St. Ann's Warehouse Begins Construction on Tobacco Warehouse
This morning, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, St. Ann's Warehouse Founder and Artistic Director Susan Feldman, St. Ann's Warehouse Executive Director Andrew D. Hamingson, St. Ann's Warehouse Board Chair Joseph S. Steinberg, Brooklyn Bridge Park President Regina Myer, NYC Council Member Stephen Levin, State Senator Daniel Squadron and others broke ground at the Tobacco Warehouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The event signals the beginning of St. Ann's $27 million development of the historic building, originally constructed in 1861, into a 25,000 SF performing arts center and community hub on the Brooklyn waterfront. The Tobacco Warehouse will serve as a permanent home for St. Ann's, which has activated found spaces for cultural use in downtown Brooklyn since in 1980. The non-profit organization plans to present its opening season in the Brooklyn Bridge Park warehouse in Fall 2015.
"Today is another big day for Brooklyn Bridge Park - and the beginning of a great new chapter in the history of the Tobacco Warehouse and the St. Ann's Warehouse performing arts institution," said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "The renovated Warehouse will house a multi-use space for artists, schools, and community groups and will be a wonderful addition to New York's proud tradition of arts and culture in our public parks."
St. Ann's Warehouse Founder and Artistic Director Susan Feldman said, "We have so many people to thank, most especially the Mayor and his fantastic colleagues and staff in City Government for never giving up on the Tobacco Warehouse, and for assuring its future life for generations. Without them, I am convinced it would have fallen. The groundbreaking is a true celebration we can share with our neighbors and with each other. It took more than a village to save this place. It took our neighborhoods, city, state and the country, all working together."
Andrew D. Hamingson, St. Ann's Executive Director stated, "After 35 years, it is a dream come true for St. Ann's Warehouse to have a permanent home in Brooklyn Bridge Park. This will be a one of a kind, world-class performing arts center on the New York Waterfront that will serve artists, audiences, and our community for generations. We are so grateful to the St. Ann's Board of Directors, led by Chairman Joseph Steinberg, and our amazing staff who have helped to make St. Ann's such a vibrant New York City cultural organization."
In its current, roofless state, the Tobacco Warehouse assumes a trapezoidal footprint made up of a rectangle and an adjacent triangle. With St. Ann's Warehouse, Marvel Architects PLLC has designed an 18,000 SF enclosed building with a flexible performance space the size and signature style of St. Ann's previous warehouse theaters; a second, 1,000 SF multi-use community space for local artists, educational and community groups; artists' support spaces; offices, and a waterside lobby with many archways and access points to Brooklyn Bridge Park. The original brick walls are to be preserved and visible throughout the foyers, theater and Community Room.
The 7,600 SF triangle space will be left open-air, and is imagined as a walled birch tree grove, to be landscaped by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and open to the public, through its many open arches, during Park hours. The original walls for the Triangle Garden will be experienced first-hand by park visitors seeking shelter from the wind or shade from the sun. It may also serve as an entranceway for the theater and Community Room from New Dock Street.
"The architectural challenge for us was to preserve the historic brick walls while designing a 21st Century Theater building," said Jonathan Marvel. "The glass bricks are the perfect way to extend the pre-Civil War walls without competing with them. The glass brick clerestory allows light to penetrate in the daytime, and becomes a glowing beacon in the evening, visible from within the park and across the East River."
"We are so pleased to be moving forward in our partnership with St. Ann's Warehouse. Through this collaborative effort, we will breathe new life into the Tobacco Warehouse and create a unique cultural amenity in the park," said Regina Myer, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Borough President Marty Markowitz said, "After 35 years, St. Ann's Warehouse is at home. Congratulations to President and Artistic Director Susan Feldman and Executive Director Andy Hamingson, along with the entire St. Ann's Warehouse board and its chair, Joe Steinberg, for seeing the future of American avant-garde theatre right here in the historic Tobacco Warehouse. Susan, your years in wandering are finally over! Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg and First Deputy Mayor Patti Harris, as well as Brooklyn Bridge Park President Regina Myer, for your support of this new space and your dedication to the cultural enrichment of New Yorkers. One thing is for certain- for decades ahead, the St. Ann's audience will come to one of the most beautiful places on Earth, on the banks of the East River, to see exciting, groundbreaking music and Theater Productions with award-winning artists. Bravo!"
Of the $27 million capital campaign to preserve the walls and activate the Tobacco Warehouse, St. Ann's Warehouse has to date secured $25 million from public and private sources.
This project has been made possible by the leadership of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Borough President Marty Markowitz, NYC Speaker Christine Quinn, NYC Council Member Stephen Levin, NYS Senator Daniel Squadron, NYS Assembly Member Joan Millman, Deputy Mayors Robert Steel and Patricia Harris, NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, NYC Dept. of Parks Commissioner Veronica White, NYS Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey and Brooklyn Bridge Park President Regina Myer, among others.
"The renovation of the iconic Tobacco Warehouse will create a dynamic new cultural center in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and a transformative new home for one of New York's most exciting performing arts organizations," said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin. "St. Ann's Warehouse will serve as a vital new community hub for artists, audiences, Dumbo residents and visitors from around the world."
Speaker Christine Quinn said, "St. Ann's has been an enormous contributor to New York's great cultural community for decades. We couldn't be prouder to ensure that St. Ann's has a permanent home on our city's waterfront where they can continue to enrich the lives of New Yorkers for years to come."
