PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — On a gray, rainy early-fall afternoon, Brown University’s new Lindemann Performing Arts Center was brimming with warmth, cheer, joy and excitement.
Leaders from the University and its Facilities Management and Brown Arts Institute teams hosted a Saturday, Sept. 23, celebration to honor the thousands of professionals who dedicated their time and talents at points over the last five years to the planning, design and construction of state-of-the-art performing arts center. Their work — which involved contributions from nearly 2,300 people in total — has enabled the University realize its long-held vision to establish a major hub for boundary-pushing performance and arts scholarship.
To pay tribute, Brown welcomed building designers, engineers, project managers and construction laborers and their spouses, partners and families, along with key project partners, including the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council, Building Futures and Shawmut Design and Construction, for a celebratory afternoon on College Hill. A crowd upwards of 300 convened in the performing arts center to connect with peers, enjoy music and food, and tour the 101,000-square-foot venue.
Guests explored the Nelson Atwater Lobby and its “Infinite Composition” LED light sculpture, the center’s highly configurable main performance hall, and other spaces, including the Movement Lab and the William Riley Hall. In the building’s Performance Lab, kids and families cozied up in oversized bean bag chairs to enjoy a screening of the Pixar movie “Inside Out” while others played ring toss, Connect Four or colored custom Bruno-themed coloring sheets.
Most were excited to walk the building and marvel at the one-of-kind facility, knowing firsthand what it took to build the radically flexible space.
Cash Pina, a union ironworker from East Providence, R.I., was happy to welcome his girlfriend, Kendra Nunes, to show her the building’s steel staircases and handrails, among other hardware he fabricated and installed. Pina was also one of 95 union ironworkers who helped to erect the building’s structural framework. After working on the Brown construction site for 18 months, the celebration at the Lindemann, he said, made him feel valued.
“Some of us on the Brown job sometimes joked about when we might get our tickets in the mail for a performance or exhibit,” Pina said. “To actually have a celebration just for us, that’s a lot better — that’s special.”
Building the Lindemann
The Lindemann’s unique design, led by acclaimed architecture firm REX, features state-of-the-art technical, acoustical and spatial capabilities. Its main performance hall can transform into any of five vastly different stage and audience configurations — ranging from a 530-seat symphony orchestra hall, to a 275-seat proscenium theater, to an immersive surround-sound cube for experimental media performance.
Bringing the technically complex venue to life required collaboration between teams of project leaders, skilled craft workers and expert consultants. Rhode Island’s construction workforce, however, contributed the lion’s share of the crew members. Approximately 1,100 union construction workers across 18 local trades — including equipment operators, concrete and steel layers, roofers, drywallers, painters, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, theatrical equipment and lighting installers, and landscapers — contributed to the multi-year construction project, totaling nearly 475,000 hours of union labor.