Pentagram and Projects Design Associates Reimagine New York's Quad Cinema

Pentagram and Projects Design Associates collaborated to modernize New York’s Quad Cinema. Photography by Tom Sibley.

A new way to go to the movies. So proclaimed the 1972 opening day ads of Quad Cinema, the first multiplex in New York. In the first years of the downtown institution, Paula Scher personally appreciated it as a haven for foreign films, documentaries, and arty flicks. “The place was never glamorous,” she writes. “But the movies were important.” Decades later, Scher, now partner at Pentagram, has created a contemporary identity for the cinema, collaborating with Projects Design Associates on the interior design. “The original footprint is the only thing that remains of the old space,” Projects Design Associates principal Martin Vahtra says. “Everything else was thoroughly modernized.”

Pentagram designed a custom typeface for the cinema’s new identity. Photography by Tom Sibley.

The sleek and sexy experience is announced by a custom aluminum marquee that projects the cinema’s new branded typeface. Inside, the lobby juxtaposes a row of black-and-gray vinyl seating against a swath of crimson. The concession desk and wall panels behind are powder-coated steel, buffed to a high gloss. “The desk, a collaboration between our firms, dominates the lobby with its bold shape, size, and color,” Vahtra says.

The custom marquee is aluminum. Photography by Tom Sibley.

Recurring throughout the 10,000-square-foot space are letterforms illuminated to evoke a screen inside a dark theater. On the ceilings of each theater is a large-scale space-defining custom LED fixture in the shape of a Q, U, A, or D. At the entry to the four theaters, a video wall composed of 32 monitors plays curated films as individual images or one large screen. “We wanted to reimagine the Quad for contemporary times with the hope that people will go back there on dates,” Scher writes. “If anyone does that anymore.”

On the ceiling of each of the four theaters, a letter was transformed into an LED ceiling fixture. Photography by Tom Sibley.

To grab a drink after a movie, there’s now the Quad bar, inspired by the idea of a community watering hole in the village’s heyday, playing host to local writers and artists. It’s the perfect spot to remember the past while appreciating the present.

The Quad bar. Photography by Tom Sibley.
The footprint is the only thing that remains from the original cinema. Photography by Tom Sibley.
New branded typeface is displayed throughout. Photography by Tom Sibley.
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