The New Glass at Lincoln Center

I am in the Lincoln Center area of Manhattan’s Upper West Side frequently. While I have always admired the cultural riches that are available in the structures in this complex, the architecture is a whole other matter. Ground was broken on May 14, 1959, so the complex just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Lincoln center was built in the 1960s, and the architecture is uninspiring, and much of the stonework has not held up well with time.

The center is in the midst of a renovation project, and with the newly opened Alice Tully Hall, at last there is an architecturally interesting structure in the complex. And glass is the key to the structure’s successful design.

The re-imagined hall, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with FXFowle Architects, is the first completed public component of the redevelopment of Lincoln Center’s 16-acre campus. The building features a striking new three-story-high glass-enclosed grand foyer, framed by the canopy of the adjacent Juilliard School’s cantilevered extension above, which assures the hall a highly visible new identity at Broadway and West 65th Street. The glass foyer and creation of a new sunken entrance plaza has transformed the structure into the liveliest and most visible public space at Lincoln Center.

As the press release from AP puts it, “At the world’s largest arts center, the word transparency has taken on a special meaning. A three-story high glass facade that looks on Broadway is the new face of Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, which opened after a $159 million, 22-month renovation.”

aliceblogpic2AP goes on to report, “Lincoln Center was built like a fortress, “with alienating blank walls, very much divorced from the fabric of the city,” said Elizabeth Diller of the Diller Scofidio + Renfro firm, which worked on the project with Sylvia Smith of FXFowle Architects. The see-through entrance sums up the feeling Lincoln Center is aiming for in the current transformation: a popular destination open to the neighborhood, hoping to draw visitors who may or may not be art lovers. They can sit in a cafe with a view of the lively urban landscape of people and cars passing by.”

The cafe, which seats 55, is wrapped by a multi-story glass curtainwall offering patrons expansive views and pedestrians a view into the cafe. According to officials at W&W Glass, Spring Valley, N.Y., the glazing contractor for the project, there are actually five different curtainwall types on the job with lots of custom glass and system types. Standing inside the façade, it is easy to see the complexity of the construction yet its clean lines give it a sophisticated appearance.

Turner Construction provided construction management services for the renovation including the 5,000 square foot, three-story glass lobby expansion.

If you find yourself in the area, stop by and take a look at the new Alice Tully Hall. Sit in the café and have a drink and look at an outstanding design and the glass that made it happen.