Rockefeller Arts Center addition given prestigious architecture award

Submitted Photo The Rockefeller Arts Center new studio complex.

The major addition to and dramatic re-conceiving of the Michael C. Rockefeller Arts Center at the State University of New York at Fredonia received a 2018 American Architecture Award, a nationwide honor that recognizes new cutting-edge works of architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture.

Designed by New York City-based Deborah Berke & Partners, the three-story addition was among just over 100 select buildings to be recognized with the award, announced by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

“We were very excited to learn about this second major award recognizing the Rockefeller addition,” said Ralph Blasting, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “Last year the project won top honors from the Buffalo/WNY chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The 2018 American Architecture Award is a testament to Deborah Berke & Partners’ collaborative and innovative vision. We are proud to be able to work with our students in such an outstanding facility.”

The $40 million project added 40,000 square feet of space to the Rockefeller complex that was designed by I.M. Pei and Partners and completed in 1969.

Known as the Studio Complex, the new space opened in October 2016. The material design of long concrete walls in the original building was inverted in the addition by a palette of metal and glass walls with accents of concrete details. A climate-controlled corridor connects Rockefeller to Mason Hall, home of the School of Music, and successfully bridges the different architectural styles of the two buildings.

An intermingling of the arts – how students learn today – is facilitated by the project’s design. The addition consists of classrooms, sculpture and ceramics studios, teaching and performance spaces for theatre and dance, a new primary entrance and expanded scenic and costume shops.

A jury comprised of New York architects and educators selected projects for the American Architecture Award from a short list of over 300 building and urban planning projects.