Signature Theatre Company opens the doors of its new Frank Gehry-designed home in New York this month. Housing three stages under one roof, the 70,000-square-foot structure also boasts a central hub where the casts, crews, playwrights, and audiences of all productions can interact. Artistic director Jim Houghton highlights the features of the communal space.
No shocker—everyone loves booze! That's why this bar and cafe lets company and audience members intermingle. "This part of the building is an invitation to connect to each other," Houghton says. "It's where we can collect and collide."
Gehry designed three light boxes scattered across the lobby to provide an "ethereal" feel, Houghton says. "They float in the sky and illuminate the room, while bringing it down to scale."
The open-area bookstore's plywood cases and concrete floor were chosen to offer accessibility. "These materials are modest at the core and familiar to any individual visiting the space," Houghton says.
A plywood raceway in the ceiling becomes a tension point, providing both airiness and a feeling of intimacy. "It brings the ceiling down but creates a volume around it that makes it comfortable," Houghton says.
A version of this article appeared in the February 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.