Rensselaer Breaks Ground for New Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center

September 19, 2003

From the office of communications

TROY, N.Y. - President Shirley Ann Jackson, Rensselaer trustees and administrators, and community leaders gathered today to break ground for the new Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The ceremony took place at the Folsom Library, near the site of the future EMPAC building.

"This is an auspicious day for Rensselaer, for it marks another beginning. It signals another development in the Renaissance at Rensselaer - a new enrichment of campus life and of the student experience," said President Jackson. "EMPAC will offer artists, students, researchers, and audiences opportunities that are available nowhere under a single roof."

"EMPAC will enable Rensselaer students to study at the nexus of research, technology and the performing arts, where they will discover new opportunities for creativity and discovery," said EMPAC Director Johannes Goebel.

"Rensselaer is committed to making EMPAC a prime research facility, an intellectual force on the Rensselaer campus, a gathering point for communities in the Capital Region, and a leading resource on the world's cultural scene," Goebel said.

EMPAC will provide the whole range, from performance spaces for traditional performances, to prime spaces for media application. EMPAC will house a 1,200-seat concert hall, designed to the highest standards for performance and listening, and a 400-seat theater with an 80-foot-by-40-foot stage and fly-tower capability.

In addition, EMPAC will include a 3,500-square-foot black-box studio with a 40-foot-high ceiling optimized for theater, dance and visual presentations, spanning from multi-screen to virtual immersive environments. EMPAC will incorporate acoustical properties, artistic lighting, and technologically adaptable performance spaces to support visualization, simulation, and animation studies.

EMPAC also will support a 2,500-square-foot black-box studio with a 28-foot ceiling optimized for music and multimedia performances; a 1,400-square-foot rehearsal and dance studio, four studios for artists-in-residence; professional-level recording, editing, and post-production facilities for audio and video; and digital broadcasting facilities for Rensselaer's student radio station WRPI.

The design architect for EMPAC is Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners from London and New York, acclaimed designers for the Eden Project, the Royal College of Art, and International Terminal Waterloo. The architect of record is New York City architectural firm Davis Brody Bond. Working in collaboration with the architects are theater designers Fisher Dachs Associates and acousticians Kirkegaard Associates, both leaders in their fields.

The $141.7 million project has been approved by the City of Troy Planning Commission, and construction will soon be underway.

About Rensselaer

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is the nation's oldest technological university. The school offers degrees in engineering, the sciences, information technology, architecture, management, and the humanities and social sciences. Institute programs serve undergraduates, graduate students, and working professionals around the world. Rensselaer faculty are known for pre-eminence in research conducted in a wide range of research centers that are characterized by strong industry partnerships. The Institute is especially well known for its success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace so that new discoveries and inventions benefit human life, protect the environment, and strengthen economic development.