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New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.

To kick off our three-part series celebrating the launch of the Jack and Lew Rudin Lobby, we sat down with Vice President of Operations Jessica Baker Vodoor to talk about the exciting features you can expect in our new and improved space!

What spurred this renovation?
 
The New Victory team had a collective dream—to take our previously bland and uninviting lobbies and create a place that audiences would want to come with their families before the show or linger afterwards. We formed a lobby vision committee and we discussed all the things that could be improved. 
 
The new space needed to reflect the vibrancy of the incredible programming that lives on our stage. Our goal was to make it warm, inviting, family friendly, but also sophisticated, smart and tailored to our programming needs. On top of all that, we wanted practical improvements, like better bathrooms, a more functional gift shop area and a more friendly and accessible space for audiences of all abilities. We wanted the public space to be a place that sparked the imagination—a joyous, spirited, bold place to create memories and collective experiences for families. 
 
What aspect of the new lobby are you most excited about?

I think I'm most excited about the Jack and Lew Rudin Lobby (formerly named Lew's Lobby). Prior to our renovation, this space was a big, empty and dark two-room hall, with no place to sit and a dated ADA lift that was undersized and had difficulty accommodating modern wheelchairs. Our fabulous pre- and post-show activities were stuck in what felt like a back room. The room didn't match our needs, programs or personality. Now, the room has been completely transformed!

A Shot of Our New Lobby
 
What were the top three amenities you knew that we needed to include?

First and foremost—we needed contemporary restrooms. Our old bathrooms were built before modern energy codes were updated and, to be frank, they were also cold and colorless. Now, our bathrooms are both colorful and state-of-the-art, with water-saving and auto-flushing sink and toilet fixtures, sanitary hand-drying and faucet facilities and stalls which are sensitive to privacy. We anticipate the new hand-dryers will reduce the number of paper towels our theater throws away each year to less than 10,000—previously we disposed of 250,000 paper towels every season. We know that the hand-dryers may be an adjustment for some families, so it was also important to us that they could be deactivated and replaced with towels for our Autism-Friendly performances. The fixtures allow for this and we're happy with the flexibility they provide us. 

We also desperately needed more places to sit and a new food service area. With the installation of a beautifully designed cafe, plus several group seating areas, some creative undulating benches and flexible furniture pieces in the Jack & Lew Rudin Lobby, we now have a space where families can relax, eat, explore and spend wonderful quality time together. 
 
Finally, we are thrilled about the removal of the old and undersized ADA lift in the Jack & Lew Rudin lobby. It has been replaced with a beautiful new ramp that frames the lobby and makes our public engagement activities easy to reach for patrons of all abilities. 

A Shot of Our New Lobby

What inspired the color scheme throughout the lobby spaces? 

We actually struggled for many months to find the right look and feel for the lobby. It all came together when our architects Ariel Fausto and Nathan Rittgarn suggested the warm, white oak that can be seen throughout, and also the beautiful felt product line called FilzFelt. Paula Scher of Pentagram (who also designed our new logo) saw this material and was inspired to create the work of art that is now gracing our fabulous orchestra entry wall. With the invention of this original artwork, the color scheme of the lobby came to life. Suddenly the palette fell into place and the new lobby colors now create a warm, inviting and sophisticated environment that all New York families will love and feel at home in. 

Can you take us through how you decided on the materials? We're not walking on carpet anymore!
 
Our architects, Ariel and Nathan, guided this process. There were weeks where we were surrounded by colors and textures…this was some of the most fun we had! We focused on the patron experience and identified materials that felt sophisticated but not slick, warm but not cartoony. The floor (it's made from recycled tires!) was selected because it's environmentally-friendly, warm, soft, easy to clean and vibrantly colorful. It was actually a very complicated process, but in the end everything came together beautifully. 

 

Vice President of Operations Jessica Baker Vodoor Vice President of Operations Jessica Baker Vodoor Photo: Alexis Buatti Ramos
What was it like to be in charge of such a large project? Did the project hit any snags?
 
I love managing projects and especially one that is driven by such unified goals. I think our biggest challenge was figuring out how to introduce technology into the space without letting it become the "be-all, end-all" of the space. We have beautiful new screens that support, but do not replace the activities. The focus is all about family experiences. This took us awhile to figure out, but we realized that our education staff knew best about exactly what we need to support our public engagement activities. We didn't need a digital sculpture for the "cool factor"—we needed a set of digital tools that our staff could use to enrich and support the family activities. After looking high and low, speaking to consultants and even working with some technology designers, we returned to the idea that what we needed was tools. So, we formed an in-house team of staff members from different departments and started analyzing how we could use technology to amplify our family activities. The going was tough, but now we can't wait for our audiences to experience what we have in store for them!  

