The Public Theatre Reveals Major Restoration of Central Park’s Historic Delacorte Theatre

Rendering of the new Delacorte Theatre - The Public Theatre; Ennead ArchitectsRendering of the new Delacorte Theatre - The Public Theatre; Ennead Architects

The Public Theatre has partnered with the Central Park Conservancy and the New York City Parks Department to complete extensive renovations at the Delacorte Theatre. Located in Central Park, the historic theatre was completed in 1962 and has not undergone significant capital improvement since 1999.

Beyond necessary structural repairs, the scope of work includes upgrades to back-of-house areas for artists and staff, backstage areas for theatrical operation, lighting, sprinkler and fire alarm systems, audience seating, and improved access for mobility-limited and disabled patrons. Renderings also reveal dramatic changes to the exterior façade including a new covered canopy, bluestone pathways, and large signage.
Ennead Architects is responsible for the overall design of the Delacorte Theatre renovation.

“As our city’s cultural institutions rebound from their most challenging year on record, these crucial improvements to The Delacorte signify that New York is back and ready to meaningfully invest in our [institutions] once again,” said Arielle Tepper, Public Theater board chair. “After nearly 60 years of providing free Shakespeare and performance art to countless residents and visitors to our city, this design will renew The Delacorte’s promise of delivering free artistic brilliance to diverse audiences for decades to come.”

Plans to renovate the theatre were first announced in 2018. Since that time, The Public Theatre has conferred with community board members, public supporters, volunteers, and historic preservation experts to devise a scope of work that suited the legacy of the property, as well as its loyal patrons, stakeholders, and the New York City community. The project team also met with environmental consultants to mitigate potential adverse impacts to Central Park.

Total project costs are estimated at $77 million. Financial contributions include $41 million contributed by the New York City Mayor’s Office, City Council, the Manhattan Borough President’s office, and private donors.

“The Delacorte Theater is home to Central Park’s rich history in public space, architecture, and the performing arts,” said Manhattan borough president Gale A. Brewer. “It has embraced free performances for over half a century. This concerted effort to renovate the theater will speak volumes of the importance of cultural preservation. The emphasis on programmatic and structural sustainability, through the use of durable and changing elements, will set a strong precedent for future projects. Furthermore, the theater’s commitment to equity by introducing ADA compliancy will provide accessibility for all New Yorkers.”

Before construction can begin, the Landmarks Preservation Commission must approve all plans to renovate the building. An initial hearing will take place early next year. Pending approvals, construction is expected to begin in fall of 2022.

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