public theater lobby graphics by pentagram
 
public theater lobby graphics by pentagram
jul 16, 2013

public theater lobby graphics by pentagram

public theater lobby graphics by pentagram

 

paula scher and her team at pentagram have completed the environmental graphics for the public theater‘s lobby in new york. the work is part of a collaboration with ennead architects who have been renovating the theater for several years.

 

the first stage of the renovation opened last fall with the graphic elements being gradually installed throughout the season. scher worked closely with ennead to translate her identity for the theater into signage and wayfinding that helps make the lobby dynamic and accessible and celebrates the public’s status as a theater for the ‘public.’

 

read designboom’s recent interview with paula scher »

 

 

public theater lobby graphics by pentagram
the transparent awning only connects to the façade at two points, a condition of the building’s landmark status.

 

 

‘the theater is housed in the former astor library, a historic 1853 building on lafayette street in the east village that was originally constructed as the city’s first public library. the public’s founder joseph papp (who also established shakespeare in the park) moved the theater into the space in 1967, helping to save the building and win it landmark status. the interior was converted into six individual theaters of various sizes (originally designed by giorgio cavaglieri), as well as joe’s pub, the popular nightclub that opened in 1998.’

 

 

public theater lobby graphics by pentagram
the façade features a new marquee canopy made of panes of custom frit glass.

 

 

‘ennead has been working over the past decade on various upgrades to the building, but the current revitalization is the first significant intervention since the public opened in the space. the design 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. now under the guidance of artistic director oskar eustis, the public’s mission is theater for everyone, and the renovation makes this explicit by opening up the space while also preserving the landmark building.’

 

 

public theater lobby graphics by pentagram
revitalized façade of the theater with illuminated poster boxes, banners and steps to the street.

 

 

‘for the exterior the pentagram team designed a new marquee canopy that dramatically renders the public logo in glass over the steps of the entrance. to win approval by the city’s landmarks commission, the awning is only connected to the building at two points. the letters of the logo are clear and transparent, reversed out of the custom frit pattern of the glass. the awning is accompanied by illuminated poster boxes that run along the street in front of the theater.’

 

 

public theater lobby graphics by pentagram
the reconfigured lobby centers on a circular front desk featuring a dimensional version of the public theater logo.

 

‘inside scher’s ‘knockout’ typeface performs in the space, guiding theatergoers and setting a friendly tone that invites audiences to linger.’

 

‘the reconfigured lobby centers on a circular front desk that features a dimensional, large-scale version of the public logo. scher helped commission a chandelier-like multimedia sculpture designed by the artist ben rubin that hangs over the desk. called the shakespeare machine, the piece randomly generates phrases from shakespeare’s works (also set in knockout) and is flanked by projections that provide information of current productions. the box office at the back of the lobby features a colorful collage of sniped public posters from the past two decades.’

 

 

public theater lobby graphics by pentagram
identification signage is etched into the lobby’s distinctive arches.

 

 

public theater lobby graphics by pentagram

 

 

public theater lobby graphics by pentagram
the graphics are integrated with the architecture of the building.

 

‘the various theaters in the building are identified with dimensional typography that has been etched into the lobby’s distinctive arches. plaster archways feature routed typography painted with textured paint; steel archways use laser-cut steel sheets. the color echoes the red and black typography of the first identity scher designed for the institution, back in 1994. a red railing also runs around the balcony lounge on the lobby’s second level; this line was referenced in the “open the public” campaign that accompanied the official reopening of the space last fall.’

 

 

public theater lobby graphics by pentagram
detail of the etched typography.

 

‘for donor recognition signage a dimensional installation presents donor plaques as bricks that extend from an arrangement in the wall. the bigger the gift, the bigger the brick.’

 

public theater lobby graphics by pentagram
donor wall

 

 

public theater lobby graphics by pentagram
donor wall – detail

 

 

public theater lobby graphics by pentagram
donor wall – the bigger the gift, the bigger the brick.

 

‘the environmental graphics were recently honored with a bronze cube in the art directors club 92nd annual awards.’

 

public theater lobby graphics by pentagram
box office sniped with a collage of public theater posters designed by paula scher.

 

pentagram project team
paula scher (partner in charge + designer)
drew freeman (designer)
courtney gooch (designer)
rafael medina (designer)

  • this is ART!

    pat taylor
  • Great!

    Isaac Grant
  • The exterior illumination appears to be beautifully executed. The soft and even illumination of the large first floor arches, on the sidewalk, is absolutely lovely.

    Ron Smith

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