History of Abrons Arts Center Architecture and Value Statement

Originally named the “Arts For Living Center,” Abrons Arts Center is widely regarded as a case study for the role architecture can have in facilitating access to the arts for a diverse community. Breaking ground as an extension to the Henry Street Settlement’s Playhouse during New York City’s historic 1970’s financial crisis, the Center was designed by architect Lo-Yi Chan of the firm Prentice & Chan, Ohlhausen in collaboration with an intergenerational cohort of local residents. Together, they developed a design for a new kind of urban arts center for the 20th century⁠—one that would be of service to a wide array of needs and interests of local and visiting communities.

Today, discourse around accessibility has necessarily advanced, and as a community-based cultural organization, Abrons is committed to evolving alongside our neighbors. While radically inclusive in its design when the building first opened, we acknowledge that there are ways that our building is challenging to navigate for individuals with a range of mobility and access needs. We are committed to expanding upon our institution’s legacy of inclusivity by providing clear and welcoming points of entry for disabled communities to utilize our spaces. We also acknowledge that access extends beyond architecture, and we are committed to curating programming that is inclusive of the needs of deaf, hard of hearing, blind, low vision, and neurodiverse communities.

This accessibility information sheet serves as a guide for existing resources and will be continually reviewed and updated as we strive to create a more inclusive space. Abrons’ commitment to accessibility is a work in progress and we welcome input from our community members so we learn and evolve our capabilities and understanding of needs.

Please email [email protected] with your feedback and suggestions.

Entry Points

Front Desk

Playhouse Theater Entry Point

Other Entry Points

Gallery Spaces

Closed captioning is provided for all digital artworks featuring spoken word and ambient sounds. Captioning is done predominantly in English and in other languages when possible. Curatorial statements and checklists are available in English for each exhibition. Some exhibitions will have additional translated materials.

Content advisories are published and announced for works as needed. Signage and notifications are published on our website, at ticket purchase, and at points of entry.

The Culpeper Gallery

The Main Gallery

The Upper Gallery

The Garden

Theater Spaces

ASL interpretation is available for select performances and exhibitions and will be noted on event pages and ticket pages.

Assistive listening devices and hearing aid loops are available for all performances in the Playhouse Theater, Underground and Experimental theaters. They are not available for some events taking place in the Amphitheater. Visitors can request these devices at the box office and will need to exchange an ID such as a driver’s license or passport to receive the device. At the end of the program, visitors should return to the box office to return the device and collect their ID.

Content advisories are published and announced for events as needed. Signage and notifications are published on our website, at points of entry, and emails are sent to ticket-holders in advance of the show.

The Playhouse Theater

The Underground Theater

The Experimental Theater

The Amphitheater

Dressing Rooms


There are ADA-compliant, all-gender bathrooms located throughout Abrons.

Ground Floor

Playhouse Theater

Underground Theater and Garden

Experimental Theater and Amphitheater

Second Floor

Third Floor

Studios 1-4

Education Spaces

Our education spaces are located on the second and third floors and are accessible via an elevator as well as stairs. Entry is via the front doors of the building and through our Garden entrance located on Willett Street which has a level pathway. Studios 1-4 are only accessible via seven steps from the third floor and this space may not be accessible to visitors with mobility issues or for those who use a wheelchair.

Studio Spaces

Studio Rentals: G05, 206, 209, 302, 314

Dance Studios 1, 2, 3, 4

Sensitivities to be Aware Of

Abrons Arts Center is a multi-use space and is not a scent-free environment. Abrons has fluorescent and LED lighting. Certain studios and offices can be adjusted to meet individual needs upon request. Strobe lights, fog/haze, and other special effects may be used in certain events or performances. Warnings for effects specific to an event or performance will be written in programs, posted outside the performance space, and stated audibly before an event begins.


There are wayfinding signs throughout Abrons Arts Center and at the front desk patron services can assist in navigating the space. Signage is predominantly in English with some translations in Spanish, Mandarin, and braille. All restrooms have braille signage outside the door.

Digital and In-Person Accessibility Features

Some of our online events feature live ASL interpreters and/or live captioning, which will be indicated on event and ticketing pages. If you are hoping to attend an event and would like us to engage the services of an ASL interpreter or audio describer, please let us know with as much notice as possible and we will do our best to provide these services.

All videos online are captioned. All digital newsletters and social media content is designed with digital accessibility at the fore.

If you have any questions or access needs, please contact [email protected].

In the Case of an Emergency

Wheelchair Users and Mobility Disabilities: In the event of an emergency, if the visitor(s) cannot exit the building via stairs, staff members will escort them to a fire stairwell or the nearest street exit, whichever is closer, and wait with them until the fire department, paramedics, or other authorities arrive and can help escort them out of the building.

Hard of Hearing and Deaf People: In case of a fire, fire alarms will flash bright white lights until the emergency is over. For all other emergencies, follow the visual directions of venue staff or signage to the nearest exit.

Blind and Low Vision People: In case of a fire, fire alarms will sound loudly until the emergency is over. For all other emergencies, follow the spoken directions of venue staff and request guidance to the nearest exit.

At all times staff will do their best to clearly communicate what is known and what patrons should do next to be safe.