Signature Center
by Frank Gehry


Slideshow: architect Frank Gehry has inserted a theatre into the base of tower in New York City (photographs by James Ewing/OTTO).

Signature Center by Frank Gehry

The new Signature Center, which opened earlier this year, contains three auditoriums, the largest of which seats up to 299 spectators and has the same layout as the theatre company's previous home in the same neighbourhood.

Signature Center by Frank Gehry

Overlapping plywood plates give the walls a textured surface designed to enhance the acoustics of the room.

Signature Center by Frank Gehry

More plywood panels cover surfaces and balconies in the 199-seat theatre, but here they are stained dark brown.

Signature Center by Frank Gehry

The third performance space is a rectangular courtyard theatre and the building also contains two large rehearsal studios.

Signature Center by Frank Gehry

The Signature Center was first established in the 1990s and had initially planned to relocate to a new home on the Ground Zero site, but was forced by budget cuts to choose an alternative location beneath a residential and hotel tower on 42nd Street.

Signature Center by Frank Gehry

At the end of last year Gehry invited some of the world’s leading architects and designers to form a strategic alliance. Read more about it on Dezeen Wire.

Signature Center by Frank Gehry

Other Gehry-designed buildings we've featured on Dezeen include a skyscraper with a rippled facade and an orchestral academy.

Signature Center by Frank Gehry

See all our stories about Frank Gehry »

Signature Center by Frank Gehry

See more stories about theatres »

Signature Center by Frank Gehry

Photography is by James Ewing/OTTO.

Signature Center by Frank Gehry

  • Pygmalion

    looks like the drama's shifted off-stage…

    …and the furnishings seem quite cheap for a 'Signature' Centre. Value-engineered Gehry?

    • Jason

      Signature is the name of the theatre company, not its level of status.

  • Barrett

    Gehry's theater doesn't look anything like the "jewelbox" model that I've seen. This one looks pedestrian and academic at best. And the crooked glass canopy out front is just ugly. What a disappointment. Is NYC incapable of architecture that inspires?

    • >And the crooked glass canopy out front is just ugly.

      And poorly built. You can judge by the photos that the sections are not aligned.

  • Breadcrumbtrail

    Relatively restrained for Gehry and seems like he's moving away from the copy and paste schemes of late. Would be nice to see photographs of an actual performance taking place under stage lighting conditions, then we could judge how intrusive the acoustic elements are.

  • theresidentialsuite

    the angular panels remind me of the main recording studio in metropolis, west london if anyone has seen that?

  • Did an earthquake strike after the opening?

  • stefanalexjoksic

    What a mess. A poor mess.

  • Lisko

    looks like it's still under construction

  • xtiaan

    oh Frank, what happened to you?

    • Chris

      Nothing happened to him, he's always been this awful.

  • H-J

    Plywood is the new titanium…

  • sara

    im so bored with such a predictable gehry.

  • Redfern

    This is pure Frank Gehry – the overall structure, layout etc. is ordinary and conventional, with a few shapes thrown in at the sides to make it look "exciting". Style over substance, and I question whether it is even stylish.

  • Chris

    I've seen other photo's of this. The only passable piece of design is the bar; most likely to lure customers in and get them drunk enough so as the rest of the space doesn't look so god awful.

  • pizzaface

    people can be so moronic sometimes!

    'What a mess. A poor mess.'
    'Did an earthquake strike after the opening?'

    The panel arrangement is due to acoustic treatment which has been carefully studied. This is a science.
    Not everything is just for the 'look'.
    Stop being so superficial and try to understand the facts of the project before criticizing.

    • Redfern

      Pizzaface, it might be science, but it's not art. Architecture should combine both.

      • Exactly. There are ample examples where you manage to combine great acoustics with a harmonious layout.

        There are many materials that help you regulate how the sound should be absorbed in some areas and bounced in others to keep it 'live' and fresh for the audience.

        If I were sitting in one of those chairs waiting for a concert, I would pray for the lights to went out quickly, for fear of one of those panels striking me in the head.

    • Marco

      Designing a theatre is giving form to accoustics. In this case giving very messy form to accoustics.

  • Juha

    I think the space is great! Shields`n all.

    Obvious Gehry.

  • Michael

    I saw a play here. I thought the theatre inside was beautiful. As usual in NYC, the seating is too cramped I'm 6-3 and I was so uncomfortable, I wasn't sure what would bring me back. The lobby area is cavernous and such wasted space, especially considering how cramped the seating inside. Odd entry. It's quite a walk from the street entrance to the actual theatre, snaking through the ridiculous lobby. Poor design.

  • raza khan

    Pathetic!!! There are so many better and more innovative and creative practices out there, why give such a project to Gehry when he has been producing horrible work since the past few years.

    Is the “name” more important than the “product” itself?

    Anyway very disappointing project by Mr Frank Gehry.

  • Fizz Fieldgrass

    As with any flat pack furniture, flat pack balconies are a bugger to assemble, especially when the instructions have been interpreted from Chinese or Swedish. I also think they weren't supplied with a sufficient quantity of whatever 'Item 8 screw fitting' was….