Fifty years ago, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Law was enacted to ensure that important buildings survived the whims, greed or cultural indifference of developers and city officials. Among the 31,000 properties designated as landmarks, only 117 are interiors, like City Hall, left, and the New Amsterdam Theater, right. This small fraction gets special treatment in “Rescued, Restored, Reimagined: New York’s Landmark Interiors,” a show opening on Friday at the New York School of Interior Design.
Why so few? “It’s all about the complexity of use,” said Hugh Hardy, an architect and one of the show’s curators. When Scribner’s Beaux-Arts bookstore turns into a Benetton (it’s now a Sephora), or a bank becomes a catering hall, design changes must be made inside to serve the needs of the current establishment. Outside, all that’s required is a new sign. Radio City Music Hall’s interiors are a landmark, he added, “because Radio City is still used the same way it was in 1932.”
The exhibition, for which admission is free, runs through April 24; nysid.edu.