Hugh Hardy, an architect who breathed exuberant new life into some of New York City's most storied theatrical landmarks, including Radio City Music Hall, died Thursday in Manhattan. He was 84.
The cause was a cerebral hemorrhage. Hardy fell Wednesday getting out of a taxi across from the Joyce Theater, one of the many theaters and great public spaces that he restored or renovated. He and his wife had dinner anyway, then went to the Joyce for a dance performance. He lost consciousness there and was taken to Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, where he died.
Hardy also had a major role in the design and development of the south end of Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis when he got the commission for a brash nautical-industrial Orchestra Hall, which opened in 1974 alongside Peavey Plaza.
The new home of the Minnesota Orchestra featured such controversial elements as blue ventilation standpipes at street level and inexpensive materials throughout. Hardy's brick-clad jewel box of a concert hall, with its distinctive tumbling dice motif, survived a 2014 exterior renovation that completely obscured his original.
Hardy's firm also designed the 1983 glass-and-Kasota-stone WCCO-TV building across the street from Orchestra Hall.
In 2001, the Guthrie Theater's architect-selection committee identified 70 famous architects around the world for its new theater on the Mississippi; Hardy was one of five finalists.
In New York City, Hardy's works included the New Victory Theater on 42nd Street, the Majestic Theater in downtown Brooklyn, the Central Synagogue on Lexington Avenue, the gingerbread information kiosk in Central Park, the Rizzoli Bookstore (now gone) on West 57th Street, the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center, the Claire Tow Theater on top of the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center and — before Sept. 11, 2001 — Windows on the World atop the World Trade Center.
Hardy combined an affection for the past with showmanship, nurtured by his early association with theatrical set and lighting designer Jo Mielziner.
Hardy headed three architectural practices of his own: Hugh Hardy & Associates, formed in 1962; Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, formed in 1967 with Malcolm Holzman and Norman Pfeiffer; and H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, formed in 2004.
"I don't think any architect has better embodied the spirit of New York than Hugh, not only through his work but also through everything he thought and wrote and did," said Paul Goldberger, a former New York Times architecture critic. "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."
Hugh Gelston Hardy was born July 26, 1932, in Majorca, Spain.
New York Times, Star Tribune staff