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Harlem School of the Arts Announces $9.5 Million Renovation

Category: Art & Culture,Theater

The Harlem School of the Arts on Wednesday announced a renovation that will give its facility a major face-lift. Called “The Renaissance Project,” the $9.5 million revamp will be funded by the Herb Alpert Foundation and is scheduled to begin in August.

The architect Ulrich Franzen originally designed the building in the 1970s, giving it a Brutalist-style brick exterior. The renovation will replace that with a glass wall allowing for expansive views of the facility’s interior. Other improvements include architectural and acoustic redesigns for the central gallery space; a new roof and new windows that will make the building more energy efficient; and makeovers for the cafe, lounge and courtyard garden.

“It’s a beautiful school the way it is,” said Alpert, the musician and philanthropist who started the foundation with his wife, Lani Hall, in 1988. “It’s helping a lot of kids and it’s a wonderful environment, but I just want to bring it up to the 21st century.”

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The foundation has donated $7.5 million to the school to fund educational programs in recent years. It helped the school get back on its feet after financial struggles forced it to shut down in 2010.

“The building should be seen as a space that invites people in,” Eric Pryor, the school’s president, said in a statement. “It has always been an oasis on the inside, but that has not generally been known. The community needs to see who we are and know that we are committed to providing cultural programming for everyone.”

The transformation of the 37,000-square-foot structure will take a year, and will be led by Imrey Studio, a New York-based company that has worked on projects for the Rubin Museum of Art and the New York Public Library.

The Harlem school was founded in 1964 by the soprano Dorothy Maynor. It provides training in music, dance, theater and art and design for young students in and around Manhattan.

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