Red House Arts Center, a small regional venue in downtown Syracuse, has long been separated from its immediate urban context. Although the theater is located on a pivotal site between the Armory Square district and burgeoning development on the city’s Near West Side, it is isolated: the Redhouse and 219 West, an adjacent commercial property, sit on what is essentially a glorified traffic island, bordered by high-speed thoroughfares and a freight rail overpass.

When 219 West became available, a benefactor of the Redhouse redeveloped the existing three-story building as a multi-use cultural facility that complements the theater, enhances the local arts scene, and revitalizes this small but significant corner of the city.The building’s primary tenant SubCat Studios, an established independent recording studio, occupies the first floor and basement. Through multi-colored glass storefronts along S. West Street, passersby can view live recording sessions in progress. Music instruction and rehearsal areas are on the second floor. Three residential suites on the upper level provide accommodations for visiting artists.

The sleek, modern design distinguishes itself from the historic masonry fabric and reorients the building towards downtown Syracuse. The stair tower, clad in perforated metal panels, subtly references the area’s industrial past, and the ribbon of colored glass at the new lobby entrance establishes a clear sense of arrival.

219 West/Subcat Studios was honored with an AIANY Design Merit Award in the Spring of 2012.

Photos by Chris Cooper.