Following years of meticulous planning and outreach to local preservationists, Lincoln Center and the New York Philharmonic have unveiled a $550 million initiative to renovate and expand David Geffen Hall.
Located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the performing arts center was designed by architect Max Abramovitz and originally constructed in 1962. Minor renovations of the structure were completed in 1976 and again in 1992 to rectify long-standing acoustic problems within the hall. Both initiatives failed to fully address these issues.
The design effort was completed in collaboration by Diamond Schmitt Architects and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, along with expert acoustician Paul Scarbrough of Akustiks and theater designer Joshua Dachs of Fisher Dachs Associates.
“As a veteran of two major concert hall projects, I can say that the clear goals, the rigorous planning, and the actual design for the new David Geffen Hall give me confidence that this will be a singular success,” said New York Philharmonic president Deborah Borda. “The partnership we have formed with Lincoln Center is very real and very critical to all that is occurring.”
When complete, existing lobby spaces will double in size and include three new openings onto the Lincoln Center campus. The concert hall within will be redesigned under a “single-room concept” that eliminates the theater’s existing proscenium arch framing to allow for additional audience seating that wraps the main stage. The new framing incorporates a sculpted curvilinear design.
While overall seating capacity will be reduced by 500, leaving a total of 2,200 seats, the design team has reoriented seating incline to both improve sight lines and acoustics. The hall will also offer improved ADA access.
Scope of work also includes a new dining area curated by Union Square Hospitality Group, a media streaming wall that will show concerts and events in real time, and “The Sidewalk Studio,” visible from the street on the corner of 65th Street and Broadway, which will serve as a venue for educational, artistic, and community activities.
The new hall will open in March 2024, with two short closings. The first closing will be May 2022 through October 2022, and the second closing from May 2023 through February 2024. During these times, the New York Philharmonic will perform at other venues including Carnegie Hall and New York City Center.
“My co-chairman Oscar Tang and I are thrilled that our great orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, will finally get the home that it deserves,” said co-chairman of New York Philharmonic Peter W. May. “It is so inspiring to see this compelling vision for the future now take off thanks to the unprecedented collaboration between the New York Philharmonic Board and the Lincoln Center Board led by Katherine Farley, as well as the current leadership of both institutions.”