Diller Scofidio + Renfro's Granoff Center consolidates the university's arts departments
Brown University’s Creative Arts Council encourages communication and collaboration between arts disciplines, but until the construction of the Granoff Center, the Brown campus had no facility that housed all of the arts departments under one roof and directly served this interdisciplinary mission. The Granoff Center was charged with creating a range of flexible spaces that would foster creative collaboration and could be adapted for use by a number of departments and programs.
Since its opening in February 2011, the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts has advanced new directions in teaching and research and crossed boundaries between the arts, sciences and the humanities. The 36,000-sq-ft building includes a 200-seat recital hall and 35mm screening facility, a recording studio, multimedia lab, gallery space, and large multi-purpose production studios.
Next in the species of the loft typology, the building is made up of large uninterrupted floor plates with interior surfaces ranging from raw to refined. The building program utilises three floor plates that fill the site envelope. These floor plates are cut in the short axis along a shear line, and displaced in section to create six half levels, each with different technical and physical properties. The structured misalignment is a sectional opportunity, allowing each floor to interface two others conjoined by a shear glass wall.
The landings of the main circulation stair are expanded and conceived as vertically stacked living rooms for serendipitous and planned encounters. The exterior landscape shears as well, half inclined toward the entrance lobby and half descending along the rake of the recital hall. Students and passersby are invited into this outdoor theater to witness activities on stage or screen.
The Granoff Center is a merger of architectural gesture and academic pedagogy that encourages and illustrates collaboration across every level. The building shapes the educational practices it houses by displaying and encouraging creative exchange and promoting cross-disciplinary collaboration. Its flexible interior spaces can be adapted by various academic departments and a wide range of users, opening the Center to unexpected future uses. The Center enhances the entire Brown campus by connecting the previously disjointed areas of the University and expanding the network of open spaces. These new public spaces allow for new forms of interaction within the University community and also with the surrounding urban residents.