Brooklyn Academy of Music, Harvey Theatre Renovation

Known for its innovative programming, original shows, and enthralling performances, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) has been a mainstay of both global and local communities for more than 150 years. BAM decided to add cinema presentation during the quiet summer months in the 831-seat Harvey Theater; however, the venue designed for live music, drama and dance, required technical revisions to accommodate a high-quality cinema experience. Auerbach Pollock Friedlander worked with BAM and Mitchell | Giurgola Architects to realize this vision by providing audio-video and theatre consulting for digital cinema projection and also for new seating.

The cinema screen is rigged on a hanging truss that is flown with chain hoists. When not in use, it can quickly be struck and stored in the modular stage floor- this changeover taking just two hours. The location of the cinema screen downstage of the fire curtain allows rigging and production work in the flytower to be done without having to fully strike the screen.

To accommodate the projector, the firm designed a small projection room, finished to match the distressed look of the theatre, on the main floor.

A series of motorized adjustable acoustic banners, designed in conjunction with the project acoustician, allowed the overall reverberation time of the theatre to be reduced; which, in turn, increased intelligibility of the film’s dialog track. These banners can be controlled individually or in groups to adjust absorption as needed for each given presentation.

The firm’s other projects with BAM include several theatrical system upgrades to the Harvey Theater, the new Richard B. Fisher Building with two performance spaces, and technical upgrades to the Howard Gilman Opera House.

Client: Brooklyn Academy of Music
Architect: Mitchell | Giurgola
Acoustics: Akustiks
Cost: $5,000,000
Completion: 2012