The New York Philharmonic gets a makeover for $550 million

More than 600 workers and technicians work on the Lincoln Center construction site in Manhattan, where the prestigious David Geffen Hall concert hall is located. The official reopening is scheduled for October.

The Covid-19 epidemic will have been a hard test for the live performance industry, but the New York Philharmonic Orchestra took the opportunity to accelerate the renovation of its setting and its acoustics, a project in progress at 550 million. of dollars.

Inside Lincoln Center on the island of Manhattan, the bowels of the prestigious David Geffen Hall, where the “Philsince 1962, were clearly visible during a visit by AFP. More than 600 workers and technicians work permanently on site, on a rotating shift system, six days a week and with overtime, to transform the compound into a state-of-the-art space, more accessible and equipped with better acoustic. Objective: to bring one of the oldest and most famous musical institutions in the United States back to its setting in the summer for the first tests, before an official reopening in October.

A lobby twice as big

The very first discussions on the need to renovate the hall date back to 1995, but the project dragged on for a long time. Paradoxically, the pandemic, by forcing the David Geffen Hall to close to the public, accelerated the process. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We could make something positive out of this disaster“, explains the director general of the”Phil», Deborah Edge.

The new venue will feature a lobby twice the size, a sidewalk studio for performances visible from the street, and improved acoustics made possible by redesigned wall surfaces and a raised stage ceiling.
The renovation reduces the capacity from 2,738 to 2,200 seats, but visibility will be improved for almost all seats in the hall, and some audience members will be placed behind the orchestra, providing a unique view.

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Cost of the operation: 550 million dollars, financed by fundraising, in particular from the one whose name the room bears, the magnate of the music industry David Geffen. Since the fall, the orchestra, which resumed its concerts after the pandemic, had to find new spaces within Lincoln Center.

For cultural center president Henry Timms, the pandemic presented an opportunity: “rather than taking four years, (the construction site) could take two years“. And in a city hard hit by the Covid, with a spring of 2020 where everything came to a standstill with hundreds of deaths every day at the height of the crisis, “it would be a powerful symbol of our trustin New York, Henry Timms concludes optimistically.

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