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Lincoln Center scraps $500 million renovation plan

October 22, 2017

The long-planned redesign of David Geffen Hall (formerly Avery Fisher Hall), reported to cost around $500 million and take two years to complete, has been scrapped after construction design teams said they could not guarantee that the overhaul, which called for lowering the auditorium to the plaza level, would not infringe on a third season. Debora L. Spar, president of Lincoln Center, and Deborah Borda, president and CEO of the Philharmonic, explained that while no design team has been chosen yet, the new approach will be “less monumental and more incremental.” Potential fixes they mention are decidedly less heavy-handed than the initial plan, including moving the stage out further in the auditorium as is already done during the Mostly Mozart festival and reducing the number of seats to give the hall a more intimate feel.

Designed by Max Abramovitz of Harrison & Abramovitz and opened in 1962, the hall underwent its first interior renovation in the 1970s, led by Philip Johnson. Sound quality problems persisted, however, and since 1999, the Hall’s main tenant, New York Philharmonic, has been citing an “urgent need” for improvements. A $100 million gift from David Geffen reignited efforts to update the space. London firm Heatherwick Studio and Diamond Schmitt Architects of Toronto were chosen for the original redesign plans. DOCOMOMO NY/Tri expressed some concerns https://www.docomomo-nytri.org/2016/01/18/architect-chosen-for-lincoln-centers-geffen-hall-renovation/ over this choice as well as a sculpture of “Orpheus and Apollo” that has been removed from the lobby since 2014. Geffen has stated he is supportive of the change in plans and his gift will remain.

Lincoln Center Scraps a $500 Million Geffen Hall Renovation,” New York Times, October 3, 2017.

“The Over-the-Top Plans for Redoing Geffen Hall Are History. Good.” vulture.com, October 6, 2017.

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