St. Ann's Warehouse: Tobacco Warehouse

Brooklyn, NY, USA

A transformation of the pre-Civil War Tobacco Warehouse on the waterfront in Brooklyn Bridge Park into a 21st century, state-of-the-art theatre designed by Marvel Architects, with theatre, acoustics and lighting consultancy by Charcoalblue.

St. Ann's Warehouse exterior

The exterior of St. Ann's Warehouse in Dumbo.

The new St. Ann’s Warehouse is a 25,000 sq ft complex which includes two flexible performance spaces, a series of public foyers, and an outdoor garden designed by Brooklyn Bridge Park landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

For the first time in the history of St. Ann’s Warehouse, their entire operation, including administrative offices are on the same site as their theatre. The building’s centrepiece is a 10,000 sq ft flexible theatre space, with capacity for 300 to 800 people, to accommodate St. Ann’s core theatre and music programming, large-scale festivals, and special community milestone events. The facility also houses a 1,000 sq ft multi-use studio, suited for intimate, smaller-scale programs and activities by local artists and community groups. Flexible theatrical infrastructure was spread throughout the building, including extending the vast overhead catwalk system throughout the lobby and public circulation spaces. In this building, the performances can, and do, happen anywhere.

“Charcoalblue are master theatre-makers who know how to keep architects honest and focused on making space, structure and systems that serve the artists.”

Susan Feldman, Artistic Director, St Ann’s Warehouse

A concept sketch of the new home for St. Ann's Warehouse.

The transformation of the pre-Civil War Tobacco Warehouse on the waterfront in Brooklyn Bridge Park begins.

The building was designed by New York's Marvel Architects, with theatre, acoustics and lighting consultancy by Charcoalblue.

Charcoalblue were involved with the project from 2010 offering full theatre design and planning, technical and acoustic design services.

We were more than happy to put our name to the project.

The new building allows an inventive approach for companies from around the world to play in a robust and highly functional performance space that challenges expectations and thrills audiences and artists alike. St. Ann’s had developed this approach over years of working in found warehouse spaces and were eager to find new ways to approach flexibility in their new home.

We were involved with the project from 2010 offering full theatre design and planning, technical and acoustic design services. Starting from the initial open RFP, we worked with H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture to win the site for St. Ann’s. Then we worked to move the company into a temporary building with Beyer Blinder Belle Architects on Jay Street. Finally, we worked with Marvel Architects on the new scheme for the Tobacco Warehouse, which opened Autumn 2015.

“I'd say it's the single best location for a performing-arts center in NYC, and a top 10 contender worldwide.”

Tweet by Elisabeth Vincentelli (freelance writer for NY Post)

The building’s centrepiece is a 10,000 sq ft flexible theatre space, with capacity for 300 to 800 people.

“Charcoalblue delivered a highly functional (and carefully unobtrusive) technical backbone, supporting a space of simple, honest beauty”

Owen Hughes, Consultant

From the inside, it allows an almost instantaneous transformation from daylight to blackout, improving the daily lives of artists and technicians alike.

“The building’s main organizing principle is that performances can happen anywhere, and there are no permanent lines between back of house and front of house.”

Jerad Schomer, New York Studio Principal

An explosive show takes to the stage.

The entire building scheme represents a sensitive insertion of a highly technical and functional performance space into the historic fabric of the existing brick walls – which were stabilized and restored but otherwise unmodified during the project. Additional height for the technical catwalks was provided by a glass brick clerestory, suffusing the entire theatre and lobby with natural light during the day. From the outside this lit clerestory has the appearance of a lantern beckoning patrons to the waterfront entrance lobby. From the inside, it allows an almost instantaneous transformation from daylight to blackout, improving the daily lives of artists and technicians alike, who never knew what a difference daylight in a performance space could make.

Watch the team discuss the project.

Project Details

Client

St. Ann's Warehouse

Project cost

$31.6m

Completed

2015

Awards

AIA New York State Design Award of Excellence
AIA National Honor Award for Architecture

Additional height for the technical catwalks was provided by a glass brick clerestory, suffusing the entire theatre and lobby with natural light during the day.

“Having all those intelligent, creative minds come together makes the good ideas come to the top faster than if you’re sitting alone in the attic trying to sketch it out.”

Jonathan J Marvel - Marvel Architects

Section drawing of St. Ann's Warehouse

Some of the many seating and staging configurations that can now be achieved.

Initial concept drawings of the bespoke seating at St. Ann's Warehouse created with Kirwin and Simpson.

Credits

Architect

Marvel Architects

Seating design contractor

Kirwin and Simpson

Construction Manager

Yorke Construction Corp

Structural Engineer

Silman

Photography

David Sundberg

Jerad Schomer

Have a question about St. Ann's or theatre design? Speak to Jerad.

+1.212.645.0790

Jerad Schomer

Have a question about St. Ann's or theatre design? Speak to Jerad.

Contact Jerad

+1.212.645.0790