See the new $550M home for the New York Philharmonic, set to open in October

March 9, 2022

Looking East; Rendering: DBOX

Nearly two decades after the project was first proposed, the New York Philharmonic’s new state-of-the-art concert hall will open this October, two years ahead of schedule, officials announced Wednesday. The revamped David Geffen Hall aims to create a more intimate space, “a living room for New York City,” as a press release describes, by moving the audience closer to the stage and improving sightlines. Plus, the project fixes the hall’s poor acoustics and reduces the total number of seats by about 500. In addition to announcing the $550 million project was finishing on time, officials also released new renderings of the theater and public space.

The new David Geffen Hall; Rendering: Cicada co. and Diamond Schmitt Architects

In 2004, the Philharmonic announced plans to rebuild the hall starting in 2009. Construction delays and a swap of architects halted the project until 2015 when billionaire entertainment mogul David Geffen donated $100 million to the project.

While originally the project was going to be built in phases, Katherine Farley, the chair of the board of directors at Lincoln Center, said they were able to build through the pandemic, which closed Lincoln Center’s indoor spaces for 18 months, resulting in an early opening. Original plans, reported by 6sqft in 2019, said the new hall would be open in March 2024. It will now open this October.

“The new David Geffen Hall will be NYC’s cultural hub, teeming with excitement from early morning to late at night—a place where New Yorkers will drop by just to see what’s happening, knowing they will find welcoming public spaces offering dynamic free entertainment, food, fun, art and culture in addition to the superb performances of the NY Philharmonic,” Katherine Farley, chair of the board of directors at Lincoln Center, said.

“This project is a statement of faith in the future of culture in our city. We built through the pandemic because we knew New Yorkers needed jobs as much as they needed culture. We are so grateful to the vast numbers of people who helped make this vision come to life—partners, donors, trustees, staff, designers, engineers and builders. We look forward to welcoming everyone in October.”

The new David Geffen Hall; Rendering: Cicada co. and Diamond Schmitt Architects

The new David Geffen Hall; Rendering: Cicada co. and Diamond Schmitt Architects

The new theater was designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects to ensure a better concert-going experience. The number of seats has been reduced to 2,200 from 2,700 and the stage has moved forward by 25 feet, with the audience wrapped around the stage. This will bring the audience 30 percent closer to the performers, according to a press release.

The new space features natural beech wood walls, flower petal fabric seating, and firefly light fixtures. The theater will also have the flexibility to accommodate a variety of performances, like semi-staged opera, dance, film premiers, concerts, and more.

“When it opens this fall, the new theater will be transformational for the New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center, both in the intimacy that the redesigned hall offers, as well as the high degree of artistic flexibility permitted by the variable stage configurations,” said Gary McCluskie, Principal at Diamond Schmitt.

“The design’s surround hall approach honors the acoustic benefits of a shoebox, while embodying a new model of sound that maintains power, depth and intimacy in equal measures, and we can’t wait for audiences to experience it.”

The Grand Promenade; Rendering: DBOX

The Sidewalk Studio; Rendering: DBOX

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects designed the new public spaces, including a welcome center with a cafe, a lobby with a bar and concessions, and the “Sidewalk Studio,” a new venue for smaller-scale performances that will be visible from Broadway and used for community events and activities.

The hall’s “Grand Promenade” is an open and central space with a large black granite bar as the anchor. The first tier overlooks feature more bars and people-watching opportunities. More details about a new restaurant, patrons lounge, and “music box” are expected in the coming weeks.

“Our arts and culture don’t belong to a limited few but to all of us, and at Lincoln Center, we will all experience them,” Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement. “The New York Philharmonic has brought New Yorkers together through art for decades, and I can’t wait to open these doors to the public. This new facility will truly be a cultural home for all New Yorkers — offering tens of thousands of feet of public space, even if you aren’t catching a show.”

As Lincoln Center continued to work on the new David Geffen Hall, the institution last summer opened a huge green space on its famed Josie Robertson Plaza, a safe outdoor venue for performances and more during the pandemic. Designed by Mimi Lien, “The Green” featured a “grass-like recyclable, biobased SYNLawn material,” as 6sqft reported.


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