Renovation and Improvement Plans
We are excited to announce the upcoming launch of a renovation project tied to our mission of access to the arts for all. Construction, led by Li/Saltzman Architects, will result in key upgrades to the center’s architecture that will support our values of inclusivity, transparency, and accessibility.
Abrons Arts Center is widely regarded as a case study for the role that architecture can play in facilitating access to the arts for a diverse community. Originally built as the Arts for Living Center–an extension to Henry Street Settlement’s historic Neighborhood Playhouse–the center was designed in 1975 by architect Lo-Yi Chan of the firm Prentice & Chan, Ohlhausen. In collaboration with an intergenerational cohort of local residents, the firm developed a design for a new kind of urban arts center for the 20th century, one that would serve a wide array of needs and interests of local and visiting communities.
“Abrons Arts Center and Henry Street Settlement are excited to build on the dynamic architecture of the center to further increase access to our services for the community,” says Ali Rosa-Salas, vice president of visual and performing arts at Henry Street Settlement. “This is an opportunity to have our values be borne out by our physical space.”
“We are making Abrons Arts Center, which is a significant cultural resource in our city, more sustainable, accessible, and adaptable for its 21st century life,” says Judith Saltzman, founding principal of Li/Saltzman Architects.
This renovation project is made possible with transformative capital support from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, whose $2 million gift to Henry Street Settlement will help resource the construction. In acknowledgement of their support, the renovated Amphitheater will be named the Miriam and Harold Steinberg Plaza.
“We are grateful that the Steinbergs have positioned Henry Street Settlement to deepen our service to the Lower East Side through arts and culture,” says David Garza, president & CEO of Henry Street Settlement. “With their investment, we will be able to build upon the important legacy of the Arts Center and develop new models for creative expression, place making, and community belonging.”
- A redesign of the Abrons Arts Center entrance to include a LULA (limited use/limited application elevator) so that everyone can enter and access the center from a common entry point
- A redesign of the lobby to facilitate a more welcoming point of entry for visitors, inclusive of new signage
- Two new ADA-compliant restrooms in the building’s main lobby
- The construction of a ramp in the Upper Gallery to make the space accessible to all artists and audiences
- An expansion of the Main Gallery, increasing the space to host community events and visual art
- Construction of a new vestibule for the Experimental Theater that separates the sound and light of the Main Gallery and the theater.
What will construction mean for Abrons’ operations?
While construction is underway, Abrons Arts Center will continue its performances, classes, and other programs in collaboration with Henry Street Settlement and other community partners. In lieu of summer camp this year, Abrons will host free workshops at Henry Street Settlement sites and offer an Urban Youth Theater intensive. Abrons’s annual visual artist AIRspace exhibition will be hosted in June nearby at CCProjects on Allen Street.
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We will keep our community updated as construction approaches and progresses. We are appreciative of your support and extension of grace as the Arts Center makes these improvements to our spaces.
Transformative capital support for the re-envisioning of the Miriam and Harold Steinberg Plaza comes from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. Additional support is provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Office of the Manhattan Borough President, Solon E. Summerfield Foundation, Inc., and the generosity of Henry Street’s Board of Directors.