Guild Hall today announced details of a facility-wide capital improvements project and campaign to reimagine its building at 158 Main Street for twenty-first-century audiences. A direct result of Guild Hall’s 2020–2025 strategic plan to strengthen its position as an artist-driven, interdisciplinary institution, these comprehensive enhancements will see the structural and technological upgrade of Guild Hall’s grounds and near-century-old building — encompassing its museum, theater, education center, and administrative offices. The East Hampton institution, home to its storied museum and performing arts space, will match the 1931 building’s physical and technological footprint to the caliber of today’s artistry. Improved flexibility and accessibility will meet the needs of Guild Hall’s diverse community of visual and performing artists, students, staff, and expanding seasonal and year-round community. Construction will begin in spring 2022, with completion and re-opening expected in late spring 2023.
Of Guild Hall’s capital enhancements project and campaign, Andrea Grover, Guild Hall Executive Director, said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to reimagine Guild Hall’s capabilities and offer artists, audiences, and the next generation the exceptional environment they deserve.”
Among the star design team engaged to realize the project in collaboration are Peter Pennoyer Architects (PPA), a leader in the renovation and preservation of historic buildings in the United States and globally, whose recent work includes the design of the clock of the new Moynihan Train Station in New York City. Planned architectural improvements will notably include the remodeling of Guild Hall’s museum, which presents exhibitions by cutting-edge contemporary artists from the region and beyond, with additional showcases of its permanent collection of nearly 2,400 artworks. The museum will, as a result of the plan, see gallery spaces with enhanced flexibility and flow, as well as increased wall space for the display of art and heightened entry clearances, to accommodate artists practicing across a range of disciplines, media, and scales, and their most ambitious works. Galleries will be equipped with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems — including LED lighting and the innovative repurposing of the building’s original framing to harness the effect and maximize control of natural light — all upgraded to ensure greater sustainability and versatility. The HVAC system will likewise be optimized to enhance control, airflow, and energy efficiency throughout the museum, theater, and operational spaces.
Also planned is the creation of Guild Hall’s first discrete art-handling facility to support installation, packing, and temporary storage of artworks, a recommended feature as a formally accredited member of the American Alliance of Museums. In addition, improvements will be made to staff offices to create a thriving, collaborative environment that is representative of new directions in professional work spaces.
Notably, Guild Hall will also undertake improvements to its Boots Lamb Education Center. The improved classroom will be outfitted with the latest technological tools to enhance education and training in twenty-first century creative skills for local youth. The space will be utilized for art workshops and drop-in classes for students of various ages and experience levels, as well as by Guild Hall’s Teen Arts Council — a paid, academic-year-long mentorship and apprenticeship program for teens to foster skills in the fields of contemporary art, nonprofit management, museum and theater practices, and community engagement.
PPA Principal Partner and fellow of the American Institute of Architects Peter Pennoyer said of the project: “Our approach is to restore traditional elements in a more contemporary way with the best technology available to us now — to bring Guild Hall into the future, while being respectful of its longstanding presence in East Hampton. We are excited to work closely with the rest of the design team to make Guild Hall a more welcoming and accessible place for visitors, staff, and artists.”
The plan further allows for the expansion of Guild Hall’s shared public spaces — creating organic zones for gathering, reflecting, and socializing — and a remodeled lobby and visitor arrival sequence, with priority given to improved accessibility, function, and aesthetic appeal.
Renowned New York-based Hollander Design | Landscape Architects will shepherd the landscape design, which will see Guild Hall’s grounds — including existing parking spaces — significantly enhanced for safety, efficiency, and sustainability. The plan will add to the existing tree canopy transition gardens, green spaces, native plants and grasses, and to upgrade stormwater drainage systems to substantially improve Guild Hall’s impact on the East Hampton environment. The addition of terraced seating in the Frieda and Roy Furman Sculpture Garden will also create opportunities for outdoor arts programming.
President Ed Hollander, who serves on the Dean’s Council and the Advisory Board of the Ian L. McHarg Center for Urbanism and Ecology at the University of Pennsylvania, said: “The planned enhancements will improve the ecological footprint of Guild Hall and create an aesthetically pleasing, functionally practical, and safer environment/grounds, allowing Guild Hall to stand as a good neighbor within the village and serve as a gateway to East Hampton.”
Guild Hall’s plan also calls for much-needed improvements to its theater, spearheaded by Bran Ferren, co-founder of leading technology and creative design firm Applied Minds, LLC, East Hampton native, and former Guild Hall Technical Director. The new design will optimize acoustics and lighting and outfit the theater with top-of-the-line automatic technology and external broadcast capabilities to meet the evolving needs of today’s performing artists, and bring Guild Hall’s ever-ambitious programming to broader audiences. From the guest perspective, the design will bring vastly improved sightlines, audio intelligibility, and seating comfort to provide an unparalleled theatrical environment for Guild Hall’s diverse community. A thrust stage and construction of a new wrapped balcony will likewise allow for greater intimacy of experience between audiences and performers. Directly addressing the needs of artists, audiences, and crew alike while preserving the fundamental footprint of the space, the design promises to bring Guild Hall’s theater fully into the twenty-first century.
Bran Ferren, formerly President of Research and Development at The Walt Disney Company and current East Hampton community member, said: “Guild Hall has played such a pivotal role in the artistic and cultural evolution of East Hampton and of America, and the John Drew Theater is foundational in this. It’s essential that Guild Hall’s technology keep pace with artmaking today to continue its vital legacy in serving the next generations of artists and audiences.”
Premier East End general contractor Ray Harden, co-owner of Ben Krupinski Builder, will lead project construction; and Sag Harbor’s Chris DiSunno of DiSunno Architecture will coordinate the theater improvements, with Jon Maass and Pamela Torres as owner’s representatives.
The design, construction, and advisory team also includes Conceptual Lighting, Arrowstreet, 2×4, Leonard Ackerman, and Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin & Quartararo LLP.
For over nine decades, Guild Hall has been the cultural heart of the East End. As an artist-driven best-in-class museum, performance space, and education center, Guild Hall hosts 60,000 visitors and presents more than 200 programs each year — from visual art exhibitions to plays, concerts, dance, screenings, simulcasts, and literary readings — with a focus on interdisciplinary programming that highlights issues of contemporary society and educational programs that spark dialogue and inspire thought leadership.
Launched with an early goal of $10 million on the occasion of Guild Hall’s 90th anniversary in 2021 and met with enthusiastic support, the now $25 million capital campaign includes dedicated capabilities for advancing the institution’s cutting-edge arts program and its vital reserve fund, to deepen and sustain Guild Hall’s excellence in interdisciplinary programming, thought leadership, education, and community engagement on the East End for current and future generations.
Guild Hall Board Chair Marty Cohen added: “Guild Hall is the cultural heart of our community. Our board and leadership are fully committed to these visionary improvements because we believe that the evolution of our capabilities is essential to Guild Hall’s continued vitality.”
While construction to its facility in East Hampton is underway, Guild Hall will present a robust schedule of not-to-be-missed off-site arts programming in collaboration with institutional partners, including Works & Process at the Guggenheim Museum, The Church, Plain Sight Project, Eastville Community Historical Society and Museum, Project Most, Ma’s House & BIPOC Art Studio, DIA Art Foundation, Hamptons Dance Project, and more. Learning and public engagement initiatives such as the Teen Arts Council and Artist-in-Residence program will expand and continue in 2022, most notably with the launch of the new Guild Hall William P. Rayner Artist-in-Residence.
For more info, visit www.GuildHall.org