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The Dance Building Renovation/Waterproofing project revived a building originally designed by Gunnar Birkerts in 1968. Robert Siegel Architects replaced the skylight and curtain wall systems around the entire exterior of the building. Before the renovation, the building was water-penetrable and had suffered damage at critical points around the exterior due to water leakage. The renovation resolved the water leakage and damage problems restoring the exterior functionally to prevent future ruin.


Also included in the scope are structural upgrades to repair movement of the existing exterior masonry wall away from the building structure and to upgrade the structure to comply with current lateral load requirements. We achieved this by designing the new sloped skylight system as tension rods, tied in the masonry exterior wall. 


The new glazing and skylight structure improves insulation, increases the amount of daylight, and reduces the U.V. energy entering into the building. The extruded aluminum skylight sticks are all custom fabricated to have maximum wall thickness and this minimal increase to the outside face dimensions. As a result, the new skylight structure is much stiffer and is only 2 inches deeper and 1 inch wider than the original system. 


The original glazing units were monolithic slabs of heat strengthened glass with a tint, similar to that used in other Mid-Century modern buildings. The new glass units are insulated and laminated with a special U.V. resistant coating. The new gutter design abandons the leaking internal leaders and provides new exterior downspouts with one side open in order to resist accumulation of ice and snow and to create a musical sound of the water falling onto river stones.


The new skylight and curtain wall systems drastically change the experience of the interior space. Along the east and west sides of the space, long corridors are brightly illuminated with natural light; casting substantial amounts of light into the dance studios on the interior floor plate.


The interior floor finishes, upholstery and paint colors are modified from the original design to reflect an architecture of our time rather than that of the 1970s. The original VCT floor has been replaced with Plynyl to improve sound absorption, eliminate the need for waxing, and provide a gently cushioned surface that is a welcome relief to dancers’ feet.

For more information, see the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music website.

Project Type


Building Area

Services Provided

24,250 ft

2,250 m  floor area

13,320 ft

1,240 m  roof area

Architectural Design

Historic Preservation










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