Reimagination of David Geffen Hall Accelerated

  Last modified on June 15th, 2021

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the New York Philharmonic have announced the acceleration of the comprehensive renovation of David Geffen Hall, designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, now scheduled to reopen to the public in Fall 2022, nearly two years earlier than previously announced.

Katherine Farley, Chair of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, says “The goal of accelerating this project is to invest in New York City at a time when we all have a part to play in its recovery. I want to pay tribute to the many people who have supported bringing this effort forward. In doing so, we are creating not just one of the world’s best cultural venues, but a space that welcomes our broader community.”


Lincoln Center says the acceleration of this project will boost New York City’s economic recovery by creating jobs and opportunities, with the renovation generating more than $600 million in project-related economic activity through construction into Fall 2022. This includes an estimated 6,000 jobs throughout the City and State, of which 3,000 are construction jobs.

There will be a minimum 30 percent construction participation by Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises, 40 percent workforce inclusion from underrepresented communities, and a workforce development program established with area officials and community members to create additional full-time job opportunities for local residents.

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To date, $500 million, or over 90%, of the $550 million project budget has been raised, the vast majority from private sources. First Republic Bank is providing bridge financing support.

The New York Philharmonic will perform for the 2021–22 season, with full details to be announced in June. To accommodate the continuous construction timeline, the Orchestra will perform in several New York City locations, which will be announced with the full schedule at that time.

The design team consists of Diamond Schmitt Architects on the theater; Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects on all of the public spaces; acoustician Paul Scarbrough of Akustiks; and theater designer Joshua Dachs of Fisher Dachs Associates. Turner Construction Company is serving as construction manager, and the firms Kohler Ronan and Thornton Tomasetti are providing engineering services.

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Diamond Schmitt’s design for the new theater introduces a “single-room” concept, eliminating the proscenium and moving the stage forward by 25 feet, with audience seating wrapped around it.

David Geffen Hall Diamond Schmitt Architects

Photo credit: Diamond Schmitt Architects

Photo credit: Diamond Schmitt Architects

The new theater is designed to support a wide range of performance initiatives. Natural wood and curvilinear forms create an immersive experience that transforms the room into a contemporary, sculpted design. Seating capacity will be reduced by 500 seats to 2,200, and a steeper rake (incline) will be added to the orchestra level, significantly improving acoustics and sightlines. It will also have improved accessibility for guests, staff, and artists with disabilities.

David Geffen Hall Behind Orchestra

Photo credit: Diamond Schmitt Architects

The new David Geffen Hall will also have state-of-the-art HVAC systems, filtration and air purifying systems, antimicrobial technology integrated into select surfaces, and a number of additional improvements developed using recommendations from a variety of sources including the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), and ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers).


David Geffen Hall’s main lobby will double in size and open up on three sides to connect with the campus, and a new Welcome Center on Broadway will offer a portal to Lincoln Center for the public. At the core of the new lobby will be a media streaming wall, which will show concerts and events for free in real time as well as other digital material.

David Geffen Hall Media Wall

Photo credit: TOD WILLIAMS BILLIE TSIEN Architects | Partners

The reconfigured and reenergized Grand Promenade will create one of the largest gathering spaces at a performance facility in New York City, with ability to welcome more than 1,000 people for an event. During performances, there will be expanded intermission seating and bar/food service, including enhanced access to the terrace and new promontories overlooking the main level.

A dynamic new addition is The Sidewalk Studio, visible from the street on the corner of 65th Street and Broadway, which will be a home for educational, artistic, and community activities — a window into the performers and ideas that live on campus.

David Geffen Hall New Exterior

c/o Lincoln Center

A “Lightwall” will wrap around three sides of the interior top of the building, creating space for dynamic mood and architectural lighting. Eleven thousand square feet of office space will be located behind the “Lightwall,” and the entire North Façade of the building will be reimagined as a “canvas” for site-specific works, honoring Lincoln Center’s long tradition in the visual arts. All of this will be accomplished while respecting the original and iconic Max Abramovitz building exterior.

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  1. Jay April 5, 2021

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