|By Joseph Dalton
As aerial dancers ranged over the exterior of the half-completed Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) while a string quartet played, pyrotechnics blazed, and the sun set in autumnal reds and oranges over Troy, an audience of more than 2,000 people got a tantalizing glimpse of the future of Rensselaer. The eventEMPAC 360held three years ago, introduced the campus community and its neighbors to what President Shirley Ann Jackson calls “an audacious experiment that brings together the worlds that create the new Rensselaer.”
Today, as the Institute prepares for the opening celebrations of EMPAC in October, the president’s vision of this bold experiment, and the reality of this signature building and program are rising on the west side of the Troy campus, where the green glass structure overlooks the Hudson River and the region.
While a wholly new facility and program, EMPAC builds on the traditional strengths of Rensselaer, says President Jackson. “We have taken the distinctive heritage of the Institute as a scientific, engineering, and technological university, and have created a place where scientists come together with artists for research and education at the nexus of the arts, the sciences, and technology in a venue of unparalleled quality.”
EMPAC director Johannes Goebel has described this vision as “an experiment based on a premise that we as humans can go outside the box each one of us creates around ourselves.” As a one-of-a-kind forum where engineers, scientists, and artists come together, EMPAC will help to shape a new kind of leader, “not just an expert in his or her own field but one who can think out of the box.”
|With the opening of EMPAC, Rensselaer takes a giant leap into a future where imagination meets science, technology,
and the arts.
With the opening of the building on Oct. 3, Goebel and other Rensselaer faculty, staff, students, and colleagues from around the world will find themselves inside “the box”a spectacularly engineered, 220,000-square-foot platform for research, performance, and the development of revolutionary, world-changing new ideas.
“Because EMPAC takes us into entirely uncharted territory, because it is impossible to define the concepts of the future, because we are moving to an age where complexity of challenge demands complexity of approachit is logical that EMPAC will be, and will become, different things to different people,” says President Jackson. “When paired with the CCNI supercomputer, EMPAC will enable human-scale interactive exploration of immersive/sensory environments,” adds John Kolb ’79, vice president for information services and technology and CIO. “This will allow broad exploration in fields such as dynamic investigation of fluid dynamics, artificial intelligence, free-space optics, molecular design, financial modeling, nanotechnology, gaming, and more.”
“Some envision a platform for performance...others see EMPAC as a multi-tiered instrument of music, of movement, and of sound and light. Still others see it as an implement for research and innovation across a broad spectrum of fields,” President Jackson says. “The truly unique and new will occur where all of these perspectives come together to intersect, collaborate, and create. I know of no other university making this degree of commitment to its intellectual and physical transformation.”
Grand Opening Celebration Schedule of Events