Designed by prolific architect Charles Rentz, Jr., Webster Hall is widely regarded as one of New York City’s most storied and culturally significant assembly halls. OTJ Architects was engaged to lead a program of improvements that would ensure the iconic venue’s continued relevance while preserving the character that has earned it a hallowed place in New York nightlife.
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When fans returned, the experience was that of a homecoming immediately upon entry from three newly added doors. An unobtrusive alteration to the historic façade, however, required the relocation of original terra cotta panels and the modification of the stucco-clad band course. Inside, an elevator that serves both passengers and freight was installed to make each floor accessible to patrons with disabilities and, when combined with the new grade level entrance, facilitate show load-ins.
Still, the most discernible improvements remain those made to the upstairs ballroom. Through the deployment of additional interwoven – or “scissor” – stairwells that accelerate egress, venue capacity was increased to over 1400. Here torn wall coverings, imperfect painting, scalloped balconies, and Art Deco details are seamlessly juxtaposed against state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems true to the original venue’s spirit, yet dialed up to exceed even the most exacting modern-day standards. Lastly, a former “venue within a venue,” now known as The Ritz Lounge, has been reimagined as an urbane common area, complete with an oversized bar. Reclaimed square footage from this space allowed for the creation of two new green rooms that enhance the performer experience and accommodate even the most extravagant artist’s requests.
New York, NY
Arts, Culture & Education
An ambitious program of improvements ensures the continued relevance of this iconic venue while preserving the character that has earned it a hallowed place in New York nightlife.