1535 BroadwayNew York, NY
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Curator, Museum of the City of New York
Jimmy Nederlander Sr.
Chairman, Nederlander Organization
Executive Vice President, Nederlander Organization
The Marquis Theater, part of the New York Marriott Marquis hotel, opened in 1986 to great acclaim but its route to success was quite controversial.
In 1973, developer and architect John Calvin Portman announced plans to built a 2,000-room hotel with a 1,600-seat theater in the heart of Times Square. At the time, New York was suffering economically and the Times Square area was considered dangerous. A theater inside a hotel would provide patrons with a safe environment shielded from the mean streets of the city. But three historic operational theaters—the Helen Hayes, the Morosco, and the Bijou—and two additional theaters—the Astor and the Gaiety—would be destroyed to clear the site. Protesters including Christopher Reeve, Susan Sarandon, Joe Papp, and Celeste Holm tried to stop the destruction, even forcing a Supreme Court challenge, but it was too late; "The Great Theater Massacre of 1982" proceeded. This resulted in landmark protection for most of the remaining early twentieth-century Broadway theaters. One of the newer theaters on Broadway, the Marquis has many sophisticated sound, acoustics, and lighting innovations. Leased by the Nederlander Organization, it opened with the production Me and My Girl.
John Calvin Portman was born in Atlanta and attended the US Naval Academy and the Georgia Institute of Technology.
He opened his own architectural firm, John Portman & Associates, in 1953 in Atlanta. Portman pioneered and popularized large, open-atrium hotels and offices. He is interested in urban development as well as architecture. While his designs are known for revitalizing downtrodden urban areas, they were sometimes criticized for creating insular built environments within those urban areas. Some of his best-known works include the Peachtree Center and the SunTrust Plaza Garden Offices in Atlanta, the Shanghai Center in China, and the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco. Portman is also a painter, sculptor, and furniture designer whose work has been exhibited at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
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