Union Arts Center

Sparkill, NY | The Union Arts Center is a welcoming venue for cultural exchange and creative expression. Through adaptive reuse of a dilapidated firehouse, a multi-use performance and fine arts center and event space was created to serve the local and regional communities. Allen Ross was chosen to be the architect through a competition of multiple architects’ design concepts. The final scheme developed through an in-depth examination of the program’s goals, costs, and context.

The design focuses on creating two large public spaces, one at each floor, and connects with the immediate neighborhood via an open front façade. The restrained detailing includes historic references that fit in with downtown Sparkill. Two large overhead doors allow the first floor to open across its entire street front, and monumental windows at the second floor signal the larger loft space within. At events, people freely flow onto the sidewalk and passersby are drawn in. A new wider and more direct staircase improves circulation between the first and second floors, and between the street and the second floor. Accessibility was improved.

The interior finishes were typically demolished to the framing, with some significant existing elements, such as the stamped metal ceiling and exposed steel columns, preserved. These elements reference the building’s history, enriching the narrative. The exterior surfaces were entirely replaced. Energy efficiency was improved with insulation, air sealing, and new windows, doors and HVAC systems. Locations and sizes of the windows and doors were changed, and additions made, to give the spaces hierarchy and to improve natural lighting and ventilation. Support spaces and a commercial kitchen were renovated.

With Caitlin Burck (Piermont Design Group) and Simon Basner (Executive Director, UAC)