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Lincoln Center the green
Rendering: Timothy Leung / Design by Mimi Lien

Lincoln Center is transforming its iconic plaza into an expansive park

The Green will have a snack bar, library and pop-up performances all summer long.

Shaye Weaver

Lincoln Center is about to go green.

The iconic performing arts center is turning its Josie Robertson Plaza into a temporary park complete with a snack bar, library and pop-up performances all summer long.

"The Green" will span about 14,000 square feet around the Revson Fountain with grass-like material by SYNLawn New York that's recyclable and sourced from U.S. farmers. In the northeast corner, visitors can grab a snack or head over to a small book kiosk run by the New York Public Library. And of course, The Green will be the "centerpiece" of Restart Stages, a program of pop-up performances, from music to dance, and a series of family performances and workshops.

The new park-like area shows curved, grassy slopes and ample space for sunbathing and relaxing. 

Set designer and MacArthur Genius grantee Mimi Lien is being commissioned by Lincoln Center to design the space and she's come up with something inviting for all. The SYNLawn, ramps and curved pieces are designed with accessibility in mind and even implements cane detection for the blind in its architecture.

"When invited to consider how the physical space of Josie Robertson Plaza could be reenvisioned to be a more inclusive and inviting environment, I immediately thought that by changing the ground surface from hard paving stones with no seating to a material like grass, suddenly anyone would be able to sit anywhere," she said.

the green lincoln center
Rendering: Timothy Leung / Design by Mimi Lien

In the past, people walked through the plaza to get to various performances or visit the fountain, but now, the plaza will be a place of respite.

"I dreamt of making it a space of inhabitation, of pleasure, and of rest," Lien said. "I wanted to make a place where you could lie on a grassy slope and read a book all afternoon. Get a coffee and sit in the sun. Bring your babies and frolic in the grass. Have a picnic lunch with co-workers. I hope that this curved grass surface will feel like an embrace and an expanse at the same time, and will reimagine the Plaza as a site of social infrastructure, like a town green — a place to gather, a common ground."

Once Restart Stages is over SYNLawn New York will upcycle its grassy material to new homes and playgrounds for at-risk youth in upstate New York.

Restart Stages kicked off on April 7 with a special performance for healthcare workers and will continue through September with a varied programming slate, including a concert and cabaret series by the Lincoln Center Theater, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's annual summer evening concerts, dance workshops led by the New York City Ballet and film screenings by Film at Lincoln Center. It'll create 10 outdoor performance and rehearsal spaces as well at other civic venues.

It is being developed in coordination with NY PopsUp, part of Governor Cuomo’s New York Arts Revival, in a partnership to help extend the reach of the initiative far beyond Lincoln Center’s campus.

The Green will be open May 10 through September 2021, 9am-midnight.

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