Planning for the New York Marriott Marquis was first announced in 1972 when Mayor John Lindsay approached John C. Portman, a prominent architect and real estate developer based out of Atlanta, to design a major hotel in Times Square. The project, which was part of a larger campaign to redevelop the crime-ridden neighborhood, was co-developed by Portman and Marriott International 10 years later.
After three years of construction, the $350 million Marquis officially opened its doors in October 1985 with a grand opening celebration in the hotel’s distinctive atrium. With 1,946 guest rooms and suites, the hotel was the first major project of the Times Square redevelopment and is often credited as the starting point of the neighborhood’s commercial renaissance.
Located on Broadway between 45th and 46th streets, the hotel sits on the former site of five historic theaters – the Helen Hayes, the Morosco, the Astor, the Bijou and the Gaiety. As a result, part of the project’s approval required the inclusion of a new theater on the property, the Marquis Theater. In addition to the 1,500-seat theater, the hotel boasts a ballroom and 80,000 additional square feet of meeting, banquet and exhibition space.
The 49-story tower is best known for its atrium lobby, which rises 45 stories to the city’s only revolving restaurant. The design, first popularized by Portman in 1967 with the Atlanta Hyatt Regency, represented the future of commercial architecture. With subsequent projects like the Marriott Marquis hotel in Atlanta, the Westin Bonaventure in downtown Los Angeles and the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, Portman made a name for himself as an innovative architect, reinventing hotel design with his trademark atria, high-tech glass elevators and revolving rooftop lounges.
Although it struggled with a 78 percent occupancy in its first full year of operation, the Marriott Marquis still stands today as one of the largest and busiest hotels in New York City and continues to attract guests to one of the world’s most iconic travel destinations.
As counsel to the Mayor’s Mid-Town Office of Development, Leonard Grunstein worked on the Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) application that permitted the development of the hotel in the early 1980s.