The Public Theater welcomed a large crowd into its newly renovated lobby this morning to celebrate the completion of its $40 million makeover led by Ennead Architects. The renovation extensively restored the brownstone facade and ornamental stone work, and a new entry staircase was built. The black granite stairs have illumination panels built-in, and a canopy was installed above the entrance. Inside, the lobby has been remade to better accomodate the public, and they hope it will be a "public piazza" for artists and audiences. The staircases have been moved to both sides of the lobby to better direct traffic flow, and a concession stand sits in the center of the room. A mezzanine level has a public lounge, and The Library restaurant, designed by the Rockwell Group.
The lobby's "chandelier" is actually a digital art installation called the "Shakespeare Machine" designed by Ben Rubin. Thirty-seven thin LED panels suspended from the ceiling unfold in an oval over the center of the space. Each screen displays fragments of Shakespeare's plays. The words are chosen by an algorithm created by Rubin so the arrangement is always unique and will never be repeated.
To close the dedication, a dozen or so individuals involved with the project?including Mayor Bloomberg, Council speaker Christine Quinn, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer?read a few lines of Shakespeare to "bless" the space. Then the cast of the HAIR revival sang a song, which was planned because when the Public Theater opened 45 years ago, it presented the world premiere of HAIR. Cue the "awws."
· Public Theater coverage [Curbed]
· Public Theater [official]