Historic details included in 92nd Street Y’s 21st-century upgrade

Wilton Vinck

Seth Pinsky, the CEO of 92NY and a former head of the city’s Economic Development Corp. during the Bloomberg administration, led the master plan during the height of the pandemic.

“The truth is that our building has been bursting at the seams since even before the pandemic,” said Pinsky, who joined the 92nd Street Y in the fall of 2019. “It felt like the right moment for us to really begin in earnest on a major redevelopment of our campus.”

Typically, some 300,000 people visit 92NY annually. With the rise of virtual programming, in two years their nearly 2,000 original programs drew 6 million viewers from all 50 states and some 200 countries. In May the 92nd Street Y embraced its global reach with a new moniker: ​​the 92nd Street Y, New York—92NY for short.

The institution has already completed an initial round of upgrades, including a new outdoor space on the roof of one of its buildings and prosaic but pressing building infrastructure updates.

The upcoming second leg of the project is the first major overhaul. In the next 12 to 18 months workers will renovate Buttenwiser Hall, create a new dance studio and upgrade the campus’ gym.

The $24 million undertaking is being paid for through a combination of fundraising dollars along with city and state support. More cash will need to be raised to fully realize the $200 million master plan, the next steps of which are being worked out now, Pinsky said.

To complicate matters, 92NY will not close its doors, meaning up to 3,000 people per day will navigate the campus as renovations progress, Pinsky said.

Those who have physically visited 92NY are likely familiar with Buttenwiser Hall as an event space that hosts everything from dance performances to celebrity interviews to gala dinners. Leber said the hall, which was originally used for religious services, will have contemporary finishes that give the space the flexibility to meet 92NY’s current and future programming needs.

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