2017 AIA Awards - Architecture

Firm: Marvel Architects

Owner: St. Ann’s Warehouse

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Beneath Brooklyn Bridge, this 700-seat theater has transformed the remains of a late-1800s tobacco warehouse into a thriving public/private amenity that anchors an evolving New York neighborhood and park.

The site, Fulton Ferry Landing, is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been a New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation property for nearly 40 years. Originally a five-story building when constructed in 1868, it was altered to make way for New Dock Street; in the 1940s, three stories were removed to avoid adding required fire protection. Left alone to deteriorate, the roof and wood framing were removed in 2000, and the warehouse existed as an open structure until ground was broken on this project.

In its new life, St. Ann’s Warehouse is a flexible state-of-the-art performance space that pays tribute to both the original warehouse and the DUMBO church building in which the arts organization was founded. To maintain the patina of the structure, the existing masonry was selectively preserved. To accommodate the needs of a performance venue, which required an additional 7.5 feet of space above the existing walls, a glass brick clerestory caps the structure, providing the needed space and permitting natural light.

Outside, a triangular garden designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh and enclosed by original masonry walls provides access to the lobby and gathering space before and after performances.

Hurricane Sandy flooded the project with three feet of water during the design phase, prompting new strategies in resilient design. The plans were reconfigured, and now double doors can be opened to allow floodwater to run through the space and exit on the other side. Water-resistant materials such as concrete and steel are used extensively, and plywood interiors can be replaced quickly and cheaply.

A welcome addition to New York’s rich cultural legacy, this project proves that innovative reuse strategies can turn an aged but historic space into a modern and efficient destination.

Additional information

Construction: Yorke Construction

Custom Light Fixtures: David Weeks Studio

Engineer – MEP: Buro Happold

Engineer – Structural: Silman

Exterior Lighting: Domingo Gonzales Associates

Landscape Architect: MVVA Michael Van Valkenburgh and Assoc.

Owners Representative: DBI

Signage: Tom Fruin and Flyleaf Creative

Theatre Consultant: CharcoalBlue


Mark Reddington, FAIA (Chair), LMN Architects, Seattle

Gregory P. Baker, AIA, HNTB Architecture, Los Angeles

David Cordaro, AIAS Representative, Urbandale, Iowa

Leslie K. Elkins, FAIA, Leslie K. Elkins Architect, Houston

Timothy J. Johnson, AIA, NBBJ, New York

William Q. Sabatini, FAIA, Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Adrian D. Smith, FAIA, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, Chicago

Beatrice Spolidoro, Assoc. AIA, Rothschild Doyno Collaborative, Pittsburgh

Marilyn Terranova, PhD, Interim Superintendent, Pocantico Hills CSD; Sleepy Hollow, New York

Image credits

St.AnnsWarehouse 01

David Sundberg/ESTO


David Sundberg/ESTO


David Sundberg/ESTO

St(68).AnnsWarehouse(68) 04

David Sundberg/ESTO


David Sundberg/ESTO