Renovation and Improvement Plans
We are excited to announce the upcoming launch of a renovation project tied to our mission of access to the arts for all. Construction, led by Li/Saltzman Architects, will result in key upgrades to the center’s architecture that will support our values of inclusivity, transparency, and accessibility.
Abrons Arts Center is widely regarded as a case study for the role that architecture can play in facilitating access to the arts for a diverse community. Originally built as the Arts for Living Center–an extension to Henry Street Settlement’s historic Neighborhood Playhouse–the center was designed in 1975 by architect Lo-Yi Chan of the firm Prentice & Chan, Ohlhausen. In collaboration with an intergenerational cohort of local residents, the firm developed a design for a new kind of urban arts center for the 20th century, one that would serve a wide array of needs and interests of local and visiting communities.
“Abrons Arts Center and Henry Street Settlement are excited to build on the dynamic architecture of the center to further increase access to our services for the community,” says Ali Rosa-Salas, vice president of visual and performing arts at Henry Street Settlement. “This is an opportunity to have our values be borne out by our physical space.”
“We are making Abrons Arts Center, which is a significant cultural resource in our city, more sustainable, accessible, and adaptable for its 21st century life,” says Judith Saltzman, founding principal of Li/Saltzman Architects.
This renovation project is made possible with transformative capital support from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, whose $2 million gift to Henry Street Settlement will help resource the construction. In acknowledgement of their support, the renovated Amphitheater will be named the Miriam and Harold Steinberg Plaza.
“We are grateful that the Steinbergs have positioned Henry Street Settlement to deepen our service to the Lower East Side through arts and culture,” says David Garza, president & CEO of Henry Street Settlement. “With their investment, we will be able to build upon the important legacy of the Arts Center and develop new models for creative expression, place making, and community belonging.”
- A redesign of the Abrons Arts Center entrance to include a LULA (limited use/limited application elevator) so that everyone can enter and access the center from a common entry point
- Two new ADA-compliant restrooms in the building’s main lobby
- The construction of a ramp in the Upper Gallery to make the space accessible to all artists and audiences
- An expansion of the Main Gallery, increasing the space to host community events and visual art
- Construction of a new vestibule for the Experimental Theater that separates the sound and light of the Main Gallery and the theater.
What will construction mean for Abrons’ operations?
While construction is underway, Abrons Arts Center will continue its performances, classes, and other programs in collaboration with Henry Street Settlement and other community partners.
As construction progresses, we will continue to communicate with you any further changes or information that may help you navigate our building. We are appreciative of your support and extension of grace as we welcome this next phase of Abrons Arts Center’s history.
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When will construction begin?
Construction will break ground on Monday, December 18, 2023.
When will construction end?
Construction is slated to conclude in June 2024. The ending date is subject to change.
What areas of the Abrons Arts Center will the construction impact?
The construction will impact and restrict access to the Abrons Arts Center in 2 phases:
- Phase 1: December 2023–March 2024
Main Entrance, Lobby, Culpeper Gallery, and Upper Gallery
- Phase 2: March–June 2024
Amphitheater, Main Gallery and Experimental Theater
How should I expect the construction to impact my day to day interactions with Abrons Arts Center?
The Abrons Arts Center main entrance will be relocated and several restrooms will be out of order while construction is taking place. Wayfinding signage will be posted to support your navigation of our facilities.
Where is the Abrons Arts Center entrance?
To enter the Arts Center, please walk up the Amphitheater steps and enter the building through the glass doors marked "Main Entrance".
Where is the accessible entrance to Abrons Arts Center?
The Arts Center’s temporary accessible entrance is through our garden gate on Willet Street. Please ring the doorbell at the gate for entry.
Questions? Email Gerry Rincon, Director of Venue Operations and Rentals at [email protected]
Transformative capital support for the re-envisioning of the Miriam and Harold Steinberg Plaza comes from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. Additional support is provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Office of the Manhattan Borough President, Solon E. Summerfield Foundation, Inc., and the generosity of Henry Street’s Board of Directors.