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Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.

The Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University by Diller Scofidio + Renfro

February 18th, 2011 by Sanjay Gangal

The Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University is a 38,815 square-foot, three-story, interdisciplinary arts center at the heart of the College Hill campus, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

The Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University

The Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University

  • Architect – Diller Scofidio + Renfro
  • Location: Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
  • Size – 38,815 GSF
  • Cost – $40M
  • Schedule – Occupancy / Completion of February 2011
  • Acoustician – Jaffe Holden
  • CM – Shawmut Design & Construction

The Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University

Snow time - The Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University

Brown University will officially opened the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts Feb. 10, 2011. The interdisciplinary arts center will foster innovation, research, collaboration, creativity, and education among the arts, humanities, and sciences and will be a focal point of the University’s College Hill campus. The 38,815-square-foot, three-story building is designed by the New York-based architecture firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

The $40-million Granoff Center is a revolutionary new building dedicated to encouraging faculty and students to create bold new directions for research, teaching, and production across the boundaries of individual arts disciplines and among artists, scientists, and scholars.

“The Granoff Center reaffirms the University’s belief that the arts are integral to a liberal education,” said Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons. “The Center builds on academic excellence at Brown and promotes multidisciplinary engagement among students and faculty. We especially wish to acknowledge the tireless work, leadership, and generosity of Marty and Perry Granoff, who, along with other donors, made this building possible.”

The Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University

At night - The Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University

The Center features:

  • The Martinos Auditorium, a 218-person auditorium and 35mm screening facility, which will serve as a performance venue and lecture hall.
  • Four production studios for interdisciplinary work.
  • The Cohen Gallery, which will host interdepartmental, student, and visiting artist exhibitions.
  • A recording studio for professional sound recording, sound design, and multimedia work.
  • The Khoo Teck Puat Multimedia Lab with equipment and software to allow students and faculty to create freely and stretch the boundaries of art and technology.

The Cogut Physical Media Lab to be used for production of and research in sensors, robotics, and physical computing, primary areas of new research and teaching in the arts.
An outdoor amphitheater wired for sound and video, allowing outdoor performances, film screenings, and installations.

“In creating the design for the Granoff Center, we needed structural elements that would stimulate the creative process from virtually every aspect of the building,” said Charles Renfro, partner-in-charge for the project. “The Granoff Center is a merger of architectural gesture and academic pedagogy. Our strategy was to encourage and illustrate collaboration across every level.”

“The Granoff Center is the embodiment of a movement that started 40 years ago to revisit the University’s approach to excellence in liberal arts education through cross-departmental ways to teach and learn,” said Richard Fishman, professor of visual art and director of the Creative Arts Council at Brown. “The building was designed specifically to serve the synergistic nature of the program. It encourages just the type of interdisciplinary collaboration Brown has historically been noted for, and will continue to develop in the future.”

The Granoff Center is an entirely donor-funded project. Marty Granoff, a Brown parent and member of the Corporation of Brown University, led the fundraising efforts. The Center was named in honor of Perry and Marty Granoff for their extraordinary leadership and generosity on behalf of the University.

Time to dance

Time to dance

“The Center is a groundbreaking and truly unique facility designed specifically for interdisciplinary work between various and often disparate arts disciplines. It puts Brown in the forefront of creating revolutionary and exciting areas of art,” Granoff said. “We are all looking forward to the results of what promises to be remarkable work and achievement.”

University students will attend their first classes in the Granoff Center on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011. Courses include “Experimental Musical Instrument Design,” “Curating Contemporary Art,” and “Narrative and Immersion.”

In addition, the building includes elements that will open the Center to the community, including the Cohen Gallery, which will house exhibitions and installations; performance spaces; and an outdoor amphitheatre. Loop, a Julianne Swartz exhibition, will inaugurate the Cohen Gallery on view from February 4 to March 20.

Practice time

Practice time

Design highlights

The Granoff Center is conceived as the next generation loft building with a twist. In addition to its large floor plates, high ceilings, and long structural spans that allow great flexibility, the architecture fosters a collaborative environment. The concept involves three stacked floor slabs that are cut in half and slipped vertically to create six half-levels divided by a shear glass wall. The intentional misalignment connects each studio to one above and below while still maintaining light, sound, and visual control. An internal stair connects all levels and doubles as the social hub of the building; its landings are expanded into furnished breakout spaces for serendipitous and planned encounters between students and faculty. The split-level strategy is also realized at the ground: The landscape in front of the building is split in two. One half is tilted up to form the entrance lobby and public gallery; the other half is tipped down into an outdoor amphitheater that flows into the recital hall. The transparent west facade is open to the campus and general public while the surrounding zinc skin is pleated at the sides to bring in light and view selectively.

The University worked with Shawmut Design and Construction to build the Granoff Center, which is targeting a gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green building. Apex Green Roofs designed the self-sustaining green roof and JaffeHolden designed acoustics for the Martinos Auditorium. An independent report on the economic impact of the Center’s construction and operation estimates the project created nearly 310 jobs in construction and related industries in Rhode Island.

Parking Structure

Parking Structure

Program spaces:

  • 218-seat recital hall/ 35mm film screening venue
  • Four studios for production of performance art, installations, visual art, music, audio, video and film.
  • Recording studio suite.
  • Media Lab for production via computer.
  • Physical Media Lab for production and research in sensors, robotics, and physical computing
  • Project studios, allowing for individual, rather than collective, work
  • Gallery
  • Smart classroom

Concert Hall


Program spaces are interconnected by:

  • A split level structure displaced in section to create six half-levels. A full height interior glass “cleave wall” is inserted between each half-level promoting viewing between program spaces while maintaining critical acoustical isolation.
  • Break-out spaces named ”Living rooms” cantilevered into atrium space and located off of a connecting stairway and furnished with comfortable furniture and equipped for presentation.
  • A building-wide audio-visual network with a central “brain” that supports the simultaneous capture and projection of AV information from space to space.
  • Multi-use lobby/event space
  • Two elevators – One dedicated to the Granoff Center and the other to the adjacent Brown Office Building loading dock
  • An underground connection to the adjacent Brown Office Building
  • Program spaces go public via:
  • Full height glazing facing The Campus Walk, a series of linked green spaces that provide a central pedestrian connector between Brown’s historic campus and the Pembroke campus.
  • An outdoor amphitheater situated with view into the Recital hall and wired for sound and video and with motorized outdoor projection screen, allowing outdoor performances, film screenings, summer movies, and installations and integrated with the building data and audio-visual network for simultaneous projection and view into the Auditorium.
  • Zinc metal exterior rain screen folded around windows for view from Angell and Olive streets
  • – Public gallery program and temporary exhibitions.
  • – Art wall at Angell St entry.



  • Floors – Polished concrete, exposed-aggregate concrete, stainless steel grating, carpet, ceramic tile, bamboo, ash & oak wood flooring
  • Walls – painted gyp board, acoustical panels, acoustical glass assemblies, ash wood plank system at recital hall, plywood panels, stainless steel mesh guardrail at atrium, blackened steel, board-formed concrete, zinc metal.
  • Ceilings – Exposed concrete, suspended acoustical panels, suspended perforated metal panels, painted gyp board.

Sustainable Features:

  • Makes use of campus HTHW and CHW system
  • Targeting is LEED Gold
  • Green roof
  • Exterior Venetian blind
Contact Diller Scofidio + Renfro

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