Rockwell Place in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, will be livened with the sound of blaring drums, the sight of spirited dancers, and the steady, stirring energy of artists and audiences Oct. 5 as the BRIC Arts | Media House takes its very first breath.
BRIC House, for short, is the latest project of BRIC, the nonprofit organization responsible for many media and arts programs, including Celebrate Brooklyn! at the Prospect Park Bandshell. The organization has expanded its 19,000-square-foot facility at the historic Strand Theatre to a 40,000-square-foot space.
BRIC President Leslie G. Schultz said that the organization wanted to upgrade its facilities so that the platform it was providing artists would be state of the art and do justice to their work.
Schultz said that there is a lack of resources to showcase Brooklyn artists, but the new property will change that.
“With BRIC House, we have the opportunity,” she said. The construction began in 2011, and opening up the old façade would prove to be the biggest obstacle. “It was this very foreboding structure, all bricked up.”
“It’s sort of like a careful surgery,” said Thomas Leeser, the German-born principal architect on the project, who also designed Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. Despite a budget of $35 million, Leeser said that funds were tight for a project of this magnitude.
“Particularly for the exterior, we had to invent something, make it sort of iconic without breaking the bank,” he said.
Schultz explained that the city, a partner in the project, wanted to open the space up to the street. Passers-by on Fulton Street will be able to see directly into the 3,000-square-foot gallery, the public access television studio, and the new café from Hungry Ghost. UrbanGlass, a nonprofit that promotes the use of glass as an artistic medium, also located in the building, will have a storefront as well.
Cybele Maylone, the executive director of UrbanGlass, said that the two organizations have a similar mission of “artistic exploration and experimentation and fostering a dialogue with the public.”
The new building, white, modern, crisp, and clean, will help both organizations achieve that, she said.
BRIC House features a performance space that can fit up to 400 people standing, an artist studio with a 75-person capacity, and a space BRIC has named “the Stoop,” which will feature weekly film screenings, conversations with artists, and other programs. A complete list of programs can be found on BRIC’s website.
The opening of BRIC House will begin Oct. 3 and continue through Oct. 5, when the block party will take over Rockwell Place between DeKalb Avenue and Fulton Street from 2 to 10 p.m.
Schultz is eager about opening the new BRIC House in Brooklyn, a place she referred to as a “magnet for so many people in the creative field.” Though it’s inside, BRIC House is intended to be a “town square,” where everyone is welcome to be surrounded by art and artists without having to buy a ticket.
“This is where it’s all happening. People call it ‘the new Manhattan,’ ” said Leeser, “and it’s a very exciting place.”