Work in progress on the north plaza of Lincoln Center, as seen through the windows of the Vivian Beaumont Theater. (Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

Amid the chorus of accolades that have greeted Lincoln Center’s continuing physical transformation — in particular, the new Alice Tully Hall by Diller Scofidio & Renfro — a few discordant voices are raising an alarm with worries that Lincoln Center may be changing too much.

Having lost the battle against transforming the campus’s north plaza in front of the Vivian Beaumont Theater, laid out in 1965 by the celebrated landscape architect Dan Kiley, some preservationists say they fear that the rest of the $1.2 billion redevelopment project could end up compromising the original 1960s composition of Lincoln Center as a whole.

These advocates say they are especially worried about Lincoln Center Theater’s plans to put an experimental theater on the roof of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, a building designed by Gordon Bunschaft, the architect of Lever House and other Modernist classics. They also wonder about the fate of Avery Fisher Hall, designed by Max Abramovitz, where the New York Philharmonic was originally going to limit its plans to create a new auditorium but has yet to commit to a course of action. And they say they have yet to be informed about Lincoln Center’s plans for Damrosch Park, the green space on the south side, also designed by Kiley.

“It feels like they’re just chipping away at pieces of Lincoln Center,” said Nina Rappaport, the chairwoman of Docomomo New York/Tri-State, an organization that works to protect distinctive Modernist buildings. The campus, she said, was designed as a whole, with different architects responding to a scheme.

“Now we’re seeing these bits and pieces that have been developed, and some of that is being lost,” she said. “You never know what chunks they’re going to take out next. In the end, where is the holistic plan for Lincoln Center?”


Robin Pogrebin
New York Times