Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music
COOKFOX’s design of the new Bruce Springsteen Archive and Center for American Music (BSACAM) will celebrate the life, legacy, and art of Bruce Springsteen within the broader history of American Music. The building will establish a new home for the current Archives located at Monmouth University, the location of some of Springsteen’s earliest public performances and a site of continued collaboration. Situated in Long Branch, New Jersey, the new structure reflects its regionality with discrete material references. Our vision simultaneously balances the institution’s programmatic needs as an exhibition, educational, and archival space with an architectural concept that is rooted in the images of Springsteen’s story telling.
The Monmouth University campus is anchored by two architecturally significant gilded age mansions, the Great Hall at Shadow Lawn and the Guggenheim Memorial Library, which serve as the administrative and academic centers for the institution. BSACAM is balanced between these buildings to become a third anchor and will serve as a gateway for the engagement between visitors and the university. To reinforce this concept, the building’s theater aperture is oriented to frame a view of the monumental gateway to the university. The weathering steel mass, inspired by New Jersey’s industrial infrastructure, surfs above an undulating grassy meadow of native plantings, reminiscent of both the bridges and boardwalks that characterize the coastal region. Designed in collaboration with LaGuardia Design Group, the topography is filled with native plantings that reconstruct the region’s coastal ecology, improves local biodiversity and acts as a bioswale for managing stormwater.
Storytelling, perhaps the motivation for Springsteen’s career as well as the formation of his Archives, can also be experienced through the built environment. The design of the entrance sequence helps situate visitors within the larger context of American Music, and a September 9th 1956 threshold highlights an important milestone in Springsteen’s life and career. Visitors then enter a double-height entry hall, which bisects the open interior layout into a performance theater to the North and exhibition galleries to the South. Lower-level galleries feature displays about the heritage of American music while exhibitions about Springsteen and the E Street Band will be located on the second floor. The Archives, occupying a large portion of the second floor, are available for both amateur and serious musical scholars.
The weathered steel rain screen panels rotate to reveal glazing underneath, illuminating displayed archival objects safely with clerestory lighting. The performance space has been engineered to perform at a high standard for musical performance, academic performances, and video screenings. Designed to museum standards, the all-electric building will be the University’s first LEED Certified project. A mass timber structure reduces embodied carbon while reinforcing the warmth and familiarity many associate with Bruce Springsteen’s music.
Landscape Architect: LaGuardia Design Group; Structural Engineering: DeSimone Consulting Engineers; MEP: Dagher Engineering; Lighting: One Lux Studio; Acoustic: Longman Lindsey; Theater: Harvey Marshall Berling Associates; Code Consultant: Design 2147 Ltd.; Specifications: Long Green Specs.