David H. Koch Theater

New York, NY

The David H. Koch Theater (formerly the New York State Theater) was built in 1964. Designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson, the theater is one of the anchors of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The vast swaths of travertine and glass are offset by a wide program of decorative metals, including architectural bronze window mullions, light fixtures, playbill cases, doors and door frames. The signature feature is a multi-story series of railings and decorative inset panels which encircle the atrium.

From 2008-2009 the theater has undergone a major renovation and restoration. We were contracted in 2009 to perform a finishes investigation, prepare on-site mock-ups, and write specifications for the restoration of significant decorative metals. The goal was to identify the range of metals and finishes, historic and current, and to demonstrate different levels of treatment.

The decorative metals exhibited wear and deterioration commensurate with decades of use. Surfaces were generally soiled and had become abraded from use in predicable areas, removing finishes and revealing bright metal. Protective coatings were beginning to degrade and finishes had become marred by scratches and adhesive residue. We identified the panels as being fabricated from ferrous wire, brazed with brass to create the complex “splatter pattern” design, and lacquered. The accompanying stanchions, railings, fascia plates, etc. were fabricated from architectural bronze and treated with a directional oxide finish, which our conservators were able to replicate. Treatment recommendations were tailored to reflect varying cost, scheduling, and aesthetic preferences.