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 their 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 million campaign of interior and exterior renovations to change the image, appearance, accessibility, and principal spaces throughout the museum. The redesign was led by a dynamic new administration and reopened on 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 handsome front steps, as well as enlarged windows, new signage, and exterior lighting.
The ground floor, formerly a warren of spaces, has been transformed into a single gallery featuring the highlights of the collection. We upgraded other galleries and the museum store in a similar fashion with new walls and ceilings, 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’ wide screen make the auditorium the setting for a dazzling introductory video and the centerpiece of a robust slate of public programs.