New York City and Frank Gehry’s mutual love affair continues to evolve at a dynamic pace. With this month's opening of Signature Theatre’s new Gehry-designed Pershing Square Signature Center in midtown Manhattan, Gehry adds another piece to his rapidly expanding Empire State catalog. His first residential project 8 Spruce Street, a 76-story skyscraper glazed with his signature curvaceous indents crawling up the stainless steel façade, made a dramatic debut on the downtown skyline in 2011. He’s also been tapped for the forthcoming preforming arts center at the new World Trade Center. And then there’s his iconic cloudy white, cold-warped glass IAC HQ building that hugs the West Side Highway in Chelsea. Sticking to his recent ambition for firsts, the unveiling of the $66-million Signature Center marks Gehry’s initial contribution to the city’s cultural landscape.
Under the stewardship of Artistic Director James Houghton, Signature has become one of the leading non-profit, off Broadway theater companies in the country; known for its in-depth examinations into a playwright’s life work with year-long explorations inside new projects and re-stagings of classic masterpieces. The new 70,000-square-foot, block-wide structure that extends the theater district west on 42nd street to Tenth Avenue provides an ideal setting with three unique theater spaces, a studio theater, and rehearsal studio. Upon entrance, a grand plywood staircase draws audiences up to a sprawling 6,400 square-foot public space housing a café, bookstore, and three human-sized interactive touch screens that allow visitors to snap photos, delve into Signature’s history, and research more about the playwrights-in-residence.
The inaugural season boasts seven performances including the distinguished Jane Alexander starring in Edward Albee’s The Lady from Dubuque, which opened curtains last week. Thanks to a last-minute $25-million donation by hedge fund manager William Ackman, tickets to all shows will run $25 for the next two decades.
For a full list of Signature Center’s scheduled programing, click here.
Nate Storey is a Research Assistant at Travel + Leisure