The Arts Center at Governors Island
Lead DesignersJay L. Berman Christopher Jend
Part of the ongoing transformation of New York’s Governors Island into a vibrant cultural destination, this adaptive reuse of an 1870s munitions storage warehouse supports local artists while providing generous space for public exhibitions and events.
The new arts center is the first permanent home on the island for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), founded in 1973 to serve local artists and the community with grants, studio space, and public exhibitions and events. To accommodate the organization’s eclectic program, the design called for opening up the interior of the long and narrow two-story building—previously a warren of military offices—and exposing and restoring the original truss structure, creating 40,000 square feet of flexible, loft-like space.
The facility includes a luminous main gallery on the upper level, with an adjoining reception area behind a clear glass wall that preserves the expansive quality of the space. Smaller rooms for performance, rehearsal, and exhibition as well as art studios arrayed on both levels enjoy abundant natural light. A new stair and elevator allow for integrated, accessible programming, and a café on the lower level, framed by an exposed-brick wall, offers views of Lower Manhattan and the harbor. In addition to retaining much of the brick, wood, and steel from the existing building, the renovation incorporates energy-efficient systems throughout.
At the north end of Governors Island in New York Harbor, just west of Soissons Landing, where the ferry from Lower Manhattan docks
40,000 ft2 / 3,700 m2 gross area; new reception area, expanded gallery space, renovated studio space, café, new elevator and public stair
pro bono architectural design
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
American Institute of Architects, New York City Chapter, 2021
Winner, Cultural Projects, World Design Awards
The Architecture Community, 2020
American Architecture Award
Chicago Athenaeum, 2020
Design Award of Merit
Society of American Registered Architects, New York Council, 2020
Best Projects Award, Cultural/Worship
Engineering News Record New York, 2020
Executive Architect: Adamson Associates; Structural and M/E/P: Buro Happold Consulting Engineers PC, New York; Images: Zachary Tyler Newton, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, Nicole Saraniero / Untapped Cities, David Gonsier, Brian J. Green