New York University announced today that it would not demolish the Provincetown Playhouse, but build above it, preserving the theater’s original structural walls, footprint and volume, following a mini-public backlash.
University spokeswoman Alicia Hurley said “demolishing the theater was never a proposal,” just “bad information in the atmosphere.
“We never articulated what our plans were for the Playhouse,” she said. “We only articulated plans to preserve the façade of the entryway to the theater. Our proposal now is to preserve the structural walls because it’s clear that that is what is needed to maintain the integrity and cultural heritage of site. But the theater needs an upgrade to take it into the future.”
The executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Andrew Berman, called a commitment from NYU not to demolish the Playhouse “a rare step forward.”
“If their plan is to keep the four walls of the theater in place and not to move it, we think this is a move in the right direction,” he said over the phone. “However we believe preserving the building in its entirety is important, so we’ll continue to push for that.”
Rumors that NYU plans to construct a new building cantilevered over and around the theater are “incorrect and not feasible from an engineering perspective,” said Ms. Hurley.
The odds of NYU preserving the entire building at 133-139 MacDougal Street are also slim, she said. “That’s certainly not our plan,” she said. “A number of people think our plan to create a new building is a good one.”