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News January 2016

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Architect chosen for Lincoln Center’s Geffen Hall renovation

January 18, 2016

The New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center management have selected the London firm Heatherwick Studio and Diamond Schmitt Architects of Toronto for the long-planned interior redesign of David Geffen Hall (formerly Avery Fisher Hall). While now a recognized name in the design world, Heatherwick Studio, led by Thomas Heatherwick, is a surprising choice as the firm has limited experience with major cultural works. Currently their most familiar work to New Yorkers may be the design for Barry Diller’s controversial proposal for Pier 55. Heatherwick replaces Pritzker-winning architect Norman Foster and also beat out Diller Scofidio + Renfro, who have designed most of the recent renovations at Lincoln Center, including Alice Tully Hall. 

Geffen Hall was designed by Max Abramovitz of Harrison & Abramovitz, and opened in 1962. It underwent its first interior overhaul in the 1970s, led by Philip Johnson, to address acoustic problems. The current renovation will again try to improve the acoustics by reconfiguring the auditorium and will also update the common areas, while leaving the shell of the building as is. It remains to be seen whether the 190-foot-long sculpture “Orpheus and Apollo,” commissioned for the lobby by Abramovitz from the artist Richard Lippold will be reinstalled. It was “removed temporarily for maintenance and conservation” in 2014 and preservationists fear it may not return.

Geffen Hall Redesign Team is Chosen,” New York Times, December 10, 2015.

David Geffen Hall (formerly Avery Fisher Hall) at Lincoln Center, Max Abramovitz, 1962.