LMCC Arts Center by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners opens in New York

Pei Cobb Freed & Partners,

Nicole Saraniero / Untapped Cities, Zachary Tyler Newton, Brian J. Green,

New York, USA,

Architecture and Culture, Ristrutturazione, Public Buildings,


The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) opened its new Arts Center at Governors Island in New York Harbor. The pro bono project by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners is the latest piece in the ongoing transformation of the island, a former military base, into a vibrant cultural destination.

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LMCC Arts Center by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners opens in New York The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), founded in 1973 to serve local artists and the community with grants, studio space, and public exhibitions and events has its first permanent home: a nineteenth-century munitions warehouse on Governors Island in New York Harbor, which has been converted into the LMCC Arts Center. The project is part of the transformation of the island, a former military base into a vibrant cultural destination. The recovery programme unlocking the potential of Governors Island by investing in arts, culture and education aims at growing Governors Island as a creative hub for New Yorkers from across the five boroughs. 
New York-based architects, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners led a team that provided pro bono design services to LMCC to restore and renovate the nearly-150-year-old structure, situated on the island’s northern edge.
To accommodate the organisation’s eclectic programme, the architects opened up the interior of the long and narrow two-storey building—previously a warren of military offices—and exposed and restored the original truss structure, creating upwards of 3700 square metres of flexible, loft-like space.
The facility includes a luminous main gallery on the upper level, with an adjoining reception area behind a clear glass wall that preserves the expansive quality of the space. Natural light plays an important part in the project. The smaller rooms for performances, rehearsals, and exhibitions as well as art studios located on both levels enjoy abundant daylight.  A new staircase and elevator allow for integrated, accessible programming, and a café on the lower level, framed by an exposed-brick wall, offers great views of Lower Manhattan and the harbour.  
The project by the award-winning New York-based Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, a leader in architectural design and sustainability, retained the steel, wood, and brick from the existing building, and at the same time incorporated energy-efficient systems throughout to keep down the environmental impact of the new LMCC Arts Center.
In line with the mission of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) to serve artists through residencies, grant funding, and presentation opportunities that allow artists to share their work and creative process with the public, the new centre’s inaugural season features two exhibitions: “The Power of Two Suns” by Yto Barrada with guest artist Bettina, and “Extinct in New York” by Michael Wang, plus a special installation by Yoko Ono. This autumn, the seventeen artists selected for LMCC’s first year-round residency program will participate in an open-studio weekend, giving visitors a glimpse of work in progress in the new spaces that showcase the real potential of legacies from our past, also in metropolitan contexts. 

Christiane Bürklein

Project: Pei Cobb Freed & Partners - https://www.pcf-p.com/
Location: Governors Island, New York
Year: 2019
Image: Nicole Saraniero / Untapped Cities, Brian J. Green, Zachary Tyler Newton, David Gonsier


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