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Lee Harris Pomeroy provided counsel to Actors’ Equity Association in its fight to save the historic Morosco and Helen Hayes Theaters, two of Broadway’s oldest and most prominent playhouses, threatened with demolition to make way for a new Portman Hotel. The Morosco alone had produced more Pulitzer Prize-winning plays than any theater in the nation.

An alternate design by LHPA incorporating the historic theaters into the Portman Hotel design retained Portman’s major amenities - an atrium, exhibition halls, restaurants, lobbies and retail shops; but by re-orienting the hotel 180 degrees, allowed incorporation of the historic theaters in the new development.

The proposal received enthusiastic, widespread support from Actor’s Equity, the Municipal Art Society of New York, the American Institute of Architects and the New York Landmarks Conservancy. But a U.S. Supreme Court decision allowed the owners to raze both buildings to make room for the new 50-story Portman Hotel.

Following the demolition of the Helen Hayes and Morosco Theaters, an organization called Save the Theaters Inc. was formed to study the future of the remaining Broadway theaters. Lee Harris Pomeroy Architects, along with such prominent New Yorkers as Joseph Papp, Woody Allen, Carole Burnett, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, and Alan Alda worked with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Actors’ Equity Foundation, and The National Trust for Historic Preservation, to come up with recommendations to protect the unique character of the theatre district while encouraging appropriate real estate development.

Their proposal led the way for the designation of an historic district and landmark status for 46 remaining Broadway theaters and an innovative zoning plan which would include air rights transfers to encourage mixed-use development in the area. This has been one of the most successful special district zoning plans in the New York City in history.

Today a reborn Broadway is thriving and serves as an essential part of New York's tourism industry and its flourishing arts community.

Award:

  • Certificate of Merit, Municipal Art Society

Publications: