Flashback: The New 42nd Street Studios / Platt Byard Dovell White Architects

Elliott Kaufmann

Architects: Platt Byard Dovell White Architects
Location: 225-229 West 42nd Street, New York,
Completed: 2000
Photographs: Elliott Kaufmann

Elliott Kaufmann

The New 42 Studio Building is a completely modern eleven-story creative “factory” for the performing arts designed for The New 42 Inc., the non-profit developer of the historic theaters of the 42nd Street Development Project. Mid-block on the north side of 42nd Street between Times Square and Eighth Avenue, the 84,000 square foot new building contains 12 rehearsal studios, 2 combined studio and reception halls, a 199 seat “black box” experimental theater – known as “The Duke on 42nd Street”– and related administrative offices, dressing and locker rooms, storage and other support space for dance companies and other non-profit performing arts groups. At the ground level the Studios incorporate retail space and the 42nd Street access to the lobby of the American Airlines Theater on 43rd Street, formerly known as the Selwyn.

In place of the conventional illuminated signage called for by the 42nd Street redevelopment project, the Studio Building’s façade is a collage of metal and glass, with sun-catching dichroic glass at the base, a 175 foot high-tech vertical LightPipe and an array of perforated metal blades presenting an infinitely variable display of colored light projected from ranks of programmable theatrical fixtures. Behind the blades, the transparent glass of the building adds the animation of the lights of the studios and the actual movements of the dancers at work and at the barres. Inside, the spirit of the collage pervades the building in inventive, colorful signage and graphics. Standing out from the hokey commercialism of its surroundings, the sensuous and engaging abstraction of the Studios strongly and appropriately announces 42nd Street’s principal working venue for performing artists operating at the creative edge. At the same time, the Studios’ inventive design explores and shows off for the first time some of the creative possibilities inherent in interpretations of the “tacky” lighting associated with historic Times Square and vindicates the notion that the “character” of Times Square was worth substantial public efforts to preserve.

exploded elevation

Winner of the 2002 AIA Honor Award for Architecture; 2001 New York State AIA Design Award; and 2001 New York Chapter AIA Design Award. Also winner of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, International Illumination Design Award – The Paul Waterbury Award for Outdoor Lighting Design Award of Distinction; the International Association of Lighting Designers, Special Citation IALD Award; and the New York Section of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, Lumen Award of Merit.

feature wall

The New 42nd Street Studios project was recently exhibited at New York’s Urban Center as one of the city’s 30 most distinguished buildings built during the last 30 years. It was featured in Marcia Reiss’s book Architecture in Detail: New York, as one of the twenty most significant buildings in the city, and in Peter Hyatt’s Great Glass Buildings.

Elliott Kaufmann

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Cite: "Flashback: The New 42nd Street Studios / Platt Byard Dovell White Architects" 04 Jan 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 Nov 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=197155>