Pratt Main Building

Brooklyn, NY
Pratt Institute

Valentine’s Day 2013, a fast-moving fire and the efforts to contain it destroyed a large portion of Main Building, Pratt Institute’s oldest structure. The disaster dislodged students, faculty, and administration alike. Helpern Architects had done major work to bolster Main’s historic facade in 2006; looking for speedy answers as well as pertinent experience, Pratt asked us to provide an existing conditions survey and feasibility report, and then to lead the reconstruction effort.

Fifteen months later, the six-story, bearing-wall structure was back in use in its fine Romanesque Revival form. We replaced the building’s historic wood windows and exterior masonry, stone, and terracotta walls. On the inside, it was more a gut renovation to return the building as closely as possible to its pre-fire appearance, but we also took the moment to upgrade all building systems.

Main Building was conceived in 1887 as flexible, industrial-style training space. What was restored is its latest iteration: offices, lounges, seminar rooms, exhibition space, lecture halls, computer rooms, and painting studios.

Photos: © Brian Rose