Founded two hundred years ago, the New-York Historical Society was conceived as a private club for antiquarians. That culture was subsequently embedded in the design of its building on Central Park West, a structure that impeded previous efforts to make the institution more welcoming and accessible to the general public.
As architects for the Society since 2005, PBDW completed a $60,000,000 campaign of interior and exterior renovations to revitalize the image, appearance, accessibility, and principal spaces throughout the museum. The redesign was led by a dynamic new administration at the Society, guided by a new Strategic Plan. The project was completed in 2011.
A master plan was developed early in the process. The resulting design made the building more visible, more inviting, and more accessible by reconfiguring the entrances on Central Park West and 77th Street and adding doors, ramps, and inviting front steps, as well as enlarged windows, new signage, and exterior lighting.
The ground floor, formerly a warren of small spaces, was transformed into a single vast gallery featuring the highlights of the collection. Other galleries and the museum store were upgraded in a similar fashion with new finishes, lighting, and climate control.
Halfway through construction the Society asked us to renovate their neoclassical auditorium into a space that would support a variety of media productions and live performances. We completely reconfigured the layout and added a balcony, with excellent sight lines from every seat. New finishes, new lighting, and an 80-foot wide projection screen make the auditorium the setting for a dazzling introductory video and the centerpiece of a robust slate of public programs.
Most recently, PBDW completed the renovation of the fourth floor galleries, a 10,000 SF project that was completed in spring of 2017.