NEW YORK, NY
The West Side YMCA occupies a stately brick building on West 63rd Street. Inside, the Little Theater had fallen into disrepair from its once rich appearance. The project rehabilitates the theater with contextual design elements while improving overall functionality with modern accessibility, amenities and a technological upgrade for use as a performance theater for drama and dance, music performance, readings, conferences, and film screenings.
The theater and several adjacent support spaces have been organized as a self-contained unit that can be accessed from the Y’s main entrance or through a separate entrance. This arrangement is seamlessly integrated with the Y, or it can stand alone as a rental facility with a separate accessible entrance, independent lobby, and box office. Adjacent rooms serve as lobby or as divisible multi-purpose rooms. New public toilets have been provided.
The theater has permanent tiered seating in curved rows for 141 patrons. Sightlines to the stage are optimized by staggering seats of different dimension. A sound-proof control room is provided at the back-of-house for stage management, lighting, and projection controls. Seating is spacious and comfortable and wheelchair viewing positions are provided.
The stage renovation includes a performance quality stage floor, motorized rigging, and code-compliant accessibility improvements. New stage lighting and stage sound systems are installed to bring up-to-date technology to the Y. Theater-quality video projection systems and screen have been installed.
The ceiling restoration provided an opportunity to place front-of-house lighting and sound positions and address acoustical problems associated with the domed shape. A new sprinkler system and house lighting system is concealed behind the ceiling. New quiet and efficient heating and cooling systems have been installed.
New wood, upholstery fabrics, and architectural detailing in the theater create a warm palette that blends with finishes and appointments elsewhere in the building. Lacy metal-work railings articulate the gentle curve of the seat bank and allow views of seating and stage from the entry. Dark wood wainscoting, doors, and trims surround the periphery while light woods and fabrics brighten the seat bank. A custom made ceiling chandelier of steel and mica develop the Moorish vocabulary found in the building. The seat bank guardrail is topped with a wood rail cap that ends with a scrolled lambs tongue punctuated with a blown amber glass ornament. These craft details bring human scale elements and hand-made quality to the space.