For 16 years the All Stars Project produced its youth programs in high school gyms in New York City’s poverty-stricken neighborhoods. In 1997, All Stars with Balder Architecture began a building search and capital campaign to create a new headquarters in the heart of New York City’s theater district. The relocation was part of a plan to project, at a national level, its breakthrough performance-based learning model.
The challenge of the project was to maintain the integrity of a community-based program while at the same time becoming part of the New York City professional theater scene. The objective was to create a performing arts and educational center that would compete with those places that drew poor youth to Times Square – the game arcades, movie theaters and fast food restaurants – and that also would draw theater-goers and donors.
The space was envisioned to be a vibrant and inviting center where young people and adults from diverse backgrounds and experience could create something unique out of the mix. After the All Stars secured a premier space on West 42nd Street in 2002, Balder Architecture programmed, designed and managed the youth development center renovation and bringing its programs and community to the new site.
Balder Architecture conducted numerous meetings with the Board, stakeholders, and volunteers to address the impending shift in size and scale of the All Stars Project operation and the impact on the culture of the organization. Increases in the number of volunteers, events, and educational programs and the new signature location required that the organization grow rapidly and make changes in how it ran its programs and events.
The spatial requirements include three live theaters, rehearsal workshops, production facilities, a public gathering hall, and galleries, where internationally known performing artists collaborate with youth, donors meet staff and mentor young people, volunteers staff events and young people meet, organize events, rehearse and perform. Balder Architecture worked with All Stars to make this bold transformation. All Stars opened on 42nd Street in November 2003.
For the 2012 Ceramics of Italy Exhibition, we propose to celebrate the history of Italian tile making while providing ample space to display its members' top products.
In celebrating the history of Italian tile making, a dramatic set of hanging banners made of theatrical scrim will be suspended from the convention center's structure above. The scrims will be direct printed with images of tiles that document the history of Italian tile design. Convention center light fixtures light the scrims. Their position over the exhibition site creates an array of spaces for meetings, eating and casual conversations.
A series of table height counters are located beneath the scrims, providing places to sit, meet and eat. The counters are placeholders for members' tile product placement.
Visitors will get a close look at the signature tile collections provided by members. The floor, rendered in a varied dark grey, can be further developed to display floor tiles contributed by its members.
The lines of the counters and overhead theatrical scrims open the Ceramics of Italy exhibition to its neighbors, becoming a fluid hub, bridging the Italian tile community of exhibitors and providing important relationship building support between its members and their customers.
The design scheme is constructed of modular sections and can be reconfigured for different exhibition sites.
Current Science Gallery provides insight into health, science and technology - UNC research, UNC as a creator of knowledge, and exploration. In addition to media interactive tables and displays, artifacts from the collection and campus science laboratories tell stories of science of the edge.
The most active space at Morehead is Morehead Makers. A Beat Making Lab, Animation Lab and room to build, take apart and problem solve comprise an active space for forty-one young people and adults; it features overhead cable trays and grid for power and data connections, perimeter perforated metal screens for tool storage and a science mechanics lab environment for creating. Partition screens slide along the grid to make divisions within the space and easily moveable and accessible surfaces for tool storage. Tables separate or come together in different configurations allowing for different programming and sized groups. Storage - lockable cabinets on wheels that double as work surfaces - hold loose parts and materials. The workspace is usable by staff to test ides for learning. The space is equipped with white boards for sketching and projecting media.
The queue for eager visitors waiting for entry to the next planetarium show stretches to the left of the stair and ADA lift leading to the planetarium. Rotunda can always provide a secondary and larger queue space if desired. School groups also have the option of entering the Planetarium through the north entry.
Rotunda provides a low impact experience based on an orientation film (large format display) and key artifacts that tell the story of the early space program and Morehead's legacy, science at the University of North Carolina and fits seamlessly and architecturally in one of the most historic spaces on campus. Objects might include the Zeiss, telescopes, and viewfinders for training early astronauts.
The All Stars Project of New Jersey Scott Flamm Center for Afterschool Development opened in March 2013. It takes its inspiration from Newark’s rich history of transportation connecting the eastern seaboard to the south and Midwest.
A large, three-dimensional sign, “A New Play for Newark”, rendered in industrial vernacular, brands the waiting room.
As a “station for development”, young people and adults arrive at the center to create new performances together, grow, and develop, and then leave for new destinations such as Lincoln Center, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and the Newark Museum, where they continue their development journey; a center, designed with the elements of a transportation station (large clock, information booth, and ticket counters that are pressed into service) provides stages for new life performances.
One feature of the interior of the Newark center is that it as open and transparent as possible while providing for programmatic design needs. This is in great contrast to young people’s daily spatial experience in school, on the streets, and in their communities.
One design objective was to allow young people and adults to work together while simultaneously expressing a bigger, more expansive environment of possibility, gesturing to the broader world through its openness and open-ended spaces.
Views into the performance spaces follow the rising wall while built-in seating is provided across from the performance spaces for people to hang out in between activities. Hanging out, in between spaces and programmed activities, is where development occurs.
