Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, Brown University / Diller Scofidio + Renfro

© Iwan Baan

The Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, recently opened for spring semester classes at Brown University. Providing performance space, exhibitions, installations, and an outdoor amphitheater, the Center’s long structural spans, high ceilings, and large floor plates stimulate a necessary collaborative environment with flexibility. Seeking LEED Gold certification, the exterior venetian blind system and green roof are just a few of the sustainable features for the Granoff Center.

Charles Renfro, partner-in-charge for the project, stated the following about Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s design:

In creating the design for the Granoff Center, we needed structural elements that would stimulate the creative process from virtually every aspect of the building. The Granoff Center is a merger of architectural gesture and academic pedagogy. Our strategy was to encourage and illustrate collaboration across every level.

The six half-levels that make up the Granoff Center were derived from a stacked floor slab system. The three initial floors were divided in half down the length of the building and then offset. This intentional misalignement provided a unique connection between levels, therefore the landings were expanded, providing gathering space for breakout sessions for both students and faculty.

Architects: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Location: , Rhode Island,
Acoustician: JaffeHolden
Construction Management: Shawmut Design & Construction
Project Area: 38,815 sqf
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Iwan Baan

© Iwan Baan

The Granoff Center embodies the goal of the Creative Arts Council to advance innovative directions for research, teaching, and production across the boundaries of individual arts disciplines. Specifically, the Center will allow for the development of programs and courses based on the collaboration of artists, scientists, and scholars to create new art forms, explore new approaches to collaboration, and extend the knowledge of the creative process.

split section

Program spaces:

• 218-seat recital hall/ 35mm film screening venue
• Four studios for production of performance art, installations, visual art, music, audio, video and film.
• Recording studio suite.
• Media Lab for production via computer.
• Physical Media Lab for production and research in sensors, robotics, and physical computing
• Five project studios, allowing for individual, rather than collective, work
• Gallery
• Smart classroom

© Iwan Baan

Program spaces are interconnected by:

• A split level structure displaced in section to create six half-levels. A full height interior glass “cleave wall” is inserted between each half-level promoting viewing between program spaces while maintaining critical acoustical isolation
• Break-out spaces named “Living rooms” cantilevered into atrium space and located off of a connecting stairway and furnished with comfortable furniture and equipped for presentation
• A building-wide audio-visual network with a central “brain” that supports the simultaneous capture and projection of AV information from space to space
• Multi-use lobby/event space
• Two elevators – one dedicated to the Granoff Center and the other to the adjacent Brown Office Building (BOB) loading dock
• An underground connection to the adjacent Brown Office Building

section perspective

Program spaces go public via:

• Full height glazing facing The Campus Walk, a series of linked green spaces that provide a central pedestrian connector between Brown’s historic campus and the Pembroke campus.
• An outdoor amphitheater situated with view into the Recital hall and wired for sound and video and with motorized outdoor projection screen, allowing outdoor performances, film screenings, summer movies, and installations and integrated with the building data and audio-visual network for simultaneous projection and view into the auditorium.
• Zinc metal exterior rain screen folded around windows for view from Angell and Olive streets
• Public gallery program and temporary exhibitions
• Art wall at Angell Street entry

© Iwan Baan

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, Brown University / Diller Scofidio + Renfro" 15 Feb 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <>
  • Scott Lagstrom

    Interesting concept. I can appreciate the time that went in to design the facade being pulled back to reveal the small slices of windows on the side facades. I like the half levels but would be curious to see the floor plans for this – mainly how circulation interacts between the floors. Seems like there may be some redundancy because of the separation.
    I would have liked to hear more about how or why they chose a scheme of “C’s” facing each other. Perhaps as a response to the street. I think that it emphasizes the inward focus of the program to look into each other.

  • Chris Carlton

    What’s nice about DS+R is they seem to be aware of cost and economy, while still making architecture. I really like the simple moves here, from the crimped up accordion exterior to the split level interaction.