Monday, October 10, 2011

$200M Renovation Announced For Park Avenue Armory

The Park Avenue Armory - at 643 Park Avenue between 66th and 67th streets - has announced plans for a $200 million renovation of the site. The news is hardly unexpected, as it has been clear for some time that this former military structure was meant for better things.

The Gothic revival building, which opened in 1881, was designed by Charles Clinton, and consists of a five-story front section along the avenue and, behind it, a cavernous 55,000-square-foot enclosed area, known as the Wade Thompson Drill Hall.

As so often in New York City in recent years, what originally served a serious function, will be reborn as cultural venue. The drill hall has become a center for exhibiting visual art projects and live performances, that could not fit in many other spaces around the city. The space has also served as the venue for the Royal Shakespeare Company and for Merce Cunningham's dance company. It has also been the preferred context for various high-profile art and antiques fairs.
It was announced this week that the Swiss firm of Herzog & de Meuron would touch up the entire space, including not only the drill hall period rooms -- designed by the likes of Louis Tiffany and Stanford White -- that grace the front of the building. This firm is most famous for its creation from scratch of Ian Schrager's 40 Bond Street.

The renovation will occur over the next two years, and include new performance and rehearsal spaces.

By Peter Coyne