David Rockwell Makes a Big Impact on Broadway’s Smallest Theater

A look inside the newly-renovated Helen Hayes Theater.

Architect David Rockwell is no stranger to theaters. His firm, Rockwell Group, is behind notable designs such as The Dolby Theater, where the Oscars are held, and the new Anthem on the Wharf in Washington, D.C., and has done stage sets for Broadway shows like Lucky Guy, Catch Me If You Can, and Hairspray. But it’s Rockwell’s personal passion for the medium that fueled the recent renovation of the Helen Hayes Theater, a 589-seat house that happens to be Broadway’s smallest space. He approached the project not just as an architect and set designer but as a theatre-goer and a patron. In doing so, he updated the 106-year-old space—both visually and functionally— without sacrificing the character it possessed when it first opened over a century ago. Here, he speaks about modernization of the Helen Hayes.

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