Harlem School of the Arts Receives $9.5 Million for Renovations

Harlem School of the Arts Receives $9.5 Million for Renovations

The Harlem School of the Arts at the Herb Alpert Center has announced a $9.5 million renovation project to be funded by the Herb Alpert Foundation

The project will significantly transform the 37,000-square-foot facility in line with the organization's vision of becoming a premier cultural destination that engages the community, attracts diverse audiences, and nurtures the next generation of creative thinkers, innovative leaders, and artists. The renovations also will enable HSA to expand its arts education programming and optimize the space for a broader range of events. The building currently includes three dance studios, several music practice rooms, dedicated visual art studios, a media lab, and a black box theater. 

"The building should be seen as a space that invites people in," said HSA president Eric Pryor. "It has always been an oasis on the inside, but that has not generally been known. The community needs to see who we are and know that we are committed to providing cultural programming for everyone. " 

Among other things, the project will see the replacement of the building's Brutalist-style brick exterior, designed by German-born architect Ulrich Franzen in the 1970s, with a swath of clear glass, opening up a panoramic view of the facility's interior. In addition, the main public/gallery space will be retrofitted and transformed into a light-filled, state-of-the art performance room that incorporates both cutting-edge architectural and acoustical design. Construction is scheduled to begin in August and expected to last a year.

Celebrated musician and record industry executive Herb Alpert and his wife, vocalist and author Lani Hall Alpert, have supported the rebirth of the organization since 2010, when they, along with others, provided much-needed capital after financial struggles forced HSA to close. 

"As artists, we know how important it is for children to have opportunities that allow them to immerse themselves in music, art, dance, and theater," said Alpert. "Throughout the past eight years, Lani and I have stayed very involved, and with great pride watched HSA grow stronger, expand its programs, and once again become a pillar for art and culture within this growing population it serves."

(Image credit: Imrey Studio)