Handel Performing Arts Center
University of Hartford
Hartford, CT


This new performing arts center for the Hartt School of the University of Hartford is housed in a collection of industrial buildings designed by Albert Kahn built in 1928 for General Motors and used most recently as an automobile dealership. The complex had been abandoned for several years and was in near-collapse at the start of the project, but the large clear-span industrial spaces seemed ideal for dance, music and theater studios. A complete restructuring of the buildings and site was undertaken, resulting in a state-of-the-art performance center for this nationally-acclaimed music school.

The complex comprises almost 72,000-SF in three rehabilitated industrial buildings, providing spaces designed for vocal, dance, theatre, and community programs. It includes two performance spaces, rehearsal and recital rooms, dance studios, teaching and office space, a performance library, classrooms, a scene shop, costume shop, community space, bank, and café.


The completion of this project also initiated other projects in the area that inspired the stabilization and rehabilitation of the Upper Albany commercial district of Hartford.


  • Hartford Preservation Alliance Award

  • Connecticut Preservation Award from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation

  • Connecticut Main Street Center Award of Excellence for Adaptive Reuse

  • Connecticut Real Estate Exchange Award for Adaptive Reuse


  • 72,000-SF

  • Cost:  $21 million