Adding to the growing cache of projects in place for the Brooklyn Academy
of Music’s Cultural District in Fort Greene, the mayor has unveiled
designs for an ultramodern, $335.8 million, 299-seat Theater for a New
Designed by architects Frank Gehry and Hugh Hardy, the four-story building,
at Flatbush and Lafayette avenues, will give the troupe, known for performing
Shakespeare and classical drama, a stage inspired by one used by London’s
Royal National Theater, with high ceilings and a trapped floor.
The designers called it “both intimate and epic.”
The development site, which will come to include a 110,000-square-foot
visual and performing arts branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, replaces
what is now a BAM parking lot and a privately run gardening center.
Joined on Feb. 3 by officials from the theater group, Borough President
Marty Markowitz, Council members Letitia James and David Yassky, city
Arts Commissioner Kate Levin, and representatives of the Economic Development
Corporation and the Brooklyn Academy of Music Local Development Corporation,
Mayor Michael Bloomberg helped unveil the plans at the studio of the Mark
Morris Dance Troupe. The city is contributing $6.2 million for the theater.
“This new theater will be an important anchor for the BAM Cultural
District, which is an essential component of our effort to expand the
city’s third-largest business district in Downtown Brooklyn,”
the mayor said.
“Combined, the Downtown Brooklyn rezoning, the Atlantic Yards development,
and the BAM Cultural District will result in the creation of 500,000 square
feet of new space for the arts, almost 7 million square feet of office
space, 5,500 mixed-income apartments, over 1 million square feet of retail,
and a 19,000-seat arena,” a mayoral press release boasted, factoring
in developer Bruce Ratner’s plans for a basketball arena and 17 office
and residential skyscrapers emanating from the intersection of Atlantic
and Flatbush avenues.
The theater project is the second to move forward in the cultural district.
The first, an office building for arts groups at 80 Hanson Pl., is nearing
“William Shakespeare, your new home away from home is Flatbush-upon-Lafayette!”
The BAM Cultural District, a $650 million project, came about as a partnership
between the city and the BAM Local Development Corporation to help transfer
and finance the renewal of vacant or underutilized properties around BAM
to further the arts scene in Fort Greene.
With goals of creating affordable space for arts organizations and arts-related
educational programming, as well as beautifying the streetscapes and public
areas and expanding the housing market, the LDC has had little difficulty
garnering the interest of private and public donors.
While the chairman of the BAM LDC, Harvey Lichtenstein, has some detractors
in the largely black Fort Greene community who say his artistic preferences
are “Eurocentric” and fear the LDC will show preference to white
arts groups, the ambitions of the development corporation to keep the
area artsy have been supported by the city officials both vocally and
James, whose district includes the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the cultural
district and the nearby communities of Fort Greene and Prospect Heights,
has been involved in a group called the Concerned Citizens Coalition,
comprised of religious leaders and residents who want to address potential
displacement of with the coming of the cultural district.
Nevertheless, she, too, spoke highly of the new theater.
“Theater for a New Audience creates world-class theater and maintains
as a core mission an inspiring commitment to community-based education,”
“At a time when arts and culture in our schools are being cut, welcome
to Fort Greene.”
©2005 Community News Group