When envisioning the redesign of David Geffen Hall, home to the city’s symphony orchestra, leaders wanted “to create the instrument the New York Philharmonic deserves,” Lincoln Center’s President Henry Timms said during a preview of the space today.
At first glance, it appears they achieved their goal, transforming the building into a state-of-the-art hub for classical music and a more welcoming space for New Yorkers. The renovated David Geffen Hall will officially open on Saturday, October 8, after completing a $550 million renovation two years early. Opening weekend will feature a pay-as-you-wish performance of Etienne Charles’ new work, “San Juan Hill: A New York Story,” exploring the story of the immigrant communities that populated the land in and around the Lincoln Center area.
Here’s a sneak peek at what to expect from the new theater.
A more intimate theater experience
The Wu Tsai Theater, with its red and blue rose petal design, welcomes visitors with a dramatic entrance. The petal motif meant to evoke joy and possibility continues throughout the theater with a pinkish petal design covering the theater’s 2,200 seats.
The theater used to hold 2,700 people, but cutting those 500 seats allowed designers to extend the stage, add seating behind and beside the orchestra, and bring the musicians 30% closer to every listener. The sight lines are now better for everybody.
Glimmering firefly-themed light fixtures raise and lower above the stage as a nod to musical notes. The glowing lights add to the warm tones in the wood and bronze accents.
The reduced seating will also help with acoustics in the space, whether it’s used for classical music, a dance performance, a film festival or even a rock concert.
The theater fuses both art and science, bringing together cozy wood tones along with rippled wood panels to provide acoustical balance.
A much larger lobby
The lobby has doubled in size and now features two mid-century pillars that were once hidden. A 50-foot video wall will livestream every concert for free, so anybody can sit in the lobby and watch.
“Everything is meant to invite people in,” Deborah Borda, president and CEO of the New York Philharmonic said.
A storage area turned sidewalk studio
A piece of prime real estate near Broadway was long hidden away as an office and storage area, but it’s now been turned into a room with large windows that organizers are calling the sidewalk studio, a flexible performance space for 110 people. In the future, it could also hold kids’ events, yoga or live acoustic music.
A new restaurant and bar
In addition to bars/cafes in the lobby, a new restaurant called Tatiana will open in November. Led by chef Kwame Onwuachi, a native New Yorker from the Bronx and visionary chef, Tatiana will explore Afro-Caribbean flavors on the menu.
It may sound pedestrian, but being able to find the bathroom quickly during intermission really does matter. This design has doubled the number of toilets so there’s less time waiting in line and more time back in the theater enjoying the music.
Speaking of enjoying the music, mark your calendar for two celebratory galas held on October 26 and October 28, plus a free open house weekend on October 29 and 30 featuring hundreds of artists animating the entire hall with performances, participatory activities and family events.