St. Ann’s Warehouse

Brooklyn, NY, USA

Set within Brooklyn Bridge Park, the development of the historic Tobacco Warehouse is the first permanent home for St. Ann’s, a distinctive and diverse theater company that has been running for over 30 years. The work to regenerate the dilapidated warehouse building included preserving the original brickwork and scenic archways, while delivering a state of the art, flexible theater space that allows full creative freedom for the artists. The sustainably designed St. Ann’s Warehouse recently received LEED Gold certification.

Challenge

Preserving the building fabric of the 1860’s, Tobacco Warehouse presented a number of challenges for our team, including ensuring occupant comfort and achieving the acoustic performance necessary for a contemporary theater. With the original exterior brick walls forming a key part of the design, we needed to devise a solution to keep the interior spaces at a comfortable temperature in the winter months.

Every square inch of the space is highly valuable, so optimizing the use of space and successfully integrating systems at St. Ann’s Warehouse was an essential part of the design. Our team needed to devise MEP systems that were both fit for purpose and worked with the design of the theater.
Another key goal for the design team was to minimize the impact of any potential future flooding while ensuring that the theater space remained highly flexible.

Maintaining the fabric of the 1860s building presented us with a number of challenges, not least incorporating MEP provision. Image: Buro Happold

Solution

In order to retain the original building fabric, we installed a fin tube system to provide radiant heating at the perimeter of the lobby, theater and community room. As well as reducing heating demand and improving acoustic performance, the warmed brick walls also provide a comfortable environment for theatregoers.

Our team moved key electrical and mechanical equipment to the mezzanine and roof levels of the building, leaving only essential plumbing and utilities at ground level. This, combined with details such as ensuring electrical points on the ground floor are located higher on the wall than usual, reduces the time and costs involved in getting the building back up and running following a flood.

Energy efficient solutions, including a highly insulated roof and triple glazed windows, maintain comfortable interior temperatures. Image: Dustin Nelson

Preserving the historic brickwork for the future was a key part of this project

Julie Janiski, Associate Principal

To meet the minimum 20% energy cost reduction required, we incorporated solutions including a highly insulated roof and triple glazed windows, both of which also benefit the acoustic performance of the space. Systems such as an efficient chiller, condensing boilers, energy recovery ventilation and occupancy sensors contribute to the building’s energy efficient credentials. We also installed a number of water saving features, including low-flow water closets and sinks, to meet our target of reducing water use inside the building by over 25%. Externally, our storm water management routes water into Brooklyn Park’s existing retention systems to reduce impact on the city infrastructure.

The warehouse features a black box theater, which allows production companies to place the stage and audience in a location of their choice within an adaptable space. Our team formulated a services system that offers complete flexibility for the theater. The ductwork is fully integrated into the network of catwalks and theater rigging to protect the maximum height available.

Value

The LEED Gold certified St. Ann’s Warehouse offers a unique space for creativity, promoting community engagement with the arts and artistic ingenuity for the performers. The project demonstrates how innovative adaptive reuse of celebrated buildings can preserve a piece of history while providing exceptional facilities for future generations.

The regeneration of this historic building provides a flexible, comfortable theater environment. Image: Dustin Nelson

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