Helpern Architects

Pratt Main Building Studios

Brooklyn, New York
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, dislodging students and administration alike. Helpern Architects, which knew the building from major work on the historic facade in 2006, was asked for 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 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 close as possible to the pre-fire aspect. We also upgraded all building systems.

Main Building was conceived by Lamb & Rich 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