Rockwell Group to Design Harvey Fierstein Theater Lab

In a live chat with Harvey Fierstein and Billy Rose Theater Division curator Doug Reside last night, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center announced that award-winning architect and set designer David Rockwell and the LAB at Rockwell Group, the Rockwell Group’s design and experience technology studio, will design the Harvey Fierstein Theater Lab.

David Rockwell said, “We are honored to be able to create this space for exploration, innovation and imagination. Harvey’s vision to create a new home for the next generation of theater artists is an essential part of the Performing Arts Library’s mission to inspire and support creativity.”

“We are very honored that The Rockwell Group is designing the Harvey Fierstein Theater Lab,” said Jennifer Schantz, Barbara G. and Lawrence A. Fleischman, Executive Director of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. “Not only are we thrilled that this partnership will lead to a free and innovative laboratory where our theater archives will inspire new work, but we are also thrilled to be part of the historic collaboration between David Rockwell and Harvey Fierstein.”

Fierstein and Rockwell have a friendship that spans more than two decades. Rockwell designed the Tony Award-nominated set for Hairspray in 2002 for which Fierstein won Best Actor in a Musical. Then in 2013, Rockwell designed another Tony-nominated set for Kinky Boots, for which Fierstein received a Tony nomination for Best Book of a Musical.

The Harvey Fierstein Theater Lab will be an immersive learning environment inside the theater archive on film and tape. Creating a safe space for risk and artistic exploration, the Lab will invite the next generation of theater artists to see themselves as part of the canon, learning and leaving their mark alongside those who came before. Designed for a high level of flexibility, the Lab’s modern black box design will facilitate a range of activities, from class visits, screenings and workshops to rehearsals, readings and recordings, in an acoustically isolated space.

David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group LAB are designing a fully integrated 770 square foot environment that includes a suite of tools, including modular action blocks, moveable work surfaces, projection screen and video visualization equipment. high-tech design, integrated into the walls. Showcasing the library’s resources, the entire TOFT collection will also be available at the touch of a button, offering artists and educators the opportunity to not only read the words of the playwrights who came before them, but also to enter the worlds they created.

Theater students and creators of all ages will be invited to use these tools to transform the Lab into the ultimate stage partner – a responsive performance space serving multiple needs and uses.


The Performing Arts Library is dedicated to improving access to its rich archive of dance, theatre, music and sound recordings, in order to amplify all voices and support the creative process. As one of the New York Public Library’s renowned research centers and one of the world’s largest collections dedicated exclusively to the performing arts, our mission is to amplify all voices and all of our collections. Currently, the Library of Performing Arts collection comprises over 8 million items, notable for their extraordinary range and diversity, from 11th century music to 20th century manuscripts to hip dance -hop contemporary. The library is also well known for documenting live theatre, dance and music and is home to the Theater on Film and Tape Archive, which houses over 8,000 recordings of live Broadway and Off-Broadway productions.


Based in New York with offices in Los Angeles and Madrid, Rockwell Group is an interdisciplinary architecture and design firm that emphasizes innovation and thought leadership in every project. Founded by David Rockwell, FAIA, and led by David and his partners Shawn Sullivan and Greg Keffer, the 250-person company merges performance and architecture to create extraordinary experiences and built environments around the world. A strong commitment to exploring and experimenting resulted in the formation of LAB at the Rockwell Group, an experience design and technology studio. Projects include the FUTURES exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building; 1 Hotel Toronto; Climate Pledge Arena (Seattle); Nobu hotels and restaurants worldwide; W Hotels worldwide; The Perelman, a new arts center in New York (Restaurant and Lobby Interior Architect); the 93rd Academy Awards; and Hopkins Student Center for Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore). David Rockwell’s latest book, DRAMA, was published by Phaidon in May 2021. Honors and recognition include the 2016 Tony Award for Best Scenic Design for She Loves Me; two Emmy Awards for Production Design for the Oscars (2021 and 2010); the AIANY President’s Award; the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award; and the Presidential Design Award. For more information, please visit

About Raymond A. Bentley

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