Stephen Sondheim Theatre

The Stephen Sondheim Theatre (formerly the Henry Miller Theatre) was reconstructed with the goal of creating a modern Broadway playhouse that captures the intimacy and proportions of the original 1918 theatre designed by Allen, Ingalls & Hoffman. The historic, Neo-classical style landmarked façade was preserved and restored; the oval reception room, doors and decorative plasterwork, including the iconic urns marking the 43rd Street entrance, were salvaged and incorporated into the new design; and seating was increased to 1,000. A sophisticated acoustics system was integrated, as well as a larger orchestra pit and a fully functional fly-tower and scene loading facilities. The mezzanine is at street level in the theater and patrons go down one level to the orchestra, where two-thirds of the seating is located. New amenities include improved public circulation, box office and concessions areas, with a spacious lobby bar at the orchestra level, a bar and café at the ground level, a restaurant on the upper mezzanine. The new theater is fully accessible with 20 wheelchair-viewing positions. This project, achieved LEED Gold certification, was the first theater in New York to meet the environmental standards of the U.S. Green Building Council.

The building balances inherently contemporary LEED elements with nods to history. Walls that look like metal or stone are actually made of recycled paper, 95 percent of the air that comes into the building is filtered, and the building was even the first in the city to legally include waterless urinals.  Ice storage tanks under the theater curb the peak load of the building by generating ice at night that can be used during the day. Many of these environmentally-friendly materials were only just coming onto the market at the time.

Brick carries through the building as a way of helping visitors orient themselves, New Georgian detailing makes the place feel more like a house than a venue, and several sections of the theater are painted with a color that is the closest possible match to the "bright English green" specified in that 1918 Architectural Record description. One of those areas is the elevator, which is also meant to feel like a sort of "moving room" for theater attendees.

Location: 
New York, New York
Design Architect: 
Cook + Fox Architects
Architect of Record: 
Adamson Associates Architects
Client: 
The Durst Organization / Bank of America
Size: 
50,000 sf / 4,645 sm
Completion: 
2009