130 West 56th Street (bet. Ave. of the Americas and 7th Ave.) NY City Center, Application for Replacement of Windows and Doors and Installation of a new Marquee and other changes and modifications.WHEREAS, New York City Center, once known as City Center of Music and Drama, is a 2,750-seat Moorish Revival concert hall, with executive offices at 130 West 56 Street, and its main entrance located at 131 West 55th Street, between Avenue of the Americas and 7th Avenues, is an individual New York City Landmark and has applied for a Certificate of Appropriateness for major facade improvements and renovations; and
WHEREAS, City Center is located one block south of Carnegie Hall and is especially known as a performing home for several major dance companies as well as the Encores! series and most recently the Fall for Dance Festival, and two smaller theatres, four studios and a 12-story office tower; and
WHEREAS, City Center, with an exterior landmarked in the '70s as part of saving the building (originally constructed in 1923, known as Mecca Temple, for the Shriners when they were required to move from Carnegie Hall), a theatrical venue with a main hall of almost 3,000 seats and 2 smaller stages of approximately 300 and 150 seats;, and
WHEREAS, the major theatrical designation of the building (although it was used occasionally for various performances in previous years) dates from its designation as City Center in 1943, and it is the 1943 details in lighting, signage, and marquee that are the main focus of the Application; and
WHEREAS, City Center is the rare major venue that is not on an avenue or major cross street, making it difficult to see on approach and therefore not well known by the general public; and
WHEREAS, over the decades changes were made by removing signage, removing entry canopies (replaced in the mid-90s) and lighting, at the same time, many of the architectural details that are the hallmark of the building, specifically the neo-Moorish details of the façade, remain intact; and
WHEREAS, the Application is focused on correcting three main areas - visibility, signage, and lighting, the principal elements of which are:
Marquee - combination of glass and bronze (replacing the existing separate canopied entries), similar to the recently LPC-approved marquee for Carnegie Hall, with the use of glass to permit better visibility of the ornate, elaborate facade elements, plus signage for identification of the building as New York City Center for taxi drop off and other purposes;
Signage - two new large vertical signs at either end of the building to provide visibility from the avenue corners, but interpreted in a more modern style than predecessor vertical signs dating back to 1923, also shown in 1950/1960 photographs; hanging signs under the marquee to replace the signs which are on the current canopies;
Flag Poles - The proposal does away with the existing flag poles and flag pole locations in order to make the new marquee more consonant in appearance and adds tile matching the original tilework to replace the façade area vacated by the removal of the flag poles;
Mezzanine Lobby Windows (seen on the façade) - restoration and repair of 12 casement windows directly above the lobby which are in disrepair;
Theatre Entry Doors - The arched doors installed in previous renovation will be removed and replaced with traditional bronze clad doors a closer approximation of the original in design and materials;
Lighting Plan - The facade (a Moorish tile "alfiz" with a large semicircular arch) will be illuminated with flood lights located within the Marquee and new downlights will be installed for improved sidewalk illumination; and
WHEREAS, the proposal maintains the integrity and details of the façade of City Center and is considered esthetically appropriate while correcting the efforts made piecemeal over the years to update the building without a cohesive plan; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of the Application of NY City Center, 131 West 55th Street, for Replacement of Windows and Doors and Installation of a new Marquee and other changes and modifications.
The above resolution passed by a vote of 38 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining, 1 present but not entitled to vote.