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Irish Repertory Theatre Undergoes Renovations in Chelsea

The New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) is improving audience experience at the 8,240 square-foot Irish Repertory Theatre at 132 West 22nd Street in Chelsea through a $6 million renovation being funded by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA).

The renovation to the theater, which has existed at its location in Chelsea for the past 21 years, nearly doubled the height of the performance area to 27 feet from ground level. The renovation also added 250-square-feet of total space and widened the stage, backstage and storage areas.

"In support of Mayor de Blasio's vision for a more equitable city, we are proud of our work inside the Irish Repertory Theater, which provides more New Yorkers with the opportunity to see live professional performances," said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora.

The new space has allowed for the theater to increase crowd capacity by 10 seats. Additionally, the theater's old side seating section was moved to a new 40-seat balcony that provides the audience with an unobstructed view of the stage. The maximum capacity of the venue can now seat 148 theater-goers. A gallery space, two offices, and new bathrooms were also installed in the second floor of the theater.

"The Irish Repertory Theatre is extremely grateful to the folks at DDC and DCLA who continue to go the extra mile to ensure we fulfill our vision in a timely way," said Ciaran O'Reilly, Producing Director. "It is their legacy to the people of this city as well as ours."

New catwalks were installed for improved stage lighting. Overall light capacity was increased by 60 percent. An improved audio/visual room was built for easier operations in production management, which includes the control of newly installed automated turntable on the stage. The turntable is computer controlled and allows for greater flexibility in scenic settings. Lighting underneath the stairs has been added for increased visibility within the theater. The scope of the project also includes upgrades to all mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

The project is being managed by DDC Senior Construction Project Manager Tawfik Tawfik, a resident of Rosebank in Staten Island. Tawfik, a veteran project manager who began working for the DDC in January 1999, has worked on projects for the DDC's police unit, environmental protection unit, and corrections unit. He has been working in the cultural unit for the past eight years.

"This is the first theater I've ever worked on. It's a project that combines art and engineering and it's something that I think the public will really appreciate," said Tawfik, a graduate of Egypt's Cairo University School of Engineering. "There are some challenges in here that you wouldn't consider at first. For example we had to be conscientious of acoustics in the building. Little things, like the sound of an air conditioning unit, can affect the experience of a performance."

In order to mitigate the noise during performances, the automated A/C units are programmed to accomplish a majority of the cooling prior to performances.

Tawfik, who moved to the United States in 1990, said his roots in engineering developed as a result of growing up with many engineers in his family, including his father.

"It sort of runs in the family," he said.

Tawfik began working as a project manager for the New York State Department of Transportation in 1992. His 24-year-long career as a public engineer also includes stints at the New York City Department of Parks and the City's Department of Buildings.

Work on the renovation began August 20, 2014 and is expected to be finalized by winter 2017. Performances in the new space began on May 17, 2016. The theater has produced eight performances per week since then.

More information about the Irish Repertory Theater and the DDC can be found on their respective websites.

Pictured: View from the newly constructed balcony inside the Irish Repertory Theatre



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