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Frank Gehry's New Hell's Kitchen Theaters Revealed

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That the 60-story mixed-use tower now under construction by the Related Companies at 440 West 42nd Street will have a pod hotel is not the most interesting thing about the building. Nope, that title goes to the development's three theaters and adjoining lobby designed for the Signature Theatre Company by I-am-not-a-starchitect Frank Gehry. According to a Times story on the Signature's new home, the interiors will be built out beginning in August, and the show will go on in January 2012. The plywood look seen above in Gehry's models will carry through to the finished products. Gehry, the Times writes, "used plywood to create intimate, casual spaces with craftsmanlike elements." Clever and thrifty, now that's a starchitect! Oh crap, now he's coming to murder us in our sleep. Here's the breakdown of each new FOGgy creation, via a press release:

The Jewel Box (first in the photo gallery): The most intimate of the three theatres and has 199 seats. The intent of this space is to pull the patrons as close as possible to the stage, creating a compression that will allow for an intense and intimate theatre experience. This theatre has a single balcony and is reminiscent of a tiny opera house. This room has the most articulated architectural expression with shaped plywood panels framing the proscenium, wrapping around the balcony front and creating a ceiling under the lighting bridges above the house. These panels will be stained a deep chocolate brown that will disappear as the house is faded to black.

The End Stage: The largest of the 3 theatres in the Center with 299 seats. It is the most similar to the Peter Norton Space, the company’s current home. A straight rake of seating rises from the stage edge and is contained within plywood walls that give the space a subtle architectural expression. The shaped panels of the walls will be painted to fade to black as they approach the stage, creating a transition from the architectural space of the room to the scenic space of the play. A large doorway will connect this theatre to the lobby. The closing of this door will indicate that the play is about to begin.

The Courtyard: A 199-seat flexible theatre. The courtyard form, which has a long history in the development of theatre, will give this space distinction from the other two theatres. This theatre can be used in an endstage format, as a modified thrust stage, a runway center stage configuration, or in a flat floor format for experimental work. Each of these configurations has a second level gallery that seats patrons in a single line overlooking the stage. This small theatre will place patrons in a very intimate relationship with the actors.

Lobby : The Signature Center is entered from the sidewalk on 42nd Street under a glass canopy that will protect patrons from the elements and identify the Center with signage. This sculptural design element will give the Center a strong presence and sense of arrival. The street level lobby is compact and visually dominated by a plywood clad stairway that will lead to a gracious upper lobby and then to the three theatres. The extensive 2nd floor lobby will be used for informal gatherings and includes a bar and informal café seating. The lobby also includes a small bookstore area where books by current and past Playwrights-in-Residence will be sold, and audience enrichment materials relating to current Playwrights-in-Residence and their Signature residencies will be made available.
· New Signature Theater, Close to the Old [NYT]
· 440 West 42nd Street coverage [Curbed]

440 West 42nd Street

440 West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10036

Signature Center

440 West 42nd Street, New York, NY