A Creative Remodeling of Alvin Ailey
Completed in 2004, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has announced a planned three-story expansion atop its headquarters at 405 West 55th Street, located on the corner of Ninth Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen. The new space is dubbed the Elaine P. Wynn & Family Foundation Education Wing, and will expand an already amazing building.
Founded in 1958, the Alvin Ailey Theater was initially comprised solely of African-Americans and sought to interpret and express their experiences through a style-based as much in spirituality, soul, and social commentary as it was in technique and innovative movement. Completely redefining dance in America, Ailey’s most prominent work with this group, entitled “Revelations,” quickly established them as the one of the most creative set of dancers in the country.
The space was quickly bursting at the seams so the foundation required a new expansion adding approximately 10,227 square feet of space, up from 50,786. It will feature four new dance studios, two classrooms, and offices on the current 8-floor structure that highlights glass curtain walls to show transparency to the city. The current building already houses 12 dance studios; a 5,000-square-foot black box theater with flexible seating for 295; adjacent green room and concession stand/boutique; dressing rooms and warm-up areas; archive and library facilities; costume shop; physical therapy facilities; lounges; and administrative offices. In addition to all of these areas, the building also features long-distance learning capabilities in various studios and the performance theater.
The original architect, Gramercy-based Iu + Bibliowicz Architects has already been tapped as the architect of record for the expansion. The architects understand the space is integral to the success and creativity of the students. The original structure highlighted large-scale curving Teflon “veils” on top off the structure and serve to mask the building’s mechanical equipment on the roof. These forms were drawn from Ailey’s signature dance “Revelations,” referencing the “Wade in the Water” section that uses large, billowy, white and blue fabric stretched across the stage to symbolize a river. These forms are repeated in the canopy marquee over the entrance to offer an inviting welcome into the building at street level.
Working with Iu + Bibliowicz Architects are structural engineers from Gilsanz Murray Steficek and the general contractor Structure Tone. The team knew just as important in keeping the consistent look and feel of the striking exterior was hiring a firm that knew how to seamlessly make the expansion meld into the current structure. They have tapped nationally-acclaimed installers from W&W Glass to make it happen.
Since this is an expansion and not an original building, W&W Glass is going to carefully remove 2,400 square-foot of existing curtain wall at the lower three floors prior to installing 7,400 square-foot of new curtain wall onto the existing structure and new addition atop the building. They will set unitized curtain wall panels connected onto the existing portion of the structure via existing embed anchors and new ones on the addition.
W&W Glass has selected Erie Architectural Products’ Enviro Facades™ unitized curtain wall system for the project. Well-engineered and rigorously third-party tested, the EF Series™ proves to be the product of choice for high-performance custom facades. It is the ideal solution for conditions requiring exceptional thermal , air, water, and structural performance all while meeting the distinct architectural requirements of the project for remodeling and new construction.
The panels are a combination of four-sided and two-sided structural silicone glazing. The maximum panel size is 100 inches x 288 inches. The insulating glass units feature an Interpane Ipasol Neutral 70/37 high-performance low-e coating with a custom silk-screened frit pattern on clear glass fabricated by BGT (Bischoff Glastechnik AG) in Germany. The maximum insulating glass unit size is 98 inches x 170 inches. Glass was sourced from Europe due to the oversized nature and high quality level required.
Approximately a third of the new installation occurs at a courtyard which is inaccessible from the street. One unique aspect to the appearance of the curtain wall is a silk-screened “wave pattern” of frit resulting in a custom pattern for each unit affected. The building’s core spaces, enclosed by red brick, are a subtle gesture to Manhattan’s Clinton District with its numerous tenement brick buildings.
Completion of the expansion is expected in the fall of 2017. Not only is Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater the home for members of its company and school to rehearse and take classes, but they have an extension program that allows for anyone at any level of expertise to take a class taught by one of Ailey’s incredible teachers. The stunning views of the surrounding area from the upper floors of the building serve as quite the backdrop for the dancing that takes place within. There are a wide range of classes offered including Salsa, Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Hip-Hop, Latin Jazz Fusion, Horton, Zumba, Samba and Afro-Brazilian.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, recognized by U.S. Congressional resolution as a vital American “Cultural Ambassador to the World,” has performed for over 23 million people in 48 states and in 71 countries on 6 continents, celebrating the African-American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition.
W&W Glass LLC is a family owned business with a 70-year history in the metal and glass industry, one of the largest metal and glass companies in the New York metropolitan area and the largest supplier of structural glass systems in the country. We have over two decades of experience in the design and installation of various building enclosure systems, including stick-built curtain walls, pre-glazed unitized curtain walls, Pilkington Planar™ structural glass facades, and custom metal and glass enclosure systems. We install all of our work with our own dedicated union labor force. W&W is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area.
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