Posted on Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Completed Renovations Enhance the Pratt Manhattan Campus as a Hub for Creativity on 14th Street

Renovations to the Pratt Institute Manhattan campus which began in fall 2019 are now complete, supporting students across disciplines with enhanced spaces for teaching and learning and a more open presence on 14th Street. From a roomier lobby to the reimagined Pratt Manhattan Gallery, each element is aimed at better engaging Pratt students in conversations and interdisciplinary collaboration as well as welcoming the public to the historic Renaissance Revival-style building. The renovations were completed in consultation with Kliment Halsband Architects (KHA), Severud Associates, Thomas Polise Consulting Engineer, Dot Dash, Design 2147, and Jaffe Holden.


Exterior of Pratt Manhattan campus as renovations near completion (photo by Anthony Cocciolo)

Renovations to the Pratt Institute Manhattan campus which began in fall 2019 are now complete, supporting students across disciplines with enhanced spaces for teaching and learning and a more open presence on 14th Street. From a roomier lobby to the reimagined Pratt Manhattan Gallery, each element is aimed at better engaging Pratt students in conversations and interdisciplinary collaboration as well as welcoming the public to the historic Renaissance Revival-style building. The renovations were completed in consultation with Kliment Halsband Architects (KHA), Severud Associates, Thomas Polise Consulting Engineer, Dot Dash, Design 2147, and Jaffe Holden.

“As an institution grounded in building excellent environments and strengthening our constituent neighborhoods, we are delighted to present the transformed Pratt Manhattan campus,” said Pratt Institute President Frances Bronet. “It is an inspiring home for students, faculty, and staff, with redesigned spaces that will energize creative collaboration and exploration. The building’s new street-level gallery, with its transparent façade, opens up possibilities for ongoing and reciprocal interchange and activity. This evolution enhances our deliberate engagement with New York City’s Chelsea art scene and accelerating technology infrastructure.”

The New York-based KHA, which worked with Pratt on the renovations, was co-founded by Frances Halsband, FAIA, who was the Pratt School of Architecture’s first woman dean from 1991 to 1994. “Our principal design goal was to establish the landmarked building as an important civic, cultural, and academic presence for Pratt in the neighborhood,” Halsband said.

The exterior has new banner stanchions that announce Pratt’s identity and a steel and glass façade now offers a window into the Pratt Manhattan Gallery, which was formerly on the second floor. Now located on the ground floor, its expanded space—increased from the previous 2,300 square feet to 3,000 square feet—features a curved accent wall visible from the sidewalk so passersby can see student work as well as rotating exhibitions. Along with flexible lighting and a system of partitions to accommodate a wide range of installations, this openness promotes visibility for the gallery so someone walking by could see what’s happening at Pratt. 

“We can invite visitors or entice them to be interested in our shows with graphics and video and so forth,” said Director of Exhibitions Nick Battis in a video on the renovations presented at the 2020 Open House New York. “Having this space visible to the street makes it a lot easier to get the public in there. We think of the space as a laboratory for creative inquiry.” 

The gallery can be accessed from the new lobby which will be named the Hiroko Nakamoto Pratt Manhattan Lobby, thanks to the recent generous support of the project by Hiroko Nakamoto, Interior Design ’55. Upon entering, visitors will immediately see a playful bench spelling out “PRATT” offering a new common space for students to meet. Other details include attention to materials intended to evoke Pratt’s maker spirit, such as the metalwork on the entrance desk which contrasts with the wood floor of the nearby gallery. 

Improved circulation throughout the building was a focus. Previously, visitors to the gallery went through the same security as students to get to the second floor. Now they can access the gallery from an entrance that is separate from the turnstiles leading up to the classrooms. Meanwhile the renovations to the hallways that upgrade lighting and increase their flexible space take into consideration that they could be gallery walls, collaborative studios, and venues of critique and discussion. Breakout areas added around the building further foster community and interaction.

The renovations were an opportunity for additional spaces for classes, lectures, events, and other school-wide activities to support students in programs including the School of Information, Arts and Cultural Management, Associate Degree Programs, Construction Management, Design Management, and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. With the gallery moved to the first floor, its former location on the second floor has been transformed into an acoustically-designed lecture hall that can double as a board room and multipurpose space. There is a new second-floor lounge, a self-service cafe, and two new medium-sized classrooms. Other additions strengthen resources for specific programs at Pratt Manhattan, like a sound design room with a soundproof recording booth and a green screen space, a gaming design lab, and a perfumery.

These renovations reinforce Pratt’s place as a center for creative inquiry on a bustling Manhattan corridor. With a tech hub planned for Union Square, a new busway, and a major proposal to expand public space, it is an especially exciting time for Pratt to be on 14th Street and contribute to the vibrancy of its neighborhood.