£600m New York arts centre redesign

New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is under – going a major reconstruction, part of a $1.2bn (£616m) project conceived by US multidisciplinary studio Diller Scofidio & Renfro.

New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is under – going a major reconstruction, part of a $1.2bn (£616m) project conceived by US multidisciplinary studio Diller Scofidio & Renfro.

The centre, built in the 1940s as part of an effort to regen – erate New York’s Upper West Side, will now be opened up to the surrounding area.

Working holistically with a raft of theatre, audio and light – ing design specialists, including US design consultancies Penta – gram Design and 2×4, Diller Scofidio & Renfro is transform – ing the centre’s concert halls, revamp ing its auditorium and theatre lobby, as well as exten – ding its education facilities, improving rehearsal studios and enhanc ing public spaces.

Diller Scofidio & Renfro part – ner Elizabeth Diller explains that the team is taking an approach involving ‘total dissolution’ of the divisions between landscape architecture, inter – iors, information design and urban design categories. ‘The fundamental DNA, however, manifests itself on large and small scales through out the project,’ says Diller.

Besides the architectural fea tures of the centre, the information and signage sys – tem, or ‘infoscape’, through out the 6.5ha site has been a maj or design feat, according to Diller.

Different displays on the campus, some site-specific, but controlled centrally, use a template that can have advance information inserted into it, as well as being able to use realtime information.

The resulting system, featuring ‘hours of artistically designed and produced content’ by US consultancy Imaginary Forces, means that programme and event informa – tion can be brought ‘to the street’, and can be changed and updated with text and imagery.

There are very few freestanding signs, with most integrated into the building, says Diller. Textual information rolls off buildings and walls, while scrolling LEDs light up staircases. Vertical networked displays 15m apart feature cascading and spatially moving information. ‘It gives us a great palette and a 213m-long canvas to work with,’ she says.

Pentagram Design is working on digital graphics, based on the idea of bringing a campus map to life, in the centre’s Harmony Atrium, while 2×4 is working on graphics in the Alice Tully Hall, Center Pro menade and Juillard School. The same software and hard ware are being used throughout.

The graphics, says Diller, are based on a matrix that uses two levels of contrast and scale, so that the smaller the font is, the brighter it will be. Larger fonts will have less contrast. ‘It will vary from a low-contrast, etched glass effect to high-contrast illumination,’ she says. ‘It will be all neutral, from either the [contextual] material itself or white light,’ she adds.


• One of the world’s best-known performing arts centres
• Based across approximately 6ha in New York City
• Comprises 12 resident organisations including the New York City Ballet, the School of American Ballet, New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera and the Film Society of the Lincoln Center
• Receives about five million visitors per year
• Generates about $1.5bn (£770m) for the New York economy

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