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.
Designed with services donated by the design team, 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.