As part of a larger renovation of the Public Theater, which includes a new façade, storefront, entrance, lobby, mezzanine balconies, and a staircase, Rockwell Group has created a mezzanine bar and lounge. The mezzanine space did not exist before Rockwell Group’s renovation, but thanks to a 25-foot open ceiling in the lobby, it was possible to create a cozy, almost hidden space within the void that was inspired by the idea of a vintage library.
For the mezzanine bar and lounge, Rockwell Group envisioned a secret corner one might discover in the New York Public Library. In the entrance vestibule, guests are greeted at a hostess station made of custom cabinetry that can be used to display books and other props, and that contains a card catalogue drawer. An antique metal gate, evoking original architectural elements found in the Public Theater building, both defines this space and offers guests a glimpse into the bar and lounge area.
Rockwell Group worked around the steel beams in the center of the lounge area to emphasize the intimate feeling created by the low ceiling. Two columns were created to match a pair of existing cast iron columns, and all four were then finished with a rustic black paint. The columns define the central communal area, which offers flexible dining options in the form of three hand-scraped walnut tables grouped together and two smaller wooden tables on either side.
Surrounding this gathering place are three niches defined by three button tufted banquettes set in front of industrial, steel-framed bookcases. The bookcases can be used to display vintage scripts, Shakespearean plays, or theater props. Wood-paneled walls also offer opportunities to display thematic content befitting the lounge, such as old posters from past Public Theater performances.
At the far end of the space is the bar, which features an island illuminated by a striking custom cast iron steel frame chandelier that doubles as a wine glass rack hanging above it. All of the lighting in the space — including sconces and table lamps of blackened steel and brushed bronze — have been custom made by Conant Metal and Lighting in Vermont.
The Library serves drinks and an American menu created by acclaimed restaurateurs Andrew Carmellini and Luke Ostrom, featuring bar snacks, appetizers, sandwiches, dinner plates, and desserts sourced from local ingredients.