This past month, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the New York Philharmonic announced that David Geffen Hall’s renovation would be completed earlier than expected, reopening to the public in the fall of 2022 rather than the original date of March 2024. A long-time supporter of the Lincoln Center and New York Philharmonic, Frederica Wald is one of many music enthusiasts overjoyed by this recent news. Below, Frederica Wald will discuss the David Geffen Hall renovation, the hall’s history, and the hall’s significance to the New York City music community.
Formerly known as Avery Fisher Hall, David Geffen Hall is one of New York City’s premier concert halls and the home of the New York Philharmonic, one of America’s leading orchestras. The hall is located in New York City’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts complex in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Since first opening in 1962, the David Geffen Hall has hosted a number of visiting orchestras and performers ranging from the London Symphony Orchestra to Miles Davis.
The hall has undergone several renovations; however, in 2019, Lincoln Center announced plans to renovate the hall both acoustically and aesthetically by removing over 500 seats, adding balcony seating to the hall that would wrap around the entire length of the hall, and moving the stage forward and making it tiered. Construction was originally set to begin in 2022, with the hall reopening in March of 2024. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the president of the New York Philharmonic, Deborah Borda, announced that Lincoln Center would begin renovations on the hall immediately, with the hall set to reopen to the public in the fall of 2022. The acceleration of the renovation hopes to boost New York City’s economic recovery by offering 6,000 new jobs and generating more than $600 million in project-related activity.
The David Geffen hall’s new design is based on a “single-room” concept which will eliminate the proscenium, move the stage forward by 25 feet, and reduce the hall’s seat capacity by 500 seats. Additionally, the hall will include advanced HVAC systems, filtration and air-purifying capabilities, and antimicrobial technology. The hall’s design team consists primarily of Diamond Schmitt Architects, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects Partners, and Fisher Dachs Associates with acoustics led by Paul Scarbrough of Akustics. Lincoln Center has shown a commitment to diversity throughout the renovation and employs a minimum of 30 percent minority and women-owned construction businesses, 40 percent workforce inclusion of underrepresented communities, and has developed a workforce program to build additional full-time job opportunities for New York City local residents.