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EMPAC mission
EMPAC - Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center
EMPAC is a place and a program, where the arts challenge and alter our technology and technology challenges and alters the arts.

Founded by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, EMPAC is an arts institution that draws strength from being part of a great research university. It operates nationally and internationally: attracting innovative artists, both renowned and emerging, from around the world; offering artists, researchers, and audiences opportunities that are available nowhere else under a single roof; providing unsurpassed facilities for creative exploration, and for research in fields such as visualization and movement capture; sending new artworks onto the global stage.

Fundamental to this process is the interweaving of architecture and content. With meticulous care for the physical realities that underlie experimental art--the capabilities of our eyes and ears, the characteristics of the space where art comes to life-- the building and program have been tightly joined from the earliest planning stage, under the leadership of Rensselaer's President, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, and EMPAC's Director, Johannes Goebel.

Both are committed to making EMPAC a prime research facility and an intellectual force on the Rensselaer campus, a transforming presence in New York's Capital Region, and a leading resource on the world's cultural scene. Previously the director of the Institute for Music and Acoustics, which he founded at the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany, Johannes Goebel brings to EMPAC his experience as a composer, producer, and mentor of intermedia art and interdisciplinary research.

A building designed as both a signature work of architecture and a tool for programs, EMPAC's building will provide artists, researchers, and audiences with opportunities that are nowhere else available under a single roof.

  • 4 studios for artists-in-residence (with another 4 located elsewhere on campus),
  • professional-level recording, editing, and post-production facilities for audio and video, and broadcasting facilities for Rensselaer's student radio station, WRPI.
  • The sweeping, audacious EMPAC building will house an architecturally distinguished 1,200- seat concert hall designed to the highest standards for performance and listening,
  • a 400-seat theater with an 80' x 40' stage and 60' fly tower, offering an exceptional range of possibilities to experimental artists,
  • a 3,500-square-foot studio with 40- foot-high ceilings, optimized for dance and visual presentations (from multiscreen to immersive environments) and well-suited for music,
  • a 2,500-square-foot studio with 28-foot-high ceilings, optimized for music and well-suited for visual presentations and dance,
  • a 1,400-square-foot rehearsal studio,


The design architect for EMPAC is Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners, London and New York, acclaimed designers of The Eden Project, the Royal College of Art, and International Terminal Waterloo. The architect of record is the distinguished New York City architectural firm Davis Brody Bond. Working in collaboration with the architects are theater designers Fisher Dachs Associates and acousticians Kirkegaard Associates, both leaders in their fields.

A Program Even as its extraordinary building takes shape, EMPAC's program is steadily growing. Drawing on international circles, EMPAC is alreading inviting artists to reside on campus, commissioning exciting new performance works, and launching a series of longdistance collaborations with other institutions.

On campus, EMPAC is building bridges to Rensselaer's schools and departments through lectures, presentations, and performances. Off campus, EMPAC is presenting exhibitions and performances in collaboration with other institutions in the Capital Region, the Berkshires, and New York City.

By the time it marks the completion of its home with a festival of experimental arts, EMPAC will be able to celebrate not just the opening of a new building, but the realization of a fully functioning program.

Once its building is complete, EMPAC will provide unique resources to its artists in residence. EMPAC's facilities will enable artists to direct our senses into concentrated experiences, and to investigate and expand the technology that allows these experiences to arise.

A wide range of innovators--from the venerable and famous to the young and promising, from individuals to companies--will initiate or develop new work during long-term stays at EMPAC.

EMPAC will be a point of origin for new productions, developed within its unparalleled facilities.

It will be a point of intersection between artists and researchers in science and technology. And it will be a gathering point for audiences, for whom EMPAC will present exciting new performances, installations, and events.

Spanning and exploring the differences between art and science the interplay between art and technology the meanings that cross borders

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