Heatherwick Studio to lead US$500m redesign of New York concert hall

by Kim Megson | 15 Dec 2015

Following a two-year competition involving more than 100 leading architecture and design firms, Heatherwick Studio and Diamond Schmitt Architects have been selected to reimagine and renovate a concert hall for New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

The duo have been tasked with transforming the centre’s largest hall – originally designed by Max Abramovitz and opened in 1962 – into a 21st-century symphonic concert venue “where the architecture is at one with music”.

The building will be the home of the acclaimed New York Philharmonic Orchestra and will host performances from world-class artists. It will also provide space for community workshops and events and provide a permanent location for Legends at Lincoln Center: the Performing Arts Hall of Fame.

Construction is expected to begin in 2019 at an estimated preliminary cost of US$500m (€454m, £330m). Acoustic design firm Akustiks and theatre designers Fisher Dachs are also involved in the project.

“The New York Philharmonic creates some of the most incredible music in the world, so it deserves a world-class concert hall,” said Thomas Heatherwick, founder and principal of Heatherwick Studio.

“Together with Diamond Schmitt Architects, we are excited to make this special institution and its classical music even more connected to New Yorkers and the audiences of the future.”

Donald Schmitt, principal of Diamond Schmitt Architects, added: “We will design the new hall to become a crossroads of performance, rehearsal, learning and arts innovation, creating a welcoming atmosphere for the public.”

Lincoln Center chair Katherine Farley said: "The inspiring combination of Heatherwick and Diamond Schmitt will bring contemporary design excellence, respect for the historic architecture of the hall, and extensive experience creating acoustically superb performance halls.”

The hall has been criticised in the past by music critics for its poor acoustics and lack of atmosphere. Plans to redevelop the venue have been mooted since 2002, when Foster + Partners won a competition to lead the renovation, but have never been realised.

To help raise money for the latest project, the Lincoln Center auctioned the naming rights for the venue – which had been called the Avery Fisher Hall since the 1970s after one of the centre’s benefactors. Music and media executive David Geffen donated US$100m (€90.8m, £66m), and the venue now carries his name. Local reports claim the Fisher family were paid US$15m (€13.6m, £9.9m) in compensation.

Ongoing Heatherwick Studio projects include two mixed-use developments in Shanghai and a major retail quarter in King’s Cross, London. It is also designing Pier 55 – a US$170m (€154m, £112m) floating park on the Hudson River.

Diamond Schmitt Architects has designed more than forty performing arts venues worldwide, including the New Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia and the Maison Symphonique de Montréal in Canada. The firm is currently designing the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts & Science in Lubbock, Texas.

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Following a two-year competition involving more than 100 leading architecture and design firms, Heatherwick Studio and Diamond Schmitt Architects have been selected to reimagine and renovate a concert hall for New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The duo have been tasked with transforming the centre’s largest hall – originally designed by Max Abramovitz and opened in 1962 – into a 21st-century symphonic concert venue “where the architecture is
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The new-look venue will be the home of the acclaimed New York Philharmonic Orchestra and will host performances from world-class artists / D Ramey Logan
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