A Performance Fit for Broadway By Luke Carothers
The Palace Theater has sat facing Times Square since it opened in 1913. In occupying this critical space on Broadway, the Palace Theatre has become an iconic venue for theater and the performing arts. In its 109-year history, the structure has evolved to encompass a number of different uses. The space was originally used for vaudeville perfor- mances, then converted to house broadway productions, before being partially demolished and absorbed into a hotel. Now, the Palace Theatre is entering its next phase of this evolution, and is doing so with a grandeur and technical execution that is be - fitting of its theatrical history. Since construction began in 2019, the TSX Broadway project has been a symphony of moving parts. First conceived two years prior to construction, TSX Broadway is a multi-use development that, in addition to housing the iconic Palace Theatre, will also feature additional retail and entertainment space. To accommodate these new retail and entertainment features, the Pal- ace Theatre needed to be elevated 30 feet above its previous location and three floors needed to be excavated to provide additional retail space. Additionally, in maintaining the original structure’s overbuilt condition, 16 floors of the original structure are being renovated into a 669-room hotel. The TSX Broadway project is the vision of L&L Development Corpo- ration and Maefield Development. As expected, such a unique vision and project required collaboration between multiple firms to ensure its final execution. For the TXS Broadway project, Mancini Duffy, a national design firm with a 100+-year-old history and tech-forward approach headquartered in NYC, served as the Architect of Record for the development’s core, shell, and hotel. Perkins Eastman over- saw the facade design. On the preservation side, PBDW served as the Architect of Record for the theater’s design and historic preservation, and Jablonski Building Conservation also served as a consultant for historic preservation. On the engineering side, Urban Foundation En- gineering served as the Lift Engineer of Record and contractor while Langan provided consulting services for foundational engineering, and Severud served as the Structural Engineer of Record. One of the project’s major challenges was lifting the Palace Theatre to its new home, 30 feet above Times Square. The lifting of this structure was a massive undertaking requiring 34 hydraulic lifting posts to move the 7,000 ton structure. These hydraulic lifting posts pushed upward on a ring beam that surrounds the perimeter of the theater box, which encompasses roughly 40,000 square feet of space. With the structure lifted, the new lobby area, when completed, will double the usable area in this space to nearly 80,000 square feet. Moving the structure upward at a rate of a quarter inch per hour, the Palace Theatre took four months to elevate, reaching its designed height in May 2022.
Photo: L&L Holding Company
The plan for the renovation of this iconic space is to preserve the his- tory, nostalgia, and legacy of the Palace Theatre and, quite literally, elevate it into a new age of prominence in a setting that enhances the theater and performance experience for future generations to enjoy. By lifting the theater space approximately 30 feet above grade and excavating below ground-level, approximately 100,000 square feet of new, valuable usable space will be added. Given the project’s loca - tion, adding this volume of retail space adds a massive value to the project In addition to elevating the Palace Theatre structure, another major component of the project is a $50 million renovation of its entry spaces that includes refurbished ornate plaster, technology upgrades to allow 21st shows, 10,000 square feet of back-of-house space, a new lobby, a grand entrance, and a number of other upgrades to the guest experience. While the theater is being lifted and the lobby and retail podium are being constructed, work is simultaneously being done on a new hotel tower on top of the recreated podium. Adding to the complexity of the TSX Broadway is the process of elevat - ing a New York City Historic Landmark that is located on the busiest corner of the most heavily trafficked public space in the world as well as the numerous simultaneous operations. According to Bill Mandara Jr., Mancini’s CEO and Co-owner and TSX Broadway’s Architect of
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