New Design for Geffen Hall

John Hill
3. December 2019
Image: Courtesy of Lincoln Center and New York Philharmonic

Four years after Heatherwick Studio and Diamond Schmitt Architects were selected to reimagine the home of the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center, a new design by a slightly different team has been unveiled.

Take two, if you will, is being designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners, with the former responsible for the concert hall and the latter designing the public spaces. Only two renderings were released when the announcement of the new design was made yesterday, so it's hard to fully grasp all the changes to the building designed by Max Abramovitz as one of three buildings overlooking Lincoln Center's central plaza.

In terms of public spaces, the lobby will double in size and open up on three sides to better connect to the campus that was renovated by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. A new media streaming wall in the lobby will enable performances to be shown live, a new "destination eatery" will be open during the day and after concerts, and a new welcome center will be located on Broadway to connect to that public thoroughfare. 

Also on Broadway, and visible in the rendering at top, will be The Sidewalk Studio, which will be a "home for educational, artistic, and community activities — a window into the performers and ideas that live on campus." Also visible in the rendering is the Lightwall that will wrap three sides at the top of the building; the fourth side on the north will be a canvas for site-specific installations while still respecting the original architecture by Abramovitz.

Image: Courtesy of Lincoln Center and New York Philharmonic

Inside the concert hall, the most dramatic change will be eliminating the proscenium and moving the stage forward 25 feet to create a "single-room" concept with the audience wrapping around the stage as illustrated in the rendering. Flexible seating will allow variable configurations, though the total seating will drop to 2,200 from 2,700. Improvements to ADA accessibility will be carried out in the process.

The redesigned David Geffen Hall is budgeted at $550 million and is expected to open in March 2024. Two closures, in mid-2022 and late-2023, will be enabled by prefabricating much of the new construction off-site, thus allowing the Hall to remain open for most of the next four years.

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