This large-scale renovation of the 2209 seat New York City Center will reinvigorate 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 the late 1930`s, 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 theater, music, and drama — and filling an essential role in the cultural landscape of New York City. The goal of our design is to preserve the essential character of this beloved New York City institution, albeit beautifully restored and dramatically enhanced with modern patron amenities. The design addresses and resolves numerous functional problems of the original building while retaining its distinctive and quirky appeal. A new marquee on the exterior with additional exterior lighting and signage will announce the theater`s presence more visibly on the street and define the building more dramatically within its urban context. On the interior, the original box office lobby and mezzanine lobby will be faithfully restored, and several dramatic new spaces will be introduced. In addition to the careful restoration of many of the spaces, our 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 Center,” beloved by generations of New York City theatergoers.

Renovation, 2011
Constructed, 1923


Old - AIA New York Chapter Merit Award in 2013