Fire at Pratt Damages Building, Destroys Artwork

The fire that broke out at Pratt Institute early Friday morning badly damaged the 1887 landmarked building at 200 Willoughby Avenue and destroyed student artwork housed in the 42 upper floor studios used by seniors. According to a statement from the school, “the six-story building’s roof and its sixth floor were gutted. The fifth floor was badly damaged by the fire and there is water damage throughout the building.” One student who lost all of her work just before her interview at Yale University’s graduate school of art told the Times, “‘My studio’s gone, everything I’ve made at Pratt is gone,’ Ms. De Los Angeles said, sobbing as she stood outside the student union near the site of the fire. ‘I don’t even think I have a pencil.’” The chief of fire operations told the paper, “‘inside there’s quite a bit of destruction. It’s all wood inside and the roof did collapse on the left side of the building on the top floor. There’s a lot of damage up there, and we have a lot of water damage.’” The fire caused minor injuries to three firefighters and one unidentified person and the blaze is under investigation. Classes that would normally take place in the building are being scheduled elsewhere.

Fire at Pratt Institute Destroys Studios and Artwork of Students [NY Times]
Fire Claims Student Artwork [NY Post]
Massive Fire at Pratt Damages Building [Brownstoner]

Photo via Fire Fighting News

5 Comment

  • If my memory serves me right I believe there was a very similar fire at Pratt maybe 30 or 40 years ago – yokes, am I THAT old?. ( I’ve tried googling it but have had no luck)

  • Damn shame. But you probably can’t ask for a better fire starter than an art studio full of paint and canvas. Not to mention any sculpting or welding materials…

  • minard

    There was a big fire in Higgins Hall, the architecture school, about 18 years ago. afterwards, they decided to build the new glass addition by Steven Holl, which was much admired by the architecture crowd. Higgins Hall itself was restored and the portion of facade that crashed onto parked cars was rebuilt. I remember going there and seeing the row of squished cars along Lafayette Avenue. The entire side gable collapsed. today you can’t even tell that there was such a big fire there.

  • Higgins Hall burned in 1996 (also in the wee hours of the morning). That was three buildings, and also involved art studios…and it was merciful that it didn’t consume adjacent residential buildings as well. So if you count those, and now Main, four Pratt buildings have burned in 17 years, all containing studio space.

    One article stated that there were no sprinklers in the art studio on the sixth floor of Main, as their absence was “grandfathered in.” Don’t think there were any in Higgins, either, at the time that it burned Fire alarms? While unidentified Pratt personnel stated in one recent article that all its fire alarms were in working order, there was no statement that there actually were fire alarms in the studio space where the fire in Main apparently started. One article stated that it was a melting burglar alarm wire that alerted Pratt security staff to a problem in Main. If those statements are true (and perhaps we’ll hear more when the FDNY concludes its investigation), then for a college with an architecture school and a buildings maintenance program, Pratt seems oddly penny wise and pound foolish with respect to fire safety. Instead of hand-wringing and talking of “tragedy” now, students should be demanding adequate fire prevention, especially if, as indicated in most reporting, they’re working in these studio spaces 24/7.