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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
221,000 sq. ft.
Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners
Supply Chain Management
Virtual Design & Construction
The Experimental Media Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) was a multifaceted project that included box-in-box construction for a 400-seat performance theatre, two adaptive environment studios, an audio and video production suite, artists-in-residence studios, campus radio station and a dance studio. The building brings together four main venues as well as many smaller studios and lab spaces under one roof. Each can be used independently and simultaneously, allowing the school to present events, host student gatherings, and dedicate space to research and residencies at the same time. The building includes many firsts and exceptional attributes in the fields of acoustics, structural integrity, theatrical presentation, and digital media. The building embodies a number of design and construction innovations as well. An extraordinary baseline of quiet has been achieved through acoustic separation, literally a space between the walls and floors of each venue, to prevent conduction of noisy vibrations. To further cushion vibrations, parts of the building sit on springs embedded in the foundation. The entire structure is secured by 215 cable anchors that reach deep into the hillside's bedrock, making it one of the most seismically secure buildings in the region.