In the company of giants: Maya Lin to design addition to Frank Gehry’s Fisher Center

Rendering of the new performing arts studio building for the Fisher Center at Bard College, designed by Maya Lin, in partnership with architects Bialosky and Partners and theater and acoustic consultants Charcoalblue. Photo courtesy Maya Lin Studio 2022

World-renowned architect and artist Maya Lin will design a new performing arts building for the Frank Gehry’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, in New York’s Annandale-on-Hudson hamlet in Duchess County.

Other partners in the project are architects Bialosky and Partners and theater and acoustic consultants Charcoalblue. Situated in the meadows to the west of the Fisher Center and overlooking woodlands and the Catskill mountains, the building will provide a home for Fisher Center LAB, the center’s acclaimed residency and commissioning program for professional artists. With a sloping grass-covered roof, the spiral-shaped building will appear to emerge from the meadow surrounding it, encircling a grassy courtyard for outdoor classes, gatherings, or performances.

The 2323-m2 (25,000-sf) building will contain five state-of-the-art studios for artist residencies, rehearsals, informal performances, and dance and theater classes, which will be connected by gathering hubs.

Maya Lin’s practice, encompassing art, architecture, and landscape, has made her one of the world’s most sought-after artists. Her recent commissions include the Neilson Library at Smith College, the Museum of Chinese in America in Manhattan, and the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. She was recently chosen to design a public art installation for the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.

“I have long admired the Fisher Center, and to be able to create a new building near it allows me to create a quiet and respectful dialogue with Frank Gehry’s magnificent work. Frank was my teacher at Yale, and it is particularly meaningful for me to design this new building in relation to his. I will set the studio building into the landscape, tucking it into a hillside so at first, only the green roof will be visible. Yet the sloping land will allow double-height studios to open fully to the meadow and woodlands, connecting artists, students, and faculty to the landscape while creating a unique and strong architectural presence,” says Maya Lin. “We are designing a high performance, energy efficient, low carbon building that will be sensitive to its site, reflecting my aesthetic and concern for the environment.”

Groundbreaking for the $42 million studio building will take place in 2023, during the celebration of the Fisher Center’s 20th anniversary. Once completed, the building will expand the Fisher Center’s identity beyond the walls of Gehry’s stunning landmark, to become a cultural campus comprising both the Gehry and Lin buildings.

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