Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) is a nexus of business activity in the world of live theater.
As the labor union that represents more than 49,000 actors and stage managers in the United States , it is a central and important organization with a long history of protecting actors’ rights going back to 1913.
The New York City location in Times Square, the heart of the Broadway Theater District, is AEA’s national headquarters and the Eastern regional audition center; the other regional audition centers are located in Los Angeles and Chicago.
Located in 1560 Broadway for the past 30 years, AEA was a key partner in a major building reconfiguration that required AEA to relocate to new space on the 16th and 17th floors of the building.
Together with Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, AEA tapped Kostow Greenwood Architects, known for their expertise in studio and theater design, to oversee the design and construction of the project. Kostow Greenwood Architects worked extensively with the AEA staff to re-evaluate their needs and create a new facility that would reshape their identity and serve the organization well into the future.
Denham Wolf Real Estate was brought in to manage the process and represent the owner for this project.
The office of James Ruderman, structural engineers, was central to the work of raising the roof and in resolving discrepancies between the original 1913 drawings and the existing conditions.
The work was executed in three consecutive phases over the course of a year in order to accommodate AEA’s ongoing operations. Phase 1 facilitated the initial move out of their existing space. Phase 2 renovated 15,000 s/f on the western side of the 16th, 17th and Penthouse floors, to create new executive offices and conference facilities for the organization.
Phase 3, on the eastern side of the 16th floor, houses the two large audition studios, dressing and makeup rooms, waiting areas and a warm-up space for dancers.
The floors are connected by an internal stair to increase accessibility for everyone.
The studio spaces are now in constant use by directors, choreographers, actors, dancers, singers and other performers and have been optimized for sound isolation and acoustic performance.
Each studio is fitted with a sprung dance floor to create an ideal surface for each performer to be evaluated. Non-members are also permitted to audition at AEA, which is an ADA compliant facility.
One of the more challenging aspects of the project was literally raising the roof six feet to bring the studio ceiling heights to twelve feet, yielding a finish ceiling 2 feet higher than their previous space; Kostow Greenwood’s plan required that the contractors schedule an all night crane setup for steel delivery, in the middle of Times Square, up to the 17th floor deck.
ACC Construction was selected to be the General Contractor and the aggressive schedule required them to work double shifts to execute the work within the required timeframe.
Michele Medaglia, president and CEO of ACC Construction, commented, “We are proud of the extensive amount of work we were able to complete in such a highly compressed schedule. The enormous amount of talent, resources and sheer tenacity put forth by our project team is what delivered this outstanding project.”
Michael Kostow, principal-in-charge of the project,called it a “rewarding assignment.”