How do you raise a historic vaudeville theater 30 feet in the air in downtown New York?
Answer: very slowly.
L&L Holding has undertaken the complex effort to upgrade the Palace Theater as part of the construction of its $2.5 billion TSX Broadway hotel and retail tower, at the corner of 47th Street and Broadway in Times Square. It hired Urban Foundation Engineering to help design a system to lift the theater, which weighs 14 million pounds, and will be encased in the commercial building’s glass exterior.
When completed in early 2023, the 46-story, 550,000-square-foot TSX Broadway will include 600 switches, 100,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space, and 51,000 square feet of building signage. The facade will be covered with panels with LED lights, which means that the entire building can function as a screen or an advertisement.
Lifting the historic theater to its new home on the third floor of TSX Broadway took months, beginning in January 2022 and ending in early May. Thirty-four hydraulic lift shafts, fitted with winches, pushed an annular girder around the perimeter of the theater box. The cranes were raising the stage at six inches per hour for about 17 days. The lift happened intermittently and starts over the course of a few months because contractors and engineers frequently stop to stabilize the building and troubleshoot any structural issues. Now that the lift is complete, the construction team can begin installing permanent structural trusses.
“What we’re doing now is we’re installing the column extensions from the first floor through the third floor, and then the second floor structure,” L&L’s Domenick DeNizo said during a project tour.. “At this point we can transfer the load from the booms, which are currently still in operation, to the permanent structure.”
The 1,650-seat Old Palace Theater will also receive a $50 million renovation, including renovating the distinctive interior and updating and expanding the lobby, reception area, and backstage. The new lobby will contain a bar and box office, and the building will have a new entrance with a new marquee.
Other updates include 1,657 new seats, more restrooms, state-of-the-art audio-visual and mechanical systems for performances, and state-of-the-art sound insulation. The historic restoration will include renovating the ornate stucco molding of the main theater and reinstalling the building’s large chandelier in its original location. The work will raise the theater from 40,000 square feet to 80,000 square feet.
Rebecca Baird-Remba can be reached at [email protected]