NYC's City Center To Be Renovated

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New York City Center--home to many companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Paul Taylor Dance Company, and Manhattan Theatre Club--has unveiled plans to renovate its midtown Manhattan location, preserving its neo-Moorish style, while updating facilities, seating, lighting, and improving sightlines.

Polshek Partnership Architects will undertake the renovation to the venue, originally constructed in 1923 as a meeting hall for the Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. Fisher Dachs Associates, Inc. is the theatre consultant working on the renovation.

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City Center's building was dedicated by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in 1943 as Manhattan's first performing arts center. The renovation project will take place in two phases, from late April to September 2010 and then from March to October 2011.

Here's additional information from the official annnouncement:

The design addresses and resolves a number of functional shortcomings inherent in the original building while retaining its distinctive appeal. A new canopy on the exterior with additional exterior lighting and signage, subject to the approval of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, will announce the theatre's presence more visibly on the street and define the building more dramatically within its urban context. In the interior, the original box office lobby and mezzanine lobby will be faithfully restored, and several dramatic new spaces will be introduced, including an expanded and redesigned street level lobby and a new patrons' lounge that capitalizes on an existing alley space. The number of restroom facilities of the theatre will be increased by 50%. Upgrades to the auditorium will include the re-sloping of the floors to improve sightlines within the house, and the reconfiguration, respacing and resizing of theatre seating throughout to make it compatible with contemporary standards and to provide more comfort and improved ADA accessibility for all patrons.

The renovation respects and enhances the original theatre's much-loved Moorish-accented design motifs. In addition to the careful restoration of many of the spaces, the new design insertions have been based on a careful study of the underlying geometric motifs of Islamic architecture, reinterpreted to be complimentary but not imitative of the existing fabric. The architects' goal is to create a vibrant new venue, with all of the conveniences and amenities that contemporary patrons expect, but one that is still "City Center," beloved by generations of New York City theatergoers.

Back of house improvements include a new "sprung" stage floor suitable for dance, all new theatrical support systems, a completely refurbished dressing room tower and ADA-accessible toilets for the performers.

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