After being rediscovered for Peter Brook’s Mahabharata, BAM remodeled the Harvey Theater in 1986, creating an inner lobby and reducing much of the orchestra seating by raising the stage level almost five feet and joining the leading edge of the mezzanine level to a new semicircular thrust extending out toward the audience from the proscenium. The result was the intimate and familiar space we enjoy today. The 1986 retrofit recast the space, halting much of its deterioration and recreating the rest in the likeness of the Bouffes du Nord in Paris.
Fast forward to 2011 when BAM began to rethink and redesign the space with Mitchell Giurgola Architects. In order to resolve the tricky curves and cramped conditions, we had to prioritize the challenges of the theater. The gallery level with its pedestal seats and vertiginous vantages was a tough nut to crack, particularly given the constraints of budget and schedule, so it was set aside for the time being (but stay tuned; this stage of the Harvey makeover is in development!). The orchestra seating, technical boxes, and stage became the focus.
|New seats ready to be unwrapped. Photo: Carl Gillen|
Once patrons leave the lobby and enter the house, their every step will be on a new-built surface. The cross aisle is wider, accommodating more persons with physical disabilities. To restore the space’s cinematic tradition dating from the 1930s, the retractable Steinberg Screen was installed below the stage and a new projection booth added at the back of the house. New walls and features were treated by skilled scenic artists to preserve the Harvey’s character.
The Harvey, at its heart, is a time machine to the present, and your journey to the now should be more comfortable.
—Carl Gillen (excerpt from an article in November's BAMbill)