Radio City Music Hall is the largest proscenium stage in the world. The restoration work included the three-story Ezra Winter, "The Fountain of Youth" mural overlooking the Grand Foyer, the decorative carpet, red brocatelle wall coverings, Dutch metal ceilings, lighting, all public areas, marquee, lounges, architectural and decorative lighting, chandeliers, and the Art Deco Lobby.
Barr & Barr faced several challenges when it was hired to manage the renovations program. The new owner, Cablevision wanted to transform Radio City into a major broadcast center for awards programs and individual (non-ensemble) performances while restoring, in authentic detail, the interior features to make the hall look exactly as it did when it opened in 1932. Barr & Barr was given only seven months to complete work that would normally have taken more than one year because the hall had to be ready for Radio City’s biggest production - the annual Christmas Spectacular that runs from November through January. In addition, all construction work had to be performed in accordance with historical preservation guidelines and specifications.
The main challenge for this project was the upgrade and modernization of all infrastructure systems and the installation of state-of-the-art camera feeds and cabling system for the auditorium. Updating a circa 1932 electrical infrastructure and installing post-millennial technologies was no easy feat. Barr & Barr managed the work of nine electrical subcontractors who collectively upgraded the electrical infrastructure to bring in an additional 5000 amps of service, expanded the emergency power capacity from 50 KW’s to 800 KW’s, installed a state-of-the-art HDTV broadcasting system, replaced the existing dimming system with a state-of-the-art computerized lighting/dimming system, replaced the existing sound system with an upgraded and modern sound system and installed a telephone and data system. In addition, Barr & Barr also managed complex acoustical work which involved literally tilting the third mezzanine wall and all of its seats forward to prevent sound from reverberating and producing echoes. The walls throughout the hall were also reconfigured for acoustical purposes with semi-rigid acoustical panels covered by a new fabric track wall covering system.
Historic facades and finishes also needed restoration. Thousands of light fixtures required either repair or replacement and a significant amount of metal and stone work was refurbished. Due to the hall’s landmark status, many interior architectural features needed replacement using replicated materials – e.g., broken light fixtures were re-created in their exact original design. Even the wallpaper and carpeting were re-created in their original design and color scheme.
Along the way, Barr & Barr uncovered numerous unforeseen conditions. To keep to the fast-track schedule, Barr & Barr worked six 22-hour days a week, completing all aspects of the project in various shifts. In the end, 20 consulting teams, 120 contractors, vendors and suppliers and nearly 1,000 trades people contributed to the restoration of one of the world’s most beloved performance halls.