Architecture and design practice REX has unveiled their design for Brown University’s new Performing Arts Center. The academic and cultural building was made to be a flexible and adaptable space that serves as a hub for performance. Combining a multi-functional main hall with an open stage floor, the design addresses the need for a dedicated performance space suitable for large ensembles. The new center was designed to encourage collaboration and inspire new modes of artistic and cultural production.
At its heart, a horizontal “clearstory” slices through the building’s façade at stage level. This open floor extends the main performance hall and provides connection to the surrounding campus. The main hall can transform into five different stage and audience configurations, ranging from a 625-seat symphony orchestra hall, to a 250-seat proscenium theater, to a surround-sound cube for experimental media performance.
The building will be shrink-wrapped in an extruded aluminum rainscreen composed of fractal-like fluted geometry. Intersecting the vertical flutes, the 13-foot horizontal clearstory slices through the building, revealing the interior of the main floor. Inside, REX designed a space in which all six surfaces of the shoebox-shaped hall can modulate physically and/or acoustically. Components such as seating gantries, acoustic curtains, reflector panels and lighting bridges can be shifted, hidden and stretched to configure the space.
Beyond the main hall, a suite of modern studios, rehearsal spaces and intimate performance venues will serve as everyday academic resources for students and faculty. Joshua Ramus, founder and principal of REX, called the building both radically flexible and extremely precise. “It is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ auditorium, mediocre to all and excellent for none,” Ramus said. The PAC is designed to serve as a hub not only for performing arts scholarship at Brown but also as a compelling performance venue for arts and culture in Providence.
Brown unveiled initial plans for the PAC in 2017 after launching the Brown Arts Initiative (BAI), a campus-wide effort to make the University a vibrant laboratory for inventive arts practice and scholarship. The release of the renderings follows a two-year planning, design and community engagement process and a recent vote by the Corporation of Brown University to authorize site work at the PAC’s approved location on Angell Street in Providence.
The University’s target date for completion is spring 2022.