Landmarks Holds Public Hearing on Rainbow Room [Update: Rainbow Room Designated]

The Rainbow Room. Credit: LPC

This article was originally published on 8/17/2012 (see below for update).

Rockefeller Center-owner Tishman Speyer endorsed designation, but said it would continue with plans to “revitalize” the currently unused nightclub and restaurant space. On September 11, 2012 Landmarks held a public hearing on the potential designation of the Rainbow Room on the 65th Floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza as an interior landmark. The Rainbow Room was designed by Associated Architects and opened in 1934. The iconic nightclub and restaurant space features 24 double-height windows, tiered seating around a dance floor, crystal chandeliers and sconces, and can accommodate 300 people. In 1987, architect Hugh Hardy oversaw the room’s renovation and restoration. The Rainbow Room has been closed to the public since 2009, when Tishman Speyer Properties evicted Cipriani Restaurants from the space. Landmarks calendared the space on August 14, 2012. (See CityLand‘s coverage here.)

At the public hearing, Keith Douglas, managing director of Rockefeller Center, testified that Tishman Speyer was “honored” by Landmarks’ consideration and supported designation. Douglas stated that while the Rainbow Room had been modified and altered over the years, its cultural significance remained. He looked forward to working with Landmarks as Tishman Speyer developed plans “to revitalize and renew the celebrated New York icon.”

The New York Landmarks Conservancy’s Andrea Goldwyn also testified in support, calling the Rainbow Room an “icon of New York’s architectural and social history.” Nadezhda Williams, of the Historic Districts Council, testified that the Rainbow Room was “synonymous with New York City glamour,” and was already a landmark “in the hearts and minds of many throughout the world.” Historic preservation consultant Mary Dierickx testified that during her research while preparing a 2008 request for evaluation for the Rainbow Room, she found a “significant amount of original design and fabric.” Dierickx said this included the 32-foot circular dance floor, tiered terraces with crystal railings, and many of the crystal sconces. She said the Rainbow Room was an integral part of popular American history and deserved protection.

Landmarks Chair Robert B. Tierney closed the hearing without commissioner comments. Tierney did not set a date for a vote on designation.

LPC: The Rainbow Room, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Manhattan (LP-2505) (September 11, 2012).

Update (10/22/2012) – On October 16, 2012, Landmarks unanimously approved designating the Rainbow Room as an interior landmark. Chair Tierney said the space not only contained significant architectural details, but also “generations of memories.” He thanked Tishman Speyer for their stewardship and cooperation throughout the designation process. Commissioner Diana Chapin called it “one of the most marvelous and elegant interior spaces in New York.” Commissioner Michael Goldblum said there was “no question” that the room merited designation, and noted that the language in Landmarks’ designation report should be clear about which of details needed to be protected to preserve the Rainbow Room’s character during any future renovations of the space.

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