Rockefeller Arts Center — fostering creativity for the 21st Century

Fredonia, NY
60,000 square feet new construction
40,000 square feet renovation
LEED Silver certified
Type: Academic / Arts / Adaptive Reuse
Theme: Making & Learning

We were hired by New York’s State University Construction Fund to design an arts complex addition, dramatically reconceiving the 1968 I.M. Pei complex on the SUNY Fredonia campus. We created a linear addition at the west facade, transforming the former service side of the building into a primary entrance. We inverted the existing material language of long concrete walls by employing a palette of metal and glass walls with accents of concrete details.

Our addition includes classrooms, sculpture and ceramics studios, performance spaces for music and dance, and a variety of shops and other shared facilities, including areas for set design and construction.

Corridors walled with tackboard double as critique spaces and informal galleries. Ceramics studios remain unadorned, built to withstand the heavy use of art making.

Floor-to-ceiling windows fill the dance studio with light, opening rehearsals to campus and turning the building into a nighttime beacon.

The existing building’s language was one of long concrete walls punctured with metal and glass, a combination we inverted to create a lighter palette where concrete is reserved for detailing. Throughout the glass façade, metal fins shade the building from heavy sun, adding texture and depth to the facades.

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This transformative project has fulfilled the university’s master plan to unite the visual and performing arts in one building, and it has created a new gateway to the arts on campus to better serve students as well as the general public. This project was more than a decade in the making, and we could not be happier with the results.

Virginia Horvath, President, SUNY Fredonia



Robert Silman Associates
Structural Engineer

Lakhani & Jordan Engineers
MEP Engineer

Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects
Landscape Architect

Larsen Engineers
Civil Engineer

Harvey Marshall Berling & Associates
Theater/AV/Acoustics/ ITconsultant

PHT Lighting Design, Inc.
Lighting Designer

Front, Inc.
Facade Consultant

Fisher Associates
Geotechnical Engineer

I.M. Pei & Partners
Original Architect, 1968


Merit Award
AIA Tri-State

Excelsior Award
AIA New York State

Design Award of Merit
AIA New York

Architecture Award
2017 AIA Buffalo/WNY

American Architecture Award
The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design

Design Award of Honor
SARA National

Design Award of Merit
SARA New York Council

Architect Magazine
November 2017

Context & Drawings