Brooklyn-based Performing Arts Center Wins Multiple Design Awards

Brooklyn-based Performing Arts Center Wins Multiple Design Awards, hopes to inspire inner-city youth
Photo credit: Amy Barkow
Brooklyn, United States

Located in Brooklyn, this Oprah sponsored arts centre, was built for the local community in an effort to inspire inner-city youth. Designed by Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture (JPDA) the new Dwana Smallwood Performing Arts Center (DSPAC) in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood received significant support from Oprah Winfrey. The philanthropic gesture then allowed dancer Dwana Smallwood to realize her vision of giving back to the community she grew up in.


From the press release, “The project has garnered top interior design honors from AIA New York as well as the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s Building Brooklyn Award for outstanding contribution to Brooklyn’s streetscape and economy.

Located in a former industrial building, JPDA developed a series of dramatic architectural interventions that transform the exterior and create bright, airy and playful dance studios, offices, a library, and dressing rooms for the bustling families that arrive each day.

Formerly Principal Dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dwana Smallwood later served as Director at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa. After deciding to return to her home neighborhood to teach dance, the project benefited from Oprah’s direct support to spur the growth of the organization in developing a school and resource center for the community.


“My intention was to use my professional dancing experiences to come back to where I grew up and not only teach dance, but the confidence, love, creativity, and self-esteem that comes with learning dance,” recounts Dwana. DSPAC combines flexible dance studios, performance spaces and administrative functions and serves as a significant cultural resource for the community.

The organization aims to use the arts, primarily dance, as a means to empower youth within New York’s inner city communities. They endeavor to mold elite dancers and artists who will be able to develop, grow and compete on the world’s stage. Early in the design process JPDA developed a series of figure studies using photography and dance notation to inspire a direct abstraction of movement and the flow of architectural space.


The entrance is announced by a suspended canopy, via glass doors flanked by 3-d sculpted concrete panels and a marquee that establish the abstract vocabulary of undulating energy and movement. Cast ripple and spiral panels hint at the energy and dynamic spirit of the public programs.


The stairwell and second floor reception are clad in dimensional CNC-milled lacquered panels that conceal storage, signage and lighting. The circular ripple motif carries through to a colorful and warm library that provides comfortable seating and a social gathering space.
The area creates an oasis of calm for reading and stretching, as well as social space for connecting with friends and neighbors.

Open, bright studios with sprung floors and glowing skylights are the focus for dancers. The two studios are flexibly divided and can open up to one large dance stage with blackout curtains at performance time.

The center is a springboard for creating community identity and encouraging creative activity within an underserved population.”
check out this and more of JPDA’s works here

File under: Institutional Architecture, Culture, Health + Wellness, Institutional Interior Design, Lifestyle, Office

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