New York City’s historic Public Theater is going green. The producers of the world famous “Shakespeare in the Park” are renovating their Astor Place headquarters as part of a restoration and redesign project. Thanks to extensive sustainability improvements, the Public Theater expects its landmarked Romanesque revival building to to receive LEED silver certification. Leading the green makeover is Ennead Architects, a firm internationally known its work on performance space, having worked on major institutions like Carnegie Hall and the Santa Fe Opera. Renovations are expected to be complete by the end of the year.
The Public Theater is joining Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC 2030 initiative to reduce carbon emissions in NYC buildings, and will be doing so by receiving a complete infrastructure upgrade. These improvements will not only create savings of up to 25 percent in operations costs, but will also reduce annual CO2 production by 519 tons. Upgrades include a complete overhaul of the theater’s outdated, 30-year-old HVAC system, which will save the theater almost $100,000 in yearly maintenance repair costs and will reduce the theater’s carbon footprint.
Exterior renovations include a complete restoration of the historic landmark brownstone facade, originally constructed in 1890 as the original Astor Library. A large, glass canopy covered entry staircase was added to the exterior, creating 456 square feet of new usable space in the lobby. Two new ADA entrance ramps were added to improve accessibility, and energy-efficient exterior lighting will be used to highlight the beautiful architecture and improve street visibility for audience and pedestrians. As of now, most of the exterior is complete.
The interior is still under construction. Changes include an expanded lobby, along with the creation of a new Mezzanine level and lobby balcony, which will add an additional 945 square feet. The lobby balcony will also have a new restaurant and lounge area, and the main lobby will have a renovated pub. The Public Theater is adding new restrooms which will have low-flow fixtures, as well as upgrading the old facilities. Finally, the theater will also see the addition of sprinklers throughout the building and the complete replacement of outdated mechanical and electrical systems.
The Public Theater joins a growing list of New York City landmarks undergoing green renovations. The Argonaut Building recently received LEED Gold, the Empire State Building is in the process of a $100 million green makeover, and the Municipal Art Society is currently greening historical buildings on Henry Street. Which landmarks will be next?