The building will be the first theatre to be constructed in the new district. It will contain a 299-seat flexible theatre, a 50-seat rehearsal/performance space, a café, offices, and, in a throwback to the early days of Broadway, a roof garden. The total cost of the project is $35.8 million.
By making the move, the 25-year-old Theatre for a New Audience will become the first major New York nonprofit theatre not to be located in Manhattan. The theatre will receive $6.2 million in City support through the BAM Local Development Corporation (BAM LDC), which is chaired by Harvey Lichtenstein, and the Department of Cultural Affairs.
Gehry is the maverick international architect whose singular creations include the twisted metal Guggenheim Museum on Bilbao, Spain. Hardy is known for his restoration or several classic Times Square theatres, including the New Victory and the New Amsterdam.
The building is in keeping with Gehry's reputation for unorthodox structures and sometimes outrageous whimsy. The theatre resembles an enormous packing box turned on its side, with a wall of glass covering the open end facing Flatbush Avenue. The sides of the building are clad in large, patterned, rectangular stainless-steel shingles with angled planes of glass. An undulated canopy floats along the side and two arching side windows shed light on a series of curvilinear stairways and balconies inside, as well as a Milton Glaser mural integrating a series of portraits of Shakespeare.
Harvey Lichtenstein, BAM Local Development Corporation Chairman, said, "It is a joy for me to welcome Theatre for a New Audience to the BAM Cultural District and to become part of this community. Under Jeffrey Horowitz' visionary leadership, Theatre for a New Audience has grown into one of New York's most progressive companies, attracting some of America and Europe's most imaginative artists. The design is amazing. It's the most beautiful and cost-effective theatre of its kind in New York City." Jeffrey Horowitz said, "Theatre for a New Audience's new home will be more than a stage. It will be a center devoted to the power of language in the theatre. We will produce Shakespeare alongside classics and modern plays exploring common themes between past and present... We will reach out to other theatre companies and when Theatre for New Audience is not in production, our performance spaces will be available for rental." Horowitz said that the main stage, a rectangular space which combines an Elizabethan-style courtyard theatre with a flexible contemporary auditorium, was inspired by the Cottesloe Theatre of London's Royal National Theatre. It has high ceilings and a trapped floor, and the audience and stage can be arranged in different configurations such as thrust, in-the-round, proscenium or runway.
Beginning Feb. 4, an exhibition on the new theatre with models and renderings will be on display to the public at the Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place in Manhattan.