Just Off Fifth: The Tishman Auditorium

One of only 3 buildings in New York City designed by the masterful artist and (aptly named) architect Joseph Urban, the 1930 Tishman Auditorium of New School University is a striking presence on a street dominated by older rowhouses. 

Urban’s work encompassed Viennese Secessionist, Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles, which he used on the now-demolished Ziegfeld Theater and the original building for the Hearst publishing empire (now dominated by a vast tower by Norman Foster that rises from Urban’s structure).  For the New School, however, he broke dramatically with all reference to past forms and created a banded box of black and white brick accented with dramatic, brightly painted interiors. 

A mediocre 1950s addition spoils some of the inherent drama of the building’s contrast with the handsome brownstones that line this side of West 12th Street, but the overall effect is still thrillingly glamorous and the putty-colored auditorium itself is one of the city’s greatest Modern spaces.  Information on the Tishman Auditorium’s programming can be found here.

The auditorium’s unique ceiling was restored in 1992 by Rolf Ohlhausen; the building’s design influenced the architecture of the New School’s recently completed University Center at 63 Fifth Avenue.

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