Archtober Building of the Day #6> Central Park's Tavern on the Green

Archtober Building of the Day #6> Central Park's Tavern on the Green

Archtober Building of the Day #6
Tavern on the Green
Central Park West & 67th Street
Swanke Hayden Connell Architects

The Swanke Hayden Connell Architects team was well represented on today’s Archtober tour with Elizabeth Moss, How Zan, and landscape architect Robin Key, principal of Robin Key Landscape Architecture. Our tour focused on the technical aspects of the restoration of the Tavern on the Green. With a detailed look at the removal of excrescences layered on from the 1930s conversion of the Jacob Wray Mould Sheepfold to the Robert Moses Tavern on the Green. Plenty of other architects, in earlier times, have had their hands on this subtle folksy Victorian decorated with polychromed brick, slate, stone, and Minton tiles.

Aymar Embury executed the original ’30s conversion from a barn to a restaurant. Even Skidmore, Owings & Merrill had a turn in the 1940s with the Elm Room (mercifully gone!). Thank goodness the original roof trusses are still intact. It is a beautiful restoration, masterfully executed, bringing new life to a site that has struggled in recent years to find its footing. Warner LeRoy went bankrupt in 2009 forcing the restaurant to close until its revival in May, 2014. The jury is still out on the success of its food service component (yes, it’s still a restaurant—and under siege from the foodies), but the architecture is splendid, and you can’t beat the location.

The Tavern is definitely an icon of New York, not only because of its totally satisfying Central Park architecture and fantastic location, but also because of the social goings-on it has seen and been host to over the years. John Lennon was a habitué, celebrating first his October birthday, then with his son Sean, who shared the same birthday (October 9, 1940 and 1975). Parties at the Tavern have been the stuff of legends, and we are looking forward to having a chance to make some of our own.

Pull up to the grab-and-go for a coffee off the Bridle Path. Dine under the trees with visions of the 200 Southdown sheep that used to blissfully graze in Sheep Meadow. Enjoy!

Tomorrow’s tour is of the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK Airport.

Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA, is the Managing Director of the Center for Architecture and the festival director for Archtober:  Architecture and Design Month NYC.  She was previously a partner at Butler Rogers Baskett, and from 1989-2005 at Swanke Hayden Connell.  After graduating from Princeton (AB 1975, M.Arch 1979) she worked for Philip Johnson,  held faculty appointments at the University of Virginia, NJIT, and her alma mater. Her daughter, Emily, is getting married at Tavern on the Green on Saturday, October 11th.