Institution Building: Abrons Arts Center 1975 – 2017

In 1975 the Abrons Arts for Living Center opened as a part of the Henry Street Settlement. Designed by Lo-Yi Chan of the architectural firm Prentice & Chan, Ohlhausen, the building continues, to this day, to house the HSS’s various arts programs, and its iconic amphitheater courtyard serves as a public space.  A contextual building of Modernist ambition referred to as an “urban triumph” by architectural critic Ada Louise Huxtable, the Abrons Arts Center, will undergo a significant renovation by Ennead Architects beginning in 2017.  On August 10, architects Lo-Yi Chan, and Timothy Hartung of Ennead Architects will join Alan Ruiz (Abrons Artist-in-Residence) for a conversation surrounding the building’s original and new design on the eve of its renovation. Through a dialogue about the history and future of the building, this conversation will consider the many ways in which a renovation signals a change — not only aesthetic, but political.

Architect and campus planner, Lo-Yi Chan has completed a wide range of projects known for their careful balance of social responsibility and aesthetic excellence. Born in Canton, China in 1932, Chan grew up in Honolulu and Hanover, N.H. where he graduated from Dartmouth in 1954. Following a Master of Architecture from Harvard, two years in the US Army, and a one year round-the-world Appleton Traveling Fellowship, Chan apprenticed with I. M. Pei in New York City. In 1965, Chan launched his own firm and over three decades his practice, Prentice & Chan, Ohlhausen, became well known for its projects for educational, cultural and social institutions. Chief among these are the Abrons Center for the Arts at the Henry Street Settlement, the Sackler Museum in Peking University, Sever Hall Restoration at Harvard, the Connecticut Hospice, the RooseveltIsland Tramway and the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth. The firms’ work has been widely published in the U.S. and abroad and is included in all major surveys of work in New York City. Winner of many awards, Chan’s firm was singled out as the outstanding firm in 1994 in New York City. His work has been exhibited by The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, Columbia University, the National Academy, and the Boston Architectural Center. Chan also taught master classes in architectural design at Cornell, Columbia, Harvard and MIT, and has lectured widely. In 1996, Chan withdrew from architecture to focus exclusively on campus planning. He has served as the Campus Master Planner for Dartmouth, Colgate, Connecticut College, Phillips Andover, Lawrenceville, Blair Academy and Berkshire School, among others. Chan has served on numerous boards including New York City’s Art Commission, the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Colby-Sawyer College, Berkshire School, Berkshire Choral International, the Community Service Society, the Henry Street Settlement, the Lingnan Foundation, and the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, among others.

Chan lives in New York City with his wife Millie.  Their grown children live in Massachusetts and Maryland.

A Founding Partner and Management Partner at Ennead Architects, Timothy Hartung has led the management efforts for many of the firm’s award-winning projects. He has extensive experience with complex cultural and educational projects and is recognized for his expertise in the formal and technical challenges of theaters and performing arts centers. A selection of his projects include: Abrons Art Center at Henry Street Settlement, Carnegie Hall, Stanford University Bing Concert Hall, Vassar College Integrated Science Center, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, The Anderson Collection at Stanford University, The Holland Performing Arts Center, The Mercersburg Academy Burgin Center for the Arts, Seamen’s Church Institute, Peter Norton Symphony Space, and Jazz at Lincoln Center Frederick P. Rose Hall, among others. Mr. Hartung graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Architecture. The University recognized him in 2004 with the Department of Architecture Alumni Achievement Award. He is also the recipient of the 2013 USITT Distinguished Achievement Award. He is active in the United States Institute of Theatre Technology and is a former Director-at-Large and Architecture Commissioner of the organization. Mr. Hartung is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. 

Alan Ruiz is a visual artist whose work explores the way space is produced as both material and ideology. His architectural interventions have been shown in exhibitions at the Queens Museum, The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, Wave Hill, and the Bronx Museum of the Arts.  Ruiz has contributed writing to Archinect, TDR, BOMB Magazine, InVisible Culture, and Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory. He has presented work at the Storefront for Art & Architecture, MoMA PS1, and PSi Hamburg.  Ruiz received an MFA from Yale University and was a 2015 – 2016 fellow in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. He is a current artist-in-residence at Abrons Arts Center.