Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center is getting a $550 million makeover

A rendering of the new concert hall. (Courtesy New York Philharmonic/Lincoln Center)

Updates will be made to the concert hall and public spaces in the building

David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center will undergo a $550 million reconstruction project, including remodeling the concert hall and the building’s public spaces, with the goal of creating more intimacy and better concert experiences.

Under the new design, the concert hall will have a “single-room” concept, with wrap-around seating around the orchestra. Sight lines will be improved by restoring the original 1962 steeper incline at the orchestra level, according to the announcement today at Geffen Hall by Lincoln Center and the New York Philharmonic.

The hall’s stage will also be moved forward 25 feet, making all seats closer to the stage with the goal of creating more intimacy and better acoustics.

Gary McCluskie, of Diamond Schmitt Architects, presenting part of the plan at Geffen Hall. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

 

Other acoustic improvements will include lowering the seat capacity from 2,738 to 2,200, restructuring side walls for better sound, and adding an adjustable canopy over the stage. The stage area will have other adjustable features, to alter based on the type of performance being staged, including lighting, rigging and motorized lifts.

The current concert hall has about 30 percent of its seats over 100 feet from the stage, and that number will go down to below 10 percent of the seats, according to Paul Scarbrough, of the acoustical consultant company Akustiks, who is working on the project.

“That is going to transform the concert going experience for the audience,” Scarbrough said at the announcement. “You’re going to feel as if you’re an active, joyful participant.”

Changes to the building’s public spaces include doubling the lobby size and creating a media streaming wall that will livestream shows. There will be more food and beverage options, which will be open during the day and after performances. The Grand Promenade on the second floor will be redesigned with more intermission seating and food, and new promontories overlooking the main level. More bathrooms will also be added.

The current lobby, above, will double in size under the new plan. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

 

“This project is all about greater connection,” said Henry Timms, president and CEO of Lincoln Center. “The new concert hall will unite performers and audiences; the dynamic public spaces will allow our communities – from visiting schools to concertgoers wanting to stay for a drink—to connect with each other. And the whole project re-sets how we engage with the outside world.”

While the building’s exterior will mostly stay the same, there will be some additions, including a Lightwall that will wrap around three sides of the building and provide different mood lighting. A Sidewalk Studio will be visible from the street at Broadway and 65th Street, and feature artistic, educational and other community activities. And the building’s north façade will become a canvas to feature various commissioned works of art.

A rendering of the new exterior at 65th Street and Broadway, which will feature a Sidewalk Studio that hosts various activities. (Courtesy New York Philharmonic/Lincoln Center)

 

Officials said they have raised $360 million so far of the $550 million budget. The new Geffen Hall is scheduled to open in 2024, and there will be two closings during construction, one in 2022 from May to October, and the other from May 2023 to February 2024.

During the second closure, the New York Philharmonic will perform in other city venues, including New York City Center and Carnegie Hall.

Gabe Herman