By Terry Trucco
Seems it wasn’t that long ago – 2005, to be precise – that The Plaza closed for major refurbishments inside and out. The spruced up property reopened with a flourish in 2008 housing hotel rooms, condominiums and a high-end shopping mall that has since morphed into the wildly – and deservedly – popular Plaza Food Hall and Todd English Food.
So why is this 1907 landmark swaddled in a pale white scrim, the kind that signals heavy-duty construction work instead of an artwork by Christo?
“Apparently the exterior work was not good enough,” a desk attendant told me when I stopped by to see the wrappings.
It seems a slab of concrete – a big one – fell from the façade recently. Fortunately, no one was killed. But to prevent a repeat performance, the exterior is being restored once again, a process expected to last at least a year.
As construction scrims go, the Plaza’s is a beauty. In a spectacular display of trompe l’oeil craftsmanship, the scrim shielding the front of the building has been painted to look exactly
like the hotel. From a distance you almost don’t realize you’re looking at a life-size artist’s rendering of Henry Janeway Hardenberg’s iconic Fifth Avenue chateau. Every window, gable and turret is in place, amplified by shadings of pale Plaza green.
Zero in closer to the hotel, however, and it’s clear that the Plaza is once again a construction site, at least on the outside.
And on the inside? Hotel guests in rooms facing south may find themselves gazing out onto scaffolding as well as the classic cityscape that includes Bergdorf Goodman, Rockefeller Center and the spire of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a desk attendant says.
Update: I’m happy to report that The Plaza scrim, clever as it was, is gone and the hotel is once again on full view.