An unusual project for us this year was to replace a custom lift we had installed in 1997 with a new and improved design in 2015. We were honored to work again with the same general contractor and the same architectural metal and glass fabricator almost 20 years later.
The Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater opened to the public on November 10, 1967. Located in the lower level of the Vivian Beaumont Theater building, this space was originally called the Forum during the residency of the now-defunct Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center.
In 1973, the theater was renamed for Mrs. Newhouse, a prominent New York philanthropist, when Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival took over the management of the Vivian Beaumont Theater building. The Festival left Lincoln Center in 1978, and in the seven years that followed, the Newhouse was mostly rented to outside producers or was not used at all. A new resident company was formed in 1979, but it only presented two short runs at the Newhouse in 1981.
In 1985, the theater’s current management — Lincoln Center Theater — was established. Former New York Mayor John V. Lindsay assembled a new board of directors and signed Gregory Mosher as Director and Bernard Gersten as Executive Producer. In 1991, Linda LeRoy Janklow and Andre Bishop succeeded Messrs Lindsay and Mosher as Chairman and Artistic Director. Lincoln Center Theater has not only outlasted all the prior managements combined, but it has become America’s largest not-for-profit theater, producing a year-round program of plays and musicals at the Beaumont, the Newhouse and at various other theaters around New York City.
The original lift drive system was a heavy duty vertical platform lift by National Wheel-O-Vator with a custom bronze and glass enclosure on the platform by Paxton Metalcraft. The lift pulled a rolling skirt, made by Enterprise Elevator Products, up out of the shallow pit to protect the underside of the lift when the lift was in the upper landing position. The advantage aesthetically was when the lift was in the lower landing no full height lower landing door was needed and the wrought iron railing on the stair leading up to the box office was not be obstructed. The upper gate was integrated into the railing to complete the look.
You can read more about the original project here.
When the old lift failed and we were charged with replacing it we wanted to improve on the serviceability of the lift while maintaining the aesthetic goals of the original project.
We were able to save and restore the upper gate but instead of the complex rolling skirt and platform gate concept we substituted a full height bronze and glass door with a glass transom overhead. We supported that transom with a bronze latch post and patch hardware on the side enclosure wall. We added a new wall of bronze and glass between the lift and the stair. This completed the full height enclosure to 42” above the upper landing required by code.
This simplified the design considerably eliminating a platform gate on a moving platform and a complex skirt.
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