City Council Member Stephen Levin said, "Brooklyn is home to the most creative people in the world who are on the cutting edge of the most exciting art of our day, and St. Ann's Warehouse is no exception. As we break ground today at the Tobacco Warehouse, we are providing a permanent home for St. Ann's innovative work and further committing to Brooklyn's role as a leader in the arts, while honoring our borough's industrial past with an architectural design that respects this unique structure. I want to thank the many great partners who made this project possible and extend my congratulations to Susan Feldman and Andrew Hamingson on finding a terrific new home for St. Ann's Warehouse."
"Brooklyn Bridge Park deserves a world-class arts venue, and, with these plans, St. Ann's Warehouse has excelled at meeting that need," said Domenic Recchia, NYC Council Finance Chair. "I'm pleased that we were able to come together to make this a reality; it reflects the great value this administration and this City have rightly placed on the arts. Smart investments like this will only add to the ongoing revitalization of the neighborhood, as well as the cultural capital of the City as a whole."
State Senator Daniel Squadron said, "I'm pleased that we were able to preserve the Tobacco Warehouse, ensure community access, expand Brooklyn Bridge Park, and find a permanent home for St. Ann's Warehouse here in the DUMBO community it's called home. From the local artists and community groups who will keep the community vibrant, to the New Yorkers and visitors who will have yet another reason to enjoy our spectacular waterfront, this is a real step forward for our community and our city. Thank you to St. Ann's Warehouse, my colleagues in government, and all of the community members who worked together to get us here today."
State Assembly Member Joan Millman commented, "I am delighted that St. Ann's is moving forward with the development of the Tobacco Warehouse. St. Ann's will maintain the original brick walls and iconic arches into the design of their new home. My congratulations to Susan Feldman and Regina Myer for their hard work and devotion to transforming this space for both artists and the public to enjoy for decades."
St. Ann's Warehouse began as Arts at St. Ann's, an adaptive reuse program of the National Historic Landmark Church of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity in Brooklyn Heights from 1980-2000. As The St. Ann Center for Restoration and the Arts, Inc, the organization evolved to oversee the restoration of the church's historic staiNed Glass windows, wood frames and brownstone façade in association with the New York Landmarks Conservancy and World Monuments Fund. In 2001, the Walentas family donated use of a former spice-milling warehouse at 38 Water Street in DUMBO, where The St. Ann Center became St. Ann's Warehouse, artistic home for American avant-garde companies (The Wooster Group, Mabou Mines) international companies and artists of distinction (the Donmar Warehouse, Enda Walsh, Daniel Kitson, Kneehigh Theatre, TR Warszawa, National Theatre of Scotland), and emerging artists (Cynthia Hopkins, Dan Hurlin). St. Ann's Warehouse has built a global reputation over the last twelve years presenting an eclectic body of innovative theater and concerts. When 38 Water Street was to be demolished last year, St Ann's built a temporary home in its current warehouse at 29 Jay Street, thanks to landlord Forman Ferry LLC.
Joseph S. Steinberg, Chairman of the St. Ann's Board, said, "We are thrilled to realize our longstanding dream to rebuild the Tobacco Warehouse as a home for St. Ann's Warehouse."
About St. Ann's Warehouse
For over three decades, St. Ann's has commissioned, produced and presented an eclectic body of innovative theater and concert presentations that meet at the intersection of theater and rock and roll. Since 2001, the organization has helped vitalize the emerging Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood, DUMBO, where St. Ann's Warehouse has become one of New York City's most important and compelling live performance destinations.
Through its signature multi-artist concerts and groundbreaking music/theater collaborations, St. Ann's Warehouse has become the artistic home for the American avant-garde, international companies of stature and award-winning emerging artists. Highly acclaimed landmark productions include Lou Reed's and John Cale's Songs for 'Drella; Marianne Faithfull's Seven Deadly Sins; Artistic Director Susan Feldman's Band in Berlin; Charlie Kaufman and the Coen Brothers' Theater of the New Ear; The Royal Court Theater's 4:48 Psychosis; The Globe Theatre of London's Measure for Measure; Druid Company's The Walworth Farce, The New Electric Ballroom and Penelope; Enda Walsh's Misterman, featuring Cillian Murphy; Lou Reed's Berlin; the National Theater of Scotland's acclaimed Black Watch; Kneehigh Theatre's Brief Encounter; Yael Farber's Mies Julie; and the Donmar all female Julius Caesar, currently playing. St. Ann's has championed such artists as The Wooster Group, Jeff Buckley, Cynthia Hopkins, Enda Walsh, Emma Rice, and Daniel Kitson.
St. Ann's Warehouse has been awarded the Ross Wetzsteon OBIE Award for the development of new work. The OBIE Award Committee honored St. Ann's for "inviting artists to treat their cavernous DUMBO space as both an inspiring laboratory and a sleek venue where its super-informed audience charges the atmosphere with hip vitality."
St. Ann's Warehouse Board of Directors includes Joseph S. Steinberg (Chairman), Susan Feldman (President, Artistic Director), Steven B. Rissman (Vice President), Kay Ellen Consolver (Treasurer), Thomas H. French (Secretary), Ronald E. Feiner, Elizabeth B. Gormley, Stephen Hendel, Anatoly Lezhen, Janno Lieber, Adam E. Max, Thomas T. Newell, Anthony D. Schlesinger, David Wagner and David C. Walentas.