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On the Boards: Signature Center by Frank Gehry

August 24, 2010

By Tony Illia

Gehry is designing a $60 million new home for the Signature Theatre Company.
Gehry is designing a $60 million new home for the Signature Theatre Company.
The theater will be located inside a new glass tower by Arquitectonica and Ismael Leyva Architects.
Image courtesy Edward M. Kennedy Institute
Gehry is designing a $60 million new home for the Signature Theatre Company. The theater will be located inside a new glass tower by Arquitectonica and Ismael Leyva Architects.
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New York City’s Signature Theatre Company has added some star power to its line-up: Frank Gehry.

The Los Angeles-based architect is designing a $60 million permanent home for the 19-year-old, off-Broadway theater company inside a glass tower now rising at West 42nd Street and 10th Avenue, one block east of Signature’s current location. The theater company originally had planned to move to a freestanding venue the World Trade Center site but backed out due to costs and complications.

N.Y.C. is contributing $25 million toward construction of the new 70,000-square-foot performing arts space; the remaining balance will come from private investors. In addition to bringing Signature closer to Theater Row, the venue will be four times larger than the company’s current home, which contains a single 160-seat auditorium. The new facility will feature a 299-seat end-stage theater and two 199-seat flexible theaters. It also will have a shared lobby, dual-rehearsal studios, administrative offices, a bookstore, and a café.

Signature Center, as it’s called, will be located at the base of a now-under-construction 59-story residential and hotel tower. Designed by Arquitectonica and Ismael Leyva Architects, the $800 million, 1.2-million-square-foot high-rise will have 800 units, with 160 of them geared toward low-income families. The tower, which is being developed by The Related Companies, is scheduled to open in 2011.

The new Signature Center will debut in 2012. “Our goal was to design the spaces to support their mission of creating innovative theater,” said Gehry in a statement. “We’re all very excited about the direction we’ve taken and are looking forward to watching the first performance.”

Gehry’s other projects in N.Y.C. include the IAC Building, completed in 2007, and the 76-story Beekman Tower, which is now under construction.

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