The fate of the historic Provincetown Playhouse at 133 MacDougal Street has turned into a public relations nightmare for NYU. After building up all that goodwill with local preservationists following the non-binding agreement regarding how to sensitively pursue a six-million-square-foot expansion over the next 20 or so years, the school now threatens to piss it all away with the replacing of the beloved Greenwich Village theater. The NYU counter-offensive began this morning, when the school and architect Morris Adjmi explained that the façade would be restored to its original 1930s look, and the new building would be only slightly larger. Now, any second now, NYU will post the full proposal (warning: PDF) on its website, along with a note from Vice President for Government Relations and Community Engagement Alicia D. Hurley that basically says chill out, dudes, because the theater will be rebuilt and the design is super contextual. Seen above is Adjmi's design, but like a good drama, this story cannot be fully told in one act.
In fact, Adjmi's proposed design is actually NYU's third go-round at figuring out what to do with the Provincetown site. According to the PDF, the first idea brought about by the law school was a new 8-10 story building that would have maximized the buildable space allowed under the zoning. The current building would have been demolished. NYU says it was actually the agreement struck with the community that caused them to send the law school back to the drawing board.
The second proposal would have kept the original façade, but would have included a rear addition and three new stories plopped on top. A structural engineering report deemed that design impossible. Which brings us to the third, and current, design. The Times reported that the new building would only be three feet taller with one additional floor than the current building, but that's not quite true. It's three feet taller as seen from the street, but 13 feet taller in total, and it will be seven stories compared to the current building's five. The "low-scale, contextual, brick building" will contain a new theater with the same seating capacity, and the original pre-1940s-renovation façade will be protected during construction, then restored.
NYU also stresses in their materials that although the Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected to pursue a landmark designation for the building, and it's an as-of-right project, the school still wants to make as few people as possible hate them. Too bad they can't turn back the clock on St. Ann's.
· Rebuilding the Provincetown Playhouse [PDF]
· NYU: We'll Rebuild Playhouse Even Better! [Curbed]
· Honeymoon Over: NYU Has Playhouse Fight on its Hands [Curbed]