Saturday, March 25, 2017

REMEMBRANCE: Hugh Hardy, ebullient architect whose designs epitomized NY pizazz

Chandelier at NYC's Rainbow Room!
a Hugh Hardy design

The world of architecture lost a blithe spirit when Hugh Hardy, primarily known and admired for his fanciful theater designs, passed away on March 23 in Manhattan. Among his many notable creations were the Majestic Theater in downtown Brooklyn, the "gingerbread" information kiosk in Central Park, and the iconic Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center.
as well as ...

 His renovated auditorium at Radio City Music Hall.
Photo credit Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Above: Paramount Theatre, Oakland, CA 
Photo by BWChicago

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 Windows on the World dining room, on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower, before that terrible day. Designed by Hardy, it was a favorite place for my family, as well as many others, to celebrate special occasions. 

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 Above: New Victory Theater, 42nd St., New York, NY
The venue was built in 1900 by Oscar Hammerstein, 
grandfather of the famous lyricist. It has been renovated and
its mission successfully reimagined numerous times.

"The New Victory is an exquisite jewel on a street of gems" – 
the NY Times 

 The Rainbow Room, Rockefeller Center, NY, NY

Gustavino's Food Emporium under the Queensboro Bridge

The luminous Claire Tow Theater sits atop the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center, on which Mr. Hardy had worked in the early 1960s. He had served as mediator between Mielziner, the stage designer for the Beaumont, 
and Eero Saarinen, its architect. The theater functions as a showcase 
for works by new playwrights, directors and designers. 

I am tempted to say what it all comes down to is that for Hugh, all architecture was theater,” said Paul Goldberger, noted architecture writer and critic. ... "I don’t think any architect has better embodied the spirit of New York, not only through his work but also through everything he thought and wrote and did. Every one of us has lived more intensely in New York because of Hugh, understood the city better because of him, and loved the city more because of him.”
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Hugh Hardy, 1932 - 2017

Hardy was born in Majorca, Spain, after his eccentric father left
a lucrative job at an advertising agency in NY and
decided to move temporarily to Europe to write a novel. 
He attended Princeton University where he earned a a master of fine arts 
degree in 1956, and later served in the Army Corps of Engineers  
as a drafting instructor. 

In 1965, Hardy married free-spirited architect Tiziana Spadea. Among other things,
Spadea designed patterns for high-style ladies' coats and separates.

"They were the Nick and Nora Charles of a certain New York set, a group of people who are involved in helping to ensure a future for New York as rich in magic as its nostalgia-tinged past,” Julie Iovine wrote in 1997 in the NY Times.


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