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Foster Designing New Globe Theater on New York’s Governor’s Island

As the Hearst Tower nears completion in Midtown Manhattan, Foster and Partners will be designing its second major project in New York, the New Globe Theater on Governor’s Island.

The $78 million project will be a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Globe in London. Containing room for 1,200 spectators, distributed through a standing section and three upper circles, the theater-in-the-round will be located inside the historic Castle Williams, built in 1811 on the northwest corner of the island.


Image courtesy Foster and Partners


Foster & Partners Deputy Chairman David Nelson says the firm will restore the castle to its original form, removing evidence of a prison, the structure’s most recent program. The castle’s bright red sandstone, he notes, will become a centerpiece to the theater’s entrance. The Globe’s final design, meanwhile, will likely include either metal or concrete for the theater itself, and a glass wall between the theater and the castle. “We decided to stay away from medieval timber and move toward the modern. It’s a wonderful, liberating thing,” he says.

The effort is part of a larger scheme for Governors Island, which was transferred to New York State and New York City in 2003. Early possibilities for further development include park space, environmental centers, educational and not-for-profit organizations, arts and cultural organizations, conferencing and hospitality , and heritage Tourism and Entertainment. Future, plans, adds Nelson, will include ferry strategies to help people get to the island —which boasts stunning views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty—in about five to ten minutes.

Sam Lubell