Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces


New Brunswick Performing Arts Center

Project Name: New Brunswick Performing Arts Center

A 23-story state of the art mixed use arts hub housing two theaters and rehearsal space for beloved local theater companies and university students; with office space and mixed-income housing to support the vibrant local community. 

Primary Partner Team: New Brunswick Development Corporation; City of New Brunswick; County of Middlesex; Rutgers University; Pennrose; New Brunswick Parking Authority


New Brunswick Performing Arts Center
A Masterpiece for the Community 

“Great societies and great cities are judged on how they treat artists and what art means to the community. In doing this project, we’re fulfilling the call to the next generation that arts will continue to be an important part of the growth of the city. The arts have always been a vital part of New Brunswick.”—New Brunswick Development Corporation President Chris Paladino 

This 23-story, mixed-use redevelopment has brought state-of-the art facilities to New Brunswick’s performing arts organizations rivaling some of the best performance venues in the world while also fulfilling local demand for housing and office space. 

Adjacent to the State Theatre, the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC) is located in the heart of New Brunswick’s cultural district and in the footprints of the former sites of  Crossroads Theatre Company and George Street Playhouse. The first four levels were purposely designed to maximize performance spaces and to provide rehearsal and other public spaces for use by the community. Though the theaters have been temporarily closed due to COVID-19, NBPAC’s initial months after opening in September 2019 were extraordinarily successful with a groundswell of support from the community and record-breaking ticket sales for its inaugural shows. 

NBPAC is home to George Street Playhouse, American Repertory Ballet, Crossroads Theatre Company, and Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts. The resident organizations were highly involved in the planning process that sought to address the community’s need for a rehabilitated cultural district. George Street Playhouse had been operating out of a dysfunctional space in a former YMCA that cost more to keep open than the theater company could afford. Crossroads Theatre next door was also operationally inefficient and in disrepair. The NBPAC offers two state-of-the art theaters and rehearsal spaces for its resident organizations to utilize rent free, an arrangement that has enabled the organizations to survive the COVID-19 shutdown. 

Made possible through an extensive public-private partnership and investment of $172 million, the NBPAC includes a large contemporary theater, a smaller playhouse, dedicated rehearsal spaces, and enhanced patron amenities and accessibility. A tower rises above the theater space, providing 30,000 square feet of administrative and meeting space for community arts organizations, and more than 200 private apartments. Twenty percent of the apartments are designated as affordable, and are prioritized for tenants in the performing arts industry. Residence amenities include a rooftop pool, fire pit, sky lounge with panoramic views of New Brunswick, a fitness center and yoga studio, a demonstration kitchen, and bicycle storage. 

NBPAC’s location enables building occupants to take advantage of the dense and diverse neighborhood features and walkable downtown, as well as the community’s exceptional public transit options. Building on the project’s prime location, ample bicycle parking was included to utilize New Brunswick’s bicycle network. A number of energy efficient features were included in the building’s design, as well as low-flow water fixtures. 

NBPAC is truly a masterpiece in design and concept. The collaborations resulting from the shared facility and the community at large will contribute to long-term sustainability and growth of the vibrant downtown arts district in New Brunswick, and will ensure continued cultural growth for the next generation. 

See all 2020 Smart Growth Awards

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