Pictured Above: An architectural rendering of Guild Hall’s renovation, which is slated to get underway this spring.

Guild Hall in East Hampton is embarking this spring on a facility-wide capital improvement project to reimagine its building at 158 Main Street for 21st Century audiences. 

The project will include structural and technological upgrades to Guild Hall’s grounds and near-century-old building — including its museum, theater, education center, and administrative offices.

Construction will begin in spring 2022, with completion and re-opening expected in late spring 2023.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to reimagine Guild Hall’s capabilities and offer artists, audiences, and the next generation the exceptional environment they deserve,” said Guild Hall’s Executive Director, Andrea Grover, in the Feb. 16 announcement of the project.

While construction is underway, Guild Hall will present a schedule of off-site arts programming at Works & Process at the Guggenheim Museum, The Church, Plain Sight Project, Eastville Community Historical Society and Museum, Project Most, Ma’s House & BIPOC Art Studio, DIA Art Foundation, Hamptons Dance Project, and other locations. 

Guild Hall has enlisted Peter Pennoyer Architects for the redesign, providing enhanced flexibility and flow, along with new sound and lighting systems in the gallery spaces, an art handling facility, improvements to staff offices designed to create a collaborative environment, and technological tools in its Boots Lamb Education Center, which will be used for art workshops and drop-in classes for students of all ages and experience levels, as well as by Guild Hall’s Teen Arts Council.

“Our approach is to restore traditional elements in a more contemporary way with the best technology available to us now — to bring Guild Hall into the future, while being respectful of its longstanding presence in East Hampton,” said Architect Peter Pennoyer. “We are excited to work closely with the rest of the design team to make Guild Hall a more welcoming and accessible place for visitors, staff, and artists.”

The plan will also include a remodeled lobby and visitor arrival area and landscaping design by Hollander Design | Landscape Architects to encourage gathering and socializing, adding to the existing tree canopy transition gardens and using native plants and grasses, along with terraced seating in the Frieda and Roy Furman Sculpture Garden.

Guild Hall’s plan also calls for much-needed improvements to its theater, spearheaded by Bran Ferren, co-founder of technology and creative design firm Applied Minds, LLC. Mr. Ferren, an East Hampton native and former Guild Hall Technical Director, will optimize acoustics and lighting and outfit the theater with top-of-the-line automatic technology and external broadcast capabilities to meet the evolving needs of today’s performing artists, while also improving sightlines and seating comfort for theatergoers. 

“Guild Hall has played such a pivotal role in the artistic and cultural evolution of East Hampton and of America, and the John Drew Theater is foundational in this,” said Mr. Ferren. “It’s essential that Guild Hall’s technology keep pace with artmaking today to continue its vital legacy in serving the next generations of artists and audiences.”

East End general contractor Ray Harden, co-owner of Ben Krupinski Builder, will lead project construction, and Sag Harbor’s Chris DiSunno of DiSunno Architecture will coordinate the theater improvements, with Jon Maass and Pamela Torres as owner’s representatives.

Launched with an early goal of $10 million on the occasion of Guild Hall’s 90th anniversary in 2021, the campaign was met with enthusiastic support and is now up to $25 million, which includes dedicated capabilities for advancing the institution’s arts program and its reserve fund, to deepen and sustain Guild Hall’s interdisciplinary programming, thought leadership, education, and community engagement on the East End for current and future generations.

“Guild Hall is the cultural heart of our community,” said Guild Hall Board Chair Marty Cohen. “Our board and leadership are fully committed to these visionary improvements because we believe that the evolution of our capabilities is essential to Guild Hall’s continued vitality.”

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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