The Public Theater Renovation

Merit Award 2014

In Fall 2012, the Public Theater opened a major revitalization of its New York home in the former Astor Library, a historic 1854 landmark located on Lafayette Street in East Village. Designed by Ennead Architects, the revitalization is the Public’s first significant upgrade since it opened in the space in 1967. It features a redesigned entry, expanded lobby, and restoration of the façade that adds a canopy and moves the building’s steps back onto the sidewalk.

Pentagram Partner Paula Scher and her team worked with Ennead to integrate the Public’s identity—a familiar part of the city’s cultural landscape for the past two decades—into the architecture. The Pentagram renovation transforms the lobby into a gathering space for theatergoers, and Pentagram translated the identity into environmental graphics that help make the space vibrant and welcoming and celebrate the Public’s status as a theater for the “public.”

Pentagram's bold typography was translated into three dimensions in the lobby’s circular front desk (made of glass fiber-reinforced gypsum) that features a dimensional, large-scale version of the Public Theater logo. A chandelier-like multimedia sculpture designed by Ben Rubin hangs above and is flanked by projections that provide information about current productions. Theaters are identified with dimensional typography inset into the lobby’s distinctive arches. Plaster archways feature routed knocked-out text painted with textured Matthews paint; steel archways use steel sheets laser cut with knocked-out text. The box office features a colorful collage of Public posters from the past two decades. Outside, the restored façade features the Public logo rendered as a transparent marquee canopy made of custom frit glass. Illuminated poster boxes run along the street.

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Jury Comments: 

“Beautiful evolution of the theater’s 3D brand expression. Ticket buying becomes the first act in the performance. Thank you for the arches.”


Design Firm: 



The Public Theater

Location City: 

New York

Project Area: 

107,000 sq ft

Open Date: 

July 2013

Project Budget: 


Photo Credits: 

Ennead Architects (architecture); Ben Rubin, EAR Studio (Shkspeare Machine)

Design Team: 

Paula Scher (art director, designer); Andrew Freeman, Rafael Medina, Courtney Gooch (designers)


Ennead Architects (architecture); Ben Rubin, EAR Studio (Shkspeare Machine)


Design Communications Ltd. (fabricator), Matthews Paint (finishes)

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