Volume 80, Number 10 | August 5 - 11, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Photos by Lincoln Anderson

N.Y.U. School of Law’s new building on MacDougal St. will be known as Wilf Hall. It incorporates the exterior facade of the Provincetown Playhouse and preserves part of the old theater’s interior space.

N.Y.U.’s verdict on Law building: ‘Very successful’

By Lincoln Anderson

The wraps recently came off the new New York University Law School building on MacDougal St. The first-floor exterior facade of the Provincetown Playhouse has been preserved and worked into the new building’s facade, and most of the walls of the former theater have also been preserved. But the rest of the historic building was demolished for the project.

“We think this is a very successful project,” stated Alicia Hurley, N.Y.U. vice president of government affairs and community engagement. “It preserved a working theater of historic reputation, it produced a contextual building, it was overwhelmingly approved by the community board, it demonstrated the university’s willingness to leave F.A.R. [floor area ratio — basically, buildable square footage] on the table in the right circumstances, and it accomplished all this while meeting the Law School’s important academic needs.”

The facility is slated to officially open in October, serving a dozen of N.Y.U. School of Law’s centers, institutes and programs. 

“The faculty, students and scholars who have already begun occupying this new space are busy producing research that shapes the real world of law, policy and business,” Hurley said. “These innovative and enterprising centers have become a signature feature of the Law School’s academic community, and their growth in size and number compelled N.Y.U. Law to expand its physical plant.”

According to Hurley, the theater will be fully functioning all semester, but the university is planning the grand reopening of the Provincetown Playhouse in December.

The building will be known as Wilf Hall, after Law School trustees and alumni Leonard Wilf and Mark Wilf, the president and the chief financial officer, respectively, of Garden Homes — a national home construction business — who underwrote the project’s cost. In addition to the cousins’ gift, the Wilf family has endowed the Wilf Family Professorship of Property Law, established in 2002. Leonard, Mark and Mark’s brother Zygi Wilf are also co-owners of the Minnesota Vikings football team.

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation led the fight to try to save the entire Provincetown Playhouse and Apartments complex from demolition. Not surprisingly, Andrew Berman, the society’s executive director, had nothing good to say about the project.

“The old building never really should have been torn down,” he said. “It was determined eligible for the state and national register of historic places — and Wilf Hall will never replace it.”

In addition, Berman said, “It just was very sad that the promise to maintain the four interior walls of the old theater was not kept by the university.”

He noted that “a very sizeable chunk” of the theater’s north wall was removed. But N.Y.U. says this section of wall was built of unstable material and had to be removed for structural reasons.

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