After years of meticulous planning and construction, the renovated David Geffen Hall is now open at Lincoln Center and will serve as the permanent home for the New York Philharmonic and its schedule of programming for the 2022-2023 season.
In addition to principal donations from American entertainment and production mogul David Geffen, contributions from billionaire philanthropist and Lincoln Center board member Clara Wu Tsai helped work finish nearly two years ahead of schedule. In honor of Tsai’s contributions, the main auditorium of the hall will debut as the Wu Tsai Theater.
Designed in collaboration by Diamond Schmitt Architects and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, the Wu Tsai Theater is described as a warm, curvilinear hall offering a more welcoming and intimate audience experience. Although there are 500 fewer seats, for a final count of 2,200, the venue’s improved design has enhanced concert hall acoustics and maximizes sightlines of the main stage.
The new seats wrap around the theater and are positioned closer to the main stage, which is also pushed 25 feet forward. Additional improvements include enhanced ADA access for mobility-limited patrons, more bathrooms, a new lobby and surrounding lounge areas, a new “Grand Promenade” on the second floor, and a more harmonious layout of hallways, stairwells, open spaces, and access points.
“A huge community came together around the idea of a bright future at a dark time for our city,” said Katherine Farley, chair of the board of directors at Lincoln Center. “Now, we are able to celebrate an economic engine, a vibrant creative hub, and a cultural home for both the New York Philharmonic and all New Yorkers.”
Total project costs came in around $600 million, the vast majority of which was financed through private donations.
“This is great for Lincoln Center, the New York Philharmonic, and the arts,” said David Geffen. “It is so much more than a renovation: it is a true re-imagination. This new hall is not only about great music, it is also about creating a welcoming destination for everyone in our community.”
The opening will be celebrated throughout the month of October and include the World Premiere performances of San Juan Hill: A New York Story by composer Etienne Charles, commissioned by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts for the New York Philharmonic, and performed by Etienne Charles and Creole Soul alongside the orchestra, conducted by music director Jaap van Zweden.
There is also a vibrant collection of site-specific visual installations by artists Nina Chanel Abney and Jacolby Satterwhite, meant to celebrate New York City’s the eclectic cultural community and the diverse future of Lincoln Center.