Public Theater Unveils $35 Million Renovation Plans

News   Public Theater Unveils $35 Million Renovation Plans
The Public Theater has announced plans for a $35 million renovation of the façade and lobby of its 158-year-old downtown home on Lafayette Street.

The New York Times reports that the theatrical institution, which took up residence at the site of the former Astor Library in 1967 under the auspices of Joseph Papp, will embark on a series of renovations.

Polshek Partnership Architects are designing the modifications, which will primarily focus on the lobby and entryway of the building, including a new mezzanine that will overlook the current lobby area and increase the capacity from 250 to 690 theatregoers. The redesign will feature glass enclosures around the staircases leading into the lobby and new signs created to help patrons locate the Public's individual theatres more easily.

The Public's façade will feature a new glass canopied granite veranda, including an outer staircase and two ramps flanking the building to provide easier access for disabled patrons. The plans for the expanded entryway encroach on the current Lafayette Street sidewalk, so the Public and its architects have also revealed an expanded sidewalk to allow for pedestrian traffic.

Internal renovations will include increased restrooms, as well as upgrades to the heating and air-conditioning systems.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Department of Transportation and a local community board all had to approve the designs since the existing structure is deemed a New York City landmark. The city, which leased the 1853 Astor Library to the Public Theater at $1 for 99 years, has promised $22 million to the project, which is eyeing an August 2011 completion. The Public states it has raised 35 percent of the remaining cost. Construction is slated to begin in February 2010.

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