Council officials need to address a number of issues, not the least of which is the aging and declining sight line. The original vision for Hovland Center was to become a world-class performing arts center that could be easily reached by residents and visitors alike. Currently however, the centre has no dedicated performance space, making it impossible for many people to attend performances due to long public transportation access distances. A healthy mix of shows would make this an ideal location for a downtown council residential auditorium.
Windowless building with no stage
As the name suggests, Hovland Center is a large and open-air theater situated at 1015 Broadway. The theater has had a long history dating back to 1915, when the owners of a nearby grocery store, the Broadway Theater, bought the building and renamed it after themselves. They turned the restaurant on Broadway into a thriving street-food mecca, and in 1923, the owners of the Broadway Theater/Theater Company of New York City, Inc. (now called Broadway Entertainment) purchased the rights to produce plays at the theater. Broadway Theater/Theater Company of New York now includes the Broadway Theatre, which is featured in the Broadway Museum at Long Island City. Broadway Theater was the first of two Broadway theaters that operated in New York City, the other being the famed Broadwayside.
Distinctive architectural style
The two-story, 37,000-square-foot theater has an industrial design with a mix of exposed wooden beams, redwood planks and steel bars. The exposed beams are used to increase the overall lightness of the building, while the exposed redwood panels are meant to contrast with the darker sturdier wooden framing. The architecture is deliberately beautiful, with bright colors and gorgeous patterns, without being over-the-top or showy. The large, open floor plan is accentuated by the large windows, providing enough light for the actors to lighten up without opacity. Most striking aspect of the design is the large, exposed brick fireplace with its hand-painted design.
Poor sight line
The sight line to the stage is the same as any other residential building: You can see the outline of the building but not the details. That being said, the construction of the center has seen significant improvements over the years, and now the line of sight is excellent. For example, the sidewalk is painted blue, the street is painted red, and the parts of the building that are in the shadow of other buildings are painted black. This effect is maintained even when the sun is facing another way, which is why the center is in shadow during the day.
Big party venue for large numbers
The Broadway Theatre has seen strong growth with the growth of the nearby Broadway-to-Wall kill zone, which has necessitated upgrading the property. The Broadway Theatre has served as the site for large live events like the Grammys, Super Bowl 51, and the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, and is also the center of the Broadway Dance Company. The Broadway Theatre has also become known for its large parties, often with DJs, influencers, and other entertainment at the center.
Owing to its exposed seismic support
The first thing to note about the building is its exposed seismic support. The foundations of the building are a mixture of concrete and stone, which is why the foundation is a long way from shear. The exposed seismic support also results in a low ceilings, which are not ideal for performing arts spaces. It’s also why there is no stage in the building. The ceiling on the first floor is only a few inches above the average residential level, while the ceiling on the second floor is only a few feet above the median.
Consider taking out a loan and investing in your centre’s future
A strong financial future is essential to any significant artistic project. Ideally, the artist would like to invest in the construction of a permanent stage, and a building with a stage and lounge would be ideal. But as noted above, there isn’t currently a stage or lounge on the Broadway Theatre, so the building is not required for that.
Final words: Does Hovland Center have what it takes?
The first thing to note is that Hovland Center has seen tremendous growth over time and is standing strong as a top-notch performing arts center. The building itself is charming and historic, with a great mix of architectural styles. The building also has excellent eye-level access to the Broadway and City Hall and is situated in an excellent location. With the right investor and plan, it could become a top-notch entertainment destination. The fact that it isn’t there yet though, is an issue worth fighting for the residents of Hovland Center.