By Gehry: Signature Center Could Be Gotham’s First Green Off-Broadway Theater

Green performing arts space isn’t all that easy to find in Manhattan, let alone the five boroughs. The Signature Center in Hell’s Kitchen is about to change that.

Gehry - Signature Center Theatre

Designed by Frank Gehry (with H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture as architects of record), the 70,000-square-foot Signature Center within Related’s new LEED Silver-hopeful, 800-unit mixed-use MiMA development at 42nd Street and 10th Avenue will be targeting a LEED Platinum rating from USGBC. The performing arts center will be home to the Signature Theatre, which devotes an entire season of productions to one playwright. (At one time, the Signature was pegged to be one of the anchor arts organizations at the redeveloped World Trade Center site.)

But those talks fell through, and now the Signature Center should open next February on the lower and mezzanine levels of the MiMA, a massive rental development that itself is targeting a LEED Silver rating from USGBC. The Signature Center won’t just be a single performing arts space but will feature three separate theaters, rehearsal studios, a café, bookstore and administrative offices, and more than double Signature’s annual capacity to over 80,000 patrons. Related is confident of a February 2012 completion date for the project.

According to StructureTone, which is serving as construction manager, the project would become the first off-Broadway theater in New York City to achieve any level of LEED certification – let alone Platinum. The theater will purchase electricity from renewable energy sources, maximize the use of daylight, and use no CFC-based refrigerants. Locally-sourced building materials and FSC-certified wood products will complement Gehry’s design which features significant use of “traditional materials being used in new ways.”

One significant logistics challenge that StructureTone was forced to address is completing the Center while the MiMA’s building shell is still under construction. The 63-story tower’s glass exterior was designed by Arquitectonica with interiors furnished by David Rockwell’s Rockwell Group. 160 of its units will be set aside for low-income residents.

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