GARNER is a non-profit center for visual and performing artists within the Garnerville Arts & Industrial Center, a 19th century textile mill 35 miles north of New York City. In August 2011, floodwaters from Hurricane Irene, powerfully channeled by the historic canal that bisects the complex, destroyed Building 21. The structure served as GARNER’s main gallery space and primary connection to the Dye Works Gallery for large-scale art shows and performances. In response, the Garnerville Arts & Industrial Center was named a “Seven to Save” historic site by the Preservation League of New York State, and with the added grant resources that comes with such designation, listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. A second grant funded a study, directed by BKSK, to examine the options for the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of Building 21 within an achievable framework in terms of construction costs, remediation, accessibility, and flexible programming.
In the study, BKSK proposes a balance of poetic design interventions with enhanced program flexibility and flood mitigation measures. The plan reframes Building 21 as a “front porch” for art, gatherings, performances, and private events, while improving circulation, accessibility, and back-of-house infrastructure. The signature design elements are two new bridges spanning the canal, one of which is wide enough to serve as a platform for functions and designed to allow for occasional flooding. Bracketed by the bridges and hugging the canal within the shell of Building 21 is a flexible performance/gallery space that is left partially exposed to the sky, preserving a newfound connection made by Irene. This engagement with the canal acknowledges the building’s intimate, if sometimes precarious, relationship with the waterway and opens a dialogue about the impact of climate change on our historic fabric.
This study was made possible by the Donald Stephen Gratz Preservation Services Fund of the Preservation League of New York State. We thank GARNER’s President, Robin Rosenberg, and Executive Director, James Tyler, for their valuable insight and collaboration.
View BKSK’s 2014 study (PDF)