Maya Lin to Design New Performing Arts Studio for Bard College

The stainless steel-clad Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College has a new neighbor.

As announced by Bard earlier this week and subsequently reported by The New York Times, Maya Lin was selected to design a dedicated performing arts studio for the Fisher Center, located on the private liberal arts school’s bucolic campus overlooking the Hudson River in the hamlet of Annadale-on-Hudson, New York. Work on the $42 million facility is slated to begin next year at a specific time tied to the 20th anniversary of the opening of Gehry’s Fisher Center, a technically complex $62 million three-year project that will now stands as a must-see landmark on the Bard campus. The 110,000 square foot Fisher Center is home to two large theaters – a 900-seat concert hall and a more intimate 200-seat performance hall – as well as rehearsal spaces and support facilities.

The Lin-designed studio building, a 25,000-square-foot facility described by Bard in a press announcement as a “performing arts laboratory,” is expected to include five state-of-the-art studios connected by a series of informal social spaces and “ will extend Fisher Center’s identity beyond the walls of the magnificent Gehry monument, to become a cultural campus comprising both the Gehry and Lin buildings.” The new building will take the form of a spiral structure topped by a green roof emerging from a verdant meadow near the Fisher Center. According to the school, the sloped building’s multitasking studios will surround a grassy courtyard that will be used for small outdoor performances, outdoor classes and social gatherings.

(Maya Lin Studio with Bialosky New York/Courtesy Maya Lin Studio © 2022)

“Gehry’s building has two magnificent theatres, but our ambitious program has expanded beyond the current facility, and we urgently need more space for rehearsals, smaller-scale performances and the teaching,” said Fisher Center Board Chair Jeanne Donovan Fisher. “Maya Lin’s beautiful design will position the Fisher Center to enter its third decade as one of the nation’s most vital and forward-thinking arts centers.”

Multidisciplinary design firm Bialosky + Partners Architects and theater and acoustics consultants Charcoalblue are partnering with Lin and his eponymous New York-based art and architecture studio.

Lin said in a statement shared by Bard:

“I am delighted to have been selected to design the Bard Performing Arts Studio building. I have long admired the Fisher Center, and being able to create a new building near it allows me to create a calm and respectful dialogue with Frank Gehry’s magnificent work. Frank was my professor at Yale, and it’s especially meaningful to me to design this new building in relation to his. I’ll place the studio building in the landscape, sinking it into a hill so that only its green roof is visible at first. Yet the sloping terrain will allow the double-height studios to open fully to the prairie and woods, connecting artists, students, and faculty to the landscape while creating a unique and strong architectural presence. We design a high-performance building, energy-efficient, low-carbon, sensitive to its site, reflecting my aesthetics and my concern for the environment.

illustration of a conical circular building
(Maya Lin Studio with Bialosky New York/Courtesy Maya Lin Studio © 2022)

Other ongoing projects spearheaded by Lin, an Ohio-born designer known for her memorials and large-scale environmental artworks, include the new home of the Museum of Chinese in America in Manhattan and a piece of sculptural water for the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago. In 2016, Lin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by the former POTUS alongside his former Yale professor, Gehry.

“It’s fitting that Maya Lin, herself an outstanding artist, is developing this home for artists,” added Gideon Lester, Artistic Director of the Fisher Center. “Intimately in touch with its natural environment, both grounded and soaring, its building will unfold from the prairie like an opening between earth and air, to create a welcoming and inspiring laboratory for artists, students, professors and the public. .”