Cultural institution given dramatic restoration makeover
This large-scale renovation of the 2209 seat New York City Centre reinvigorates the identity of one of New York City's most venerable performing arts venues. The neo-Moorish building was originally constructed as the National Mecca Temple for the Shriners in 1923. In 1943, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia purchased the hall to become the "people's performance space," as opposed to the more elite Carnegie Hall. The building has continued to serve this function for the past seventy years, providing a wide range of popular entertainments - dance, musical theatre, music, and drama - and filling an essential role in the cultural landscape of New York City.
Ennead's design preserves the essential character of this beloved New York City institution, albeit beautifully restored and dramatically enhanced with modern patron amenities. The design resolves a number of functional shortcomings while retaining the distinctive appeal of the original building. A new marquee on the exterior with additional exterior lighting and signage announces the theatre's presence more visibly on the street and defines the building dramatically within its urban context.
On the interior, the original box office lobby and mezzanine lobby have been faithfully restored, and several dramatic new spaces have been introduced. 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 complementary but not imitative of the existing fabric. The goal has been to create a vibrant new venue, with all of the conveniences and amenities that contemporary patrons expect, but one that is still "City Centre," beloved by generations of New York City theatre goers.