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New York State Theater No. 12 - Lobby & Stairs

“Performances commence when audiences first enter the houses which frame them..."

"...large theaters are more than shelter. Intermissions which link units of repertory are happy times for appreciation, disagreement, sharing of what has just been seen and heard. The foyer of the State Theater offers incomparable space as a grand parlor for a family audience in a town which is also the capitol of its national culture. The lack of cosmetic adornment was a conscious element of design. Multiple balconies and walkways are, in the words of its architect, always “papered by people,” a human mural which is in immediate and delightful contrast to the ordered sights and sounds within the auditorium itself.” [1]

Photo by Lauryn Johnson

“Solid, generously moulded balustrades frame twin banks of ceremonial stairs which are, in themselves, abstract sculpture in nougat- or honey-colored stone. Stereonomy, the analysis, cutting and laying of hand-carved stone is now all but a lost art; here, it makes one heroic last stand. A pervading visual chord is struck at once: stone, bronze, gold; cream, maroon, gold. The curvature of the stair-wells, doubling back, rising on themselves, can only be appreciated in full from the upper walkways.” [2]

“Lincoln Center’s democratic theater has been designed by an architectural aristocrat. He has given the public cake. Audiences will move from ground level entrance to sweeping stairs to Promenade to auditorium and back through a subtle an splendid manipulation of spaces, through marble, travertine, garnet and gold decor for a series of eye-filling ceremonial pleasures.” [3]

[1] Lincoln Kirstein in 1975 Souvenir Program

[2] Lincoln Kirstein in 1964-65 Souvenir Program

[3] Ada Louise Huxtable, New York Times, March 23, 1964


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