Plans for EMPAC reviewed, revised

Scott Robertson: Senior Reporter - The Polytechnic
News Type

Program managers in charge of the construction of the new Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center are creating a schematic design extension for the building, according to Martin Moore, EMPAC integration manager.

The EMPAC schematic designs had to undergo a number of revisions to take into account the current excavation projects and seismic analysis. The plans won't be finalized until May 2, but EMPAC is still scheduled for completion in 2006.

Once the building opens, EMPAC's programs will be content-based rather than strictly technology focused. This means that potential projects will be evaluated on how well they stimulate intellectual growth and contribute to EMPAC's artistic vision.

"EMPAC is all about the meaning and creating sense. I believe art is all about meaning and the quest for truth," said Johannes Goebel, director of EMPAC.

EMPAC will host an artist residency program and stage events that integrate experimental and classical themes.

Visiting artists will spend months designing projects in high-tech visualization and production suites in "a really superb technological and performance infrastructure" so that they can create "stimuli to figure out what everything [in life] is about," said Goebel.

To fulfill that search for meaning, EMPAC is being designed as a unique facility with a 1200-seat lecture hall and two black box rooms that can minimize background noise.

EMPAC projectors and other presentation equipment will be shielded in soundproof boxes away from their surrounding environment.

"Everything will be [very] quiet ... That will enhance the [audience's] experience so much," said Goebel.

Student groups, such as the symphony orchestra, pep band, and jazz ensemble will be able to use a shared practice space at EMPAC, and WRPI will move into a modern 1500-foot broadcast studio once the building has been completed.

Although EMPAC is not part of an RPI academic department, it will serve as a test bed for music and art research from the departments, such as sensor technology and signal processing devices. Goebel has already begun introducing the EMPAC research program to professors in the five academic schools.

"The biggest challenge is to integrate EMPAC into what Rensselaer [already] is," Goebel sai

February 1, 2002