The in-between time is when there is a moment to reflect, tell a sibling what you did at All Stars, or meet someone new and create a conversation.
The work areas complete the station, where staff and volunteers provide support to the young people and adults, and which are configured in relation to the performance spaces.
The Flamm Center was awarded the silver medal for adaptive reuse (2013) at the 20th annual American Institute of Architects Newark and Suburban Design Awards.
Following the six-month planning process, conducted with the mediated learning staff of Liberty Science Center, we presented the concept design for the Center for Science Learning and Teaching (CSLT), a collaborative effort. As part of the master planning exercise on which Liberty Science Center embarked, the CSLT Concept Design became part of the design document that informed the renovation of Liberty Science Center scheduled from 2005 through 2006.
The Concept Design Phase was initiated when Balder Architecture was selected by Liberty Science Center after responding to the Request for Proposal for the Facilitation of a Design Collaborative Process and Development of a Conceptual Design for the new Center for Science Learning and Teaching.
• Establish the most unique destination in the informal education community for programs and experiences that advance the knowledge and understanding of mediated science learning and teaching
• Discover, investigate, enhance understanding, and stimulate creativity
• Emphasize ubiquitous computing, extended exploration of topics, design and construction as integral to learning, group cooperative learning
• Mediate and structure experiences where topics, themes, or disciplines are more deeply explored
• Create a learning environment that is an extension of and a partner to the classroom
During the Conceptual Design Phase the collaboration with Liberty Science Center explored new learning and teaching environments.
Conceived as a modest memorial to a man whose life focused on the poor, justice, and equality, Balder Architecture proposed an open amphitheater, a place to create a conversation while acknowledging the four other presidential memorials adjacent to the site (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt) by connecting all five memorials.
At the center of the memorial is a life-sized cast bronze figure of Martin Luther King, Jr. that visitors can approach. The King figure faces the Lincoln sculpture, expressing his relationship to the Lincoln legacy of continuing the dialogue for equality and fairness.
On axis and behind the King figure, across the Basin, is the Jefferson Memorial, the monument to the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. To the north, the memorial is on axis with the Washington Memorial and to the south, an accessible ramp slices through the amphitheater seats and steps, leading to the Roosevelt Memorial. These spatial relationships are intended to provoke a dialogue that recognizes the continuing conversation on race, freedom and equality, and Martin Luther as a bridge builder.
The Newark Visitors Center is conceived as a threshold, in the narrow, physical sense, mediating the transition between the Ironbound neighborhood and Joseph G. Minish Passaic River Waterfront Park and Historic Area and Passaic River, and in the broader programmatic sense, creating a bridge between communities by providing a public space for Newark residents and visitors to Newark to meet.
The center’s program- cafe, gift shop, gallery and exhibition spaces, and performance area - takes place on the center’s steps and ramping floor, transitional elements bridging the center’s south plaza at Raymond Boulevard down to Jersey Street at the park level.
The recycled steel bent structure mimics the bridge building and steel manufacturing buildings that populate Newark. The building features a green roof, integrated solar panels with roof, plaza green surfaces, and underground parking, setting the criteria for a sustainable architecture.
The multiple approaches to the center reach out in all directions, and its interior is a thoroughfare, an urban arcade. The center’s section, on the south side, provides a backdrop to the Ironbound area while opening up to the river on the north.
It is envisioned that the center will generate income from rentals and events, where after-school programming thrives, where the youth of Newark host guests. Moreover, artists, musicians, performers in-residence and special guests will inhabit the center and interact with residents and visitors. The center is part gallery, performance space, pavilion, after-school and cultural center. The center is a showcase of Newark’s human resources – its citizens.
Study for the expansion of the existing planetarium and addition of the science center.
The science laboratories were conceived to provide space for science experiments and inspire school age children to explore their future in science.
Balder Architecture worked with Morehead Planetarium and Science Center (MPSC) at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, to create an interactive exhibit of science currently in progress at the University. Entitled Zoom In: Science at the Extremes, we created a two-part exhibit highlighting the big and small of our everyday world through two stories, how UNC scientists discovered the most distant star explosion ever recorded in the universe and the work of UNC’s Virtual Lung Project on the inner workings of the lungs of people with Cystic Fibrosis.
At the large scale, visitors can manipulate remote telescopes in Chile and snap pictures of distant stars, and at the small scale, experiment with cilia and mucus properties while meeting a person with cystic fibrosis. We developed a narrative to convey a complex topic to a young audience in a way that would be easy to grasp and connect visitors on a personal level to the science and scientists.
Before the development of the exhibition began, we trained the staff in content and exhibition development. We then launched a 40-week work plan, rather than the typical two-three year’s schedule, from concept to opening, that included astronomy, physics, and chemistry professors’ participation in content development sessions as advisors and content providers, and a 2,100 sq. ft. space was vacated for the new exhibition. MPSC introduced potential donors to the exhibit who made gifts. MPSC’s educators participated in the design of the exhibit environment and created new educational programming that is being tested in advance of the future expansion .