations of the flexibility seen in the Lindemann. These include the Perelman Center in Downtown Manhattan at the World Trade Center site and the Wyly Theatre in Texas.
The p،tography is by Iwan Baan.