Irish Repertory Theatre Begins Renovation of Chelsea Facility
Designed by Garrison Architects of New York, the renovation will transform the Off-Broadway theater, located in the Stanwick Building (132 West 22nd Street), dramatically improving audience seating configuration and sightlines by removing portions of the floor above the main theatre space and creating a new balcony that will provide unobstructed view of the actors and allow for the widening of the stage. The resulting two-story space will improve the spatial quality and acoustics of the main theater to reinforce the high caliber of the Irish Rep's award-winning performances, while at the same time maintaining the intimate experience that is its signature. In addition, a new second-floor rehearsal studio will be located on the street-facing side of the building, enabling the theater to reveal the creative process to passers-by.
Improvements to the Irish Rep's performance and back-of-house spaces include: an increase in seating from 137 to 150; the addition of a 40-seat balcony to replace the current side-of-stage seating; added amenities, such additional audience restrooms, an infrared audio system for the hearing impaired, and wheelchair-accessible seating; more flexible seating, including a row of removable chairs, to accommodate larger sets or live performances; the installation of energy-efficient lighting; a new rehearsal space for the development of productions; and an overhaul of mechanical systems, drastically increasing their efficiency.
The renovation project is slated for completion in 2016 and is on schedule to achieve LEED Silver Certification.
Funding for the project has been provided by the City of New York through the Department of Cultural Affairs, Office of the Manhattan Borough President, and City Council; the Irish Rep's Board of Trustees; and other private donations. The project is being managed by the NYC Department of Design and Construction.
More than $10 million, or 80 percent, of the Irish Rep's total $13 million Capital Campaign goal has been reached. In addition to renovation expenses, the funds will cover other capital expenses incurred during the theater's temporary relocation and will help create a secure foundation of operating support upon the company's return to its permanent home on West 22nd Street.
The Irish Rep will temporarily present its 2014-15 Season at the nearby 99-seat DR2 Theatre at 101 East 15th Street, which has been reserved for the company's exclusive use during the full length of the renovation. The new season will be announced at a later date.
"We are so pleased that throughout the renovation project, we can continue to stage our year-round program and be completely accessible to the audiences who are so important to us," said Artistic Director Charlotte Moore. "Our number one goal is to keep on doing what we do, only better."
"The renovation of our theater will increase the Irish Rep's visibility, drawing in new audiences and allowing us to play a more prominent role in the cultural vitality of Chelsea and the City of New York," said Producing Director Ciarán O'Reilly. "We are grateful to the City of New York, to our Board and to all of our funders for their support."
"New York's theater community is among the most vibrant and diverse in the world thanks to groups like the Irish Repertory Theatre, which has produced an amazing breadth of classic and contemporary Irish-American plays at its Chelsea home over the last nearly twenty years," said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. "My agency is proud join the Department of Design and Construction to support this renovation project to improve the experience and accessibility for the Rep's diverse audiences - whether they are longtime members or students using a subsidized ticket to see their first play."
"In partnership with our colleagues at the Department of Cultural Affairs, we are pleased to announce that a major renovation of the Irish Repertory Theatre will begin later this summer. The renovated theatre will be environmentally-sustainable, with efficient building systems, and is expected to achieve a LEED Silver rating. We look forward to working with the Irish Rep, Garrison Architects, and our contractors to give this vital cultural institution an updated, modern home," said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora.
"The Irish Repertory Theatre is a gem within a close-knit package, so rearranging the components that make up the theater was an incredibly intricate dance that required a deep understanding of how the theater company works," said architect James Garrison. "With one clear gesture, of carving through the ceiling and inserting balcony seating, we have combined functions without sacrificing the special intimacy the Irish Rep is known for."