Central Park Theater unveils new design for ‘deteriorating’ venue



CENTRAL PARK, NY – Shakespeare in the Park is about to be a little different.

The Public Theater, in partnership with the Central Park Conservancy and NYC Parks, on Wednesday unveiled plans for an overhaul of the 59-year-old Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

The proposal will now go through a public engagement process with local community councils, the Monument Preservation Commission and other stakeholders.

“The theater has outlived its current facilities in almost every measurable way,” read a press release from the Public Theater. “The renovation of the Delacorte is not optional: the deteriorating structure is in urgent need of reconstruction to provide improved and more comfortable conditions for staff, artists and the public. “

Photo courtesy of the Théâtre public

Here is a collection of the main design change elements on offer:

  • Accessible and comfortable space for disabled audiences and artists: Built before many modern accessibility codes, the existing Delacorte has only one access point for the disabled and a single row of seats in the front row to the right of the house. The proposed design will bring the entire theater into line with the current code, with a focus on maximizing accessibility.
  • Streamlined behind-the-scenes operations and improved comfort for cast and crew: The new design improves inefficiencies in the cinema, which will reduce the time required for loading, loading and changing between productions.
  • Revitalized exterior for a more dynamic aesthetic experience: The outer wall of the theater will be tilted slightly outward to give the Delacorte a dynamic presence and movement. The textured wood facade plays with light and shade, complementing the natural setting of trees and aerial foliage. The new covered glass roof and the widened blue stone path will welcome visitors, provide more generous circulation and better shelter from the rain and the sun.
  • A focus on resilience and sustainability: The existing decking suffered extensive damage which caused multiple rebuild points for each season.
  • Lighting improvements: The newly designed light towers will provide improved lighting for the stage and performances, adding to the overall theatrical experience and ambiance.
  • Improved sprinkler and fire alarm systems.
  • Improved exterior and interior signage and orientation.

No rendering was provided for the expected changes inside the theater.

The proposed design also includes expanding the sanitary blocks that serve as bathrooms in the theater.

Plans to redesign and renovate the space were first announced in 2018. The Delacorte was built in 1962 and has only undergone a few small upgrades since 1999.

The theater redesign project is expected to cost $ 77 million, including $ 41 million from Manhattan’s mayor, city council and borough president – and the rest from private donors.

Pending the appropriate approvals, work is expected to begin in fall 2022.

“As our city’s cultural institutions recover from their most difficult year on record, these crucial improvements at Delacorte mean New York is back and ready to make significant investments in our cultures again,” said Arielle Tepper, chair of the public theater board, in a statement. Press release. “After nearly sixty years of providing free Shakespeare and performance art to countless residents and visitors to our city, this design will renew The Delacorte’s promise to provide free artistic brilliance to a diverse audience for decades to come. future.”


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