Mathew Suen

Dumbo Theatre Project

The site given for a theatre in the Dumbo District for Brooklyn was an old pre-Civil War era warehouse. Once standing five storeys tall with a rectangular plan, it now remains as an empty shell—five double-height walls framing the sky. Somehow, the warehouse no longer can serve as a building, but is still very much so architectural. The challenge of the Dumbo Theatre Project was to re-inject it with a new program: two theatres (one 400-seat indoor and a 200-seat outdoor performance area) a gift/bookstore, a cafe, and a small informal gallery space. The formal germ of the project was to reference the roof-less frame of the warehouse, with the framed areas acting as program and the intersections of frames acting as circulation. The original column grid which was traced from the location of the beam-ties still left on the facade is resurrected to act as a landscape device both to draw the attention of people from the street to the south, and to act as a memetic device of the historic aspect of the warehouse.