Broadway Theater District
LHPA 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.
Certificate of Merit, Municipal Art Society
Broadway Theatre Properties Key To Redevelopment Plan; Real Estate Weekly
New Design Offered for Portman Hotel; Daily News
Architect Talks About His Theatre Plan; New York Construction News
N.Y. Actor's Group Pushing Historic Theater District; Preservation News
Views: Portman Aftermath; Skyline
Honor Architect's Plan to Save Theaters; Daily News
Municipal Art Society Giving Awards; The New York Times
Morosco Curtain Falls; Daily News
Joe Papp's Vow to Save Theaters; New York Post
Antidemolition Actors to Play Streets; The New York Times
The Portman Project; The New York Times
Portman Drama: A Crowded Stage; The New York Times
Broadway Stages a Drama to Save 2 Theaters; The New York Times
Portman Still Pending; Skyline
Portman's Doors Swing Open for City Official; New York Magazine
Lobbying For & Against a Hotel; Wall Street Journal
No Lullaby of Broadway: Portman Opposition; Skyline
Broadway Plaza's Mixed Reviews; Skyline
The Portman Project: Is it An Asset or An Albatross?; The New York Times
Portman's Hotel: Assault on a Mythic Center?; Wall Street Journal
Judge Halts Portman Project Over White House Influence; New York Post
Whitewash on White Way; Skyline
Portman Foes Suggest Way To Retain Theatres But Developer Says Nix; Variety
Revised Hotel Design Urged to Save Theaters; The New York Times