F.Y.I.- The Fortunate Facade
By MICHAEL POLLAK, NYT, August 8, 2004
Q. The wrecking ball is moving closer to the old Henry Miller Theater on West 43rd Street. Is it going to be demolished, and if so, any thought given to saving the fine masonry pieces on the facade?
A. Have no fear. The exterior of the theater, built in 1917-18 and located east of Seventh Avenue next to the Condé Nast building, is a city landmark. The facade will stay where it is.
Demolition is about to begin on the rear of the theater, but the Durst Organization, which is building the 51-story Bank of America office tower to the east, plans to rebuild and expand the playhouse, which most recently was home to “Urinetown” and was previously transformed into the Kit Kat Club for “Cabaret.”
Built to seat 950 people, the redesigned theater will hold about 1,000, said Douglas Durst, president of the Durst Organization. Complying with modern codes, the theater’s overall space will grow to 35,000 square feet from 13,000.
The theater will lie below grade level, and patrons will enter at the balcony level. There will be one balcony instead of the former two. The theater will not lie flush between two giant office buildings, but instead the facade will protrude. “It won’t look like it’s pasted on,” Mr. Durst said. Glass enclosures on the side will make it possible to see some of the box shape from the street.
And the facade? “There’s a tremendous amount of preservation work to be done,” Mr. Durst said. For six weeks, workers have been removing items from the interior to be preserved; little of the interior structure will be saved except for an elliptical entrance, which will be rebuilt.