Manhattan, NY The Harlem School of the Arts (HSA) at the Herb Alpert Center has broken ground on The Renaissance Project, the most substantial renovation of the building, undertaken by the organization since its construction 40-years-ago. Located at 645 Saint Nicholas Ave., the school has been providing children with access to arts programs in all four disciplines music, dance, theater, and art & design for 55 years, and has added programs for adults.
Funded by the Herb Alpert Foundation, the $9.5 million renovation project promises a facility to deepen artistic interaction and optimize the spaces for a wide range of events, exhibitions, and performances. The project includes both structural and acoustical upgrades.
The renovation, led by Imrey Studio LLC, replaces a section of the building’s 1970 brick exterior with clear glass, to bring HSA’s spaces in to view. The design reinforces Dorothy Maynor’s vision to make art accessible to everyone.
“This new transparency will increase the school’s connection to Harlem’s vibrant cultural community,” said Celia Imrey, principal designer and director of Imrey Studio LLC, a New York based design firm that specializes in cultural institutions. The architect of record on the project is Eric Daniels, Daniels Architect P.C. Eric brings over 30-years of experience in architecture and interior design, focusing on high-end residential, hospitality and corporate projects.
The project will transform the 3,700 s/f, double-height lobby into a light-filled multifunctional environment. The Walters-Storyk Design Group will provide the new atrium with finely tuned acoustics.
Herb Alpert said, “The new design is going to change the place. After 40 years we wanted to update its architecture, adding an acoustical design that’s worthy of the school’s great history.”
“This is an exciting time for HSA, the community, and the arts in Harlem,” said Eric Pryor, president of HSA.
Over the past nine years, the Herb Alpert Foundation’s financial support to HSA has totaled $17 million. Through the original 2010 gift from the Foundation, HSA was able to overcome a financial crisis that almost closed the school permanently. “It’s been almost a decade since Herb Alpert and his wife, Lani Hall Alpert, first reached out to help HSA. That grand gesture of concern and their commitment to keeping the arts alive for the children and families in Harlem launched a deep relationship between the foundation and the leadership of the school,” said Rona Sebastian, president of the Herb Alpert Foundation. “Over these years, we have provided HSA support in many ways beyond financial...from governance participation to outreach, communications and forging new partnerships. Along the way, we have felt great pride watching the organization’s growth and the impact it has had on the local communities it serves.”
“We were very pleased to have Herb Alpert reach out to us for this project,“ said John Storyk. “Herb’s appreciation for the importance of acoustical design is based on his vast experience as an incomparable musician and recording executive.”
Charles Hamilton, Jr., chair of the HSA board said, “I am always delighted when I enter HSA and feel the energy and excitement throughout the building. It’s like a beehive of activity. I’m looking forward to the completion of the extraordinary Renaissance Project, which will entice the community to come in and be a part of the wonderful artistic programming inside.”