The New York City Center has unveiled plans to modernize and restore its historic midtown theater with a project designed by Polshek Partnership Architects who was careful to respect its original Moorish-accented design.

Originally constructed in 1923, the building was dedicated by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia 20 years later as Manhattan’s first performing arts center. Now, the center will undergo a series of upgrades including improved seating and sightlines and new amenities. A new canopy with additional exterior lighting and signage will also be added, subject to the approval of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

In the interior, the original box office lobby and mezzanine lobby will be restored and several new spaces will be introduced including an expanded and redesigned street level lobby and a new patrons’lounge. The number of restroom facilities will be increased by fifty percent and the auditorium will be improved in order to meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“When people step into the refreshed and reanimated City Center, we hope they will feel we’ve given them a thoroughly top-line, modern performing arts center, that remains true to their affection for this wonderful place,” stated Duncan Hazard, Partner in Charge, Polshek Partnership Architects.

The $75 million Campaign for City Center: Preserving the Past, Securing the Future is already 76% of the way toward its goal and the city of New York has committed more than $35.6 million to the capital campaign to renovate the city-owned property, with funds coming from the Office of the Mayor through the Department of Cultural Affairs, the City Council and the Office of the Manhattan Borough President.

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The renovation of the one-time meeting hall for the Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine will consist of two phases: from late April through September 2010 and from mid-March through October 2011.