What three words would you use to describe the New Victory lobby of 2016?
 
Dark, boring, old-fashioned
 
What three words would you use to describe the New Victory lobby of 2017?
 
Vibrant, energetic, warm
 
Jason Bishop Thumb Don't be a stranger! Visit the new lobby when you join us for Jason Bishop: Believe in MagicBack by popular demand after last season's sold-out run, Jason returns with even more tricks (and wry one-liners) up his sleeve.

 
Posted by Beth Henderson

Facilities manager Jaymie Bowles takes us through the most exciting additions to our new lobby and reveals what it's like to bring such an in-depth project like this to life!
 
Jaymie Bowles
As the new facility manager at The New Victory Theater, my job is to manage the operations of the theater's maintenance, cleaning, project management and construction. Since I recently joined the New Vic, I only experienced the original lobby space for a few, short months before we began construction. Though I didn't spend a lot of time with the first space, knowing its history and seeing the impact it had on New York City families made it feel like home. Undeniably, it was bittersweet for us to see it disappear over the summer. However, at the end of the day, the goal of this construction is to revitalize the theater and make it a living, breathing place for children of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to develop a #LoveOfTheater. For those of us who work here, our goal is to make it feel like home again. 

I can't wait to see the audience fall in love with this new, interactive space. Pre-construction, our lobby was brought to life by our programs and events, but the space itself offered very little. As the new space falls into place, I'm thrilled to see the improved lobby emerge brighter, more welcoming and even more fun! All of the New Vic's different departments are busy working on ways to embrace the new elements and to create an imaginative and engaging experience for all.

In 'Phase One'—which you'll see if you join us for The Young King, A Sky for the Bears or The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence—LuEsther's Lobby has been transformed with a fresh new look, modernized restrooms and an updated merchandise stand. The first thing that I guarantee you'll notice is the addition of colorful and informative digital canvas. It's definitely going to be a big hit! When we saw it turned on for the first time, it was magical. For so long, we only had our imaginations to picture what it would look like. When the switch was finally flipped "on," our whole department let out a collective “ooooohh” of amazement.

The New Space'Phase Two' begins with Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic. The new Jack and Lew Rudin Lobby will open with exciting new ways to engage with the performing arts (including even more, interactive screens), teaching artists and a cafe where you'll find a menu of healthy snacks. In addition to a revitalized comforting, colorful space, the chair lift will be replaced with a ramp to help make the space significantly more ADA-friendly.

Of course, as with any project, there have been challenges along the way (which I've seen first-hand). The images everyone sees on blueprints, diagrams and mock-ups may look perfectly planned, but the truth is the creation of any space—including our lobby—is a lot more hectic than blueprints let on...but also a lot more exciting. There were some adjustments that had to be made in-field and some on-the-fly decisions to keep the project moving forward. But that's the fun part of construction—seeing the images on paper come to life and then being able to change and adjust based on real-life conditions!

I've been in charge of construction projects before at many other locations, but none were as unique as this. Although beginning each project is relatively standard, the separate end products make them all unique. And the end product of this project is going to be phenomenal. From the shape of Lew's Lobby, to the bright color scheme, to the fun furniture for seating, The New Victory is going to be one-of-a-kind and will always stand out!

New Victory Lobby Renderings 2017

 
Jaymie Bowles Jaymie Bowles was born and raised in Brockton, MA. She graduated from Arcadia University in Glenside, PA with her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications in 2008. She went on to get certified in Broadcasting from The Connecticut School of Broadcasting in 2012 and then Facility Management in 2016. 

As a student at Arcadia University, she secured a work study position within the Facilities Department. There, she progressed from student worker to Assistant Director of the department through Aramark Higher Ed. Jaymie seized the opportunity to move to New York in 2014 to work for New York University Facilities and Construction Management, and she's been a New York resident ever since. 

Two years into her career at NYU, a new and better opportunity at The New Victory Theater in Times Square presented itself. As Facility Manager for The New Victory Theater, she is now in charge of the operations of the theater in the area of maintenance, cleaning, project management and construction. 

And although she works in the heart of NYC, she is still and will always will be a Boston sports fan!

 
Posted by Beth Henderson
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