Iconic Rainbow Room Reopens with All Its Former Glitz and Glamour
The Rainbow Room served its first guests on October 3, 1934, and now, almost 80 years later to the day, the historic restaurant and event space has reopened after a restoration by Gabellini Sheppard Architects.
Located on the 65th floor of the Raymond Hood-designed 30 Rockefeller Plaza (30 Rock), it was the first restaurant located in a high-rise building and for decades was the highest restaurant in the country. Suffering from a decline in business, the fine-dining establishment closed its doors in 2009. But in 2012, the Rainbow Room was declared an official interior landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), and a year later it was announced that the storied space would reopen this fall. Right on schedule, the new incarnation of the venue opened last night for a preview by the Sir John Soanes Museum Foundation.
The design of the Rainbow Room was originally completed by architect Wallace K. Harrison of Associated Architects and interior designer Elena Bachman-Schmidt. Since the space is a landmarked interior, Gabellini Sheppard’s restoration work had to comply with its historic character and pass review by the LPC, retaining any and all original ornamentation. Out of 31,000 NYC landmarks, only 155 are interior (others include the Plaza, the ground floor of the Chrysler Building, and Grand Central Terminal)
The architects restored the dance floor and the new cocktail lounge called SixtyFive (the restaurant occupies the entire 65th floor of 30 Rock). They also paid close attention to light, mixing new technologies with original fixtures such as the crystal chandeliers and sconces, and retained the lilac and silver color scheme. For decades, the balconies along the southern and western tower facades were closed to the public, but thanks to a new glass wall just inside the original Art Deco copper balustrades, guests can once again enjoy this magnificent space.
Previously, the Rainbow Room underwent a $25 million renovation in 1984 to the designs of Hugh Hardy. Commissioned by David Rockefeller, it also expanded the space’s footprint to 45,000 square feet. From what we can see, new owner Tishman Speyer has only further increased the glitz and glamour of this iconic interior.
Photos courtesy of Architizer