Andrew Hamingson, Sam Waterston, Oskar Eustis, and Liev Schreiber
(© Tristan Fuge)
Andrew Hamingson, Sam Waterston, Oskar Eustis, and Liev Schreiber
(© Tristan Fuge)
The Public Theater formally announced plans for its $35 million renovation of its home at 425 Lafayette Street on Tuesday, March 9 at a ceremonial groundbreaking event.

Polshek Partnership Architects will create and oversee an expanded and refurbished lobby; an exterior entrance staircase with two ADA-accessible ramps and a glass covered canopy; a complete restoration of the theater's historic brownstone façade; a complete upgrade of the theater's heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; new restroom facilities on the ground floor; an expanded and centrally located box office; a new mezzanine level including a community room/lounge with a capacity for 150 people; improved and expanded concessions service; the incorporation of energy-efficient technology; and improved street visibility including six new poster boxes and exterior lighting. In addition, the new lobby will feature a media installation by artist Ben Rubin entitled "Shakespeare Machine."

During the renovation, two of the Public's theaters, the Martinson and the Newman, will remain fully operational, and the Anspacher will be in use part of the time. No specific timetable for completion of the project was announced.

The Public also announced that the kitchen of Joe's Pub will be expanded and a new menu -- consisting of sandwiches, salads, and other cold food -- will be put in place. A new entrance to the Pub will also be built later in the construction process.

Speakers at the event included Artistic Director Oskar Eustis, Executive Director Andrew D. Hamingson and Board Chairman Warren Spector, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, and Board Members Liev Schreiber and Sam Waterston.

Also on hand were actors Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Laura Benanti, Michael Cerveris, Audra McDonald, Will Swenson, Gloria Reuben, Jay O. Sanders, Maryann Plunkett, and Kristine Nielsen; playwrights Nilo Cruz, Christopher Durang, David Henry Hwang, Richard Nelson, Richard Foreman, John Weidman, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Chay Yew; directors Daniel Sullivan and Michael Greif; and Gail Merrifield Papp, widow of the Public's founder, Joseph Papp, and a member of the theater's Board.