New Broadway Theater To Be First LEED-Rated

New York City will soon have its first LEED-rated Broadway theater. 

The Durst Organization and Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) yesterday announced the completion of Henry Miller’s Theatre on West 43rd Street in Times Square. The 1,055-seat house is located inside the new 55-story Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park. Developers are seeking LEED Platinum
certification for the office tower and LEED Gold for the theater.

Henry Miller’s Theatre is the first newly built Broadway theater in more than two decades and sets new standards for environmentally sustainable design and construction of performing arts venues. The 50,000-square-foot theater is located behind the preserved and restored neo-Georgian façade of the original 1918 theater.

The design and construction were undertaken by a project team including Cook+Fox Architects LLP, historic preservationists Higgins & Quasebarth, theater consultant Fisher Dachs Associates, theater acoustician Jaffe Holden Acoustics, Inc., and Tishman Construction Corporation as Construction Manager.  The Associate Architect is Adamson Associates of Toronto, Canada.  Roundabout Theatre Company will program theatrical productions in the theater.

“This one-of-a-kind theater adds to the excitement of the nation’s first LEED Platinum skyscraper, One Bryant Park,” said Empire State Development Corporation President & CEO Marisa Lago. Empire State Development Corporation is a joint venture of Durst Organization and Bank of America.

“This project sets the standard for environmental stewardship in theater design and, given the visibility of the project, it admirably recognizes Broadway’s potential to influence public opinion and inspire positive action,” said Allen Hershkowitz, a Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council who coordinates NRDC’s Broadway Goes Green collaboration.

The Theater features 95% air filtration, carbon dioxide sensors to maximize fresh air supply, and the selection of healthy, low-emitting materials. Environmentally responsible materials used in the theater’s construction include Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood products used extensively in finishes; high-recycled content wall panels and baseboards; locally sourced marble flooring and countertops; and waterless urinals to reduce consumption of potable water.

45% of cement in the foundation and superstructure concrete mix designs was replaced with blast furnace slag, a by-product of iron manufacturing, significantly reducing the amount of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. A minimum 85% of construction and demolition debris was diverted from landfill and instead was recycled.

To build the theater, Tishman Construction had to overcome major obstacles. According to David Horowitz, Senior Vice President of Tishman Construction and Project Director for One Bryant Park, “The façade had to be braced with an elaborate, temporary, three-story-high, structural-steel support frame, which stood on the sidewalk in front of the façade. Then the existing theater was delicately demolished behind it and the foundation excavated to a depth of 70 feet, the deepest foundation in midtown. The foundation walls are deeply seated into the bedrock, both to transfer the large lateral forces and to cut off groundwater.  An under-slab drainage system captures groundwater and then recycles it into the building’s gray water system.”

This foundation had to be excavated deeper than usual in order to make room for the theater’s back-of-the-house spaces such as dressing rooms, as well as the orchestra and mezzanine sections and building utilities, so the theater wouldn’t project above the historic façade.

The theater was closed in 2004 due to the construction of the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park. Working with historic preservation specialist Higgins & Quasebarth, Tishman Construction also managed the historic reconstruction of the oval reception room, and preservation of salvaged historic artifacts such as doors, wrought iron, and decorative plasterwork that are incorporated in the new architecture.

Given the age and poor condition of the façade, all of the terra cotta and brick had to be restored and cleaned, and all metal balconies and gates had to be repaired and cleaned. Workers also installed a new marquee, replacing the existing one, which was too degraded to be salvaged.

The original theater was planned by the writer, producer and actor Henry Miller.

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