Lincoln Center Goes 'Green'

John Hill
14. April 2021
“The GREEN” designed by Mimi Lien. (Visualization: Timothy Leung)

The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts has announced that set designer Mimi Lien will turn the plaza at the heart of its iconic 1960s campus on Manhattan's Upper West Side into "The GREEN," a park-like "site of social infrastructure."

When it opens on May 10, "The GREEN" will be the centerpiece of Restart Stages, Lincoln Center's "initiative to help kickstart the arts sector and New York City’s revival," which will turn parts of its campus into "an outdoor performing arts center." Lien envisioned the temporary installation as "a more inclusive and inviting environment" that changes the ground surface "from hard paving stones with no seating to a material like grass," where "suddenly anyone would be able to sit anywhere."

Josie Robertson Plaza sits on a plinth surrounded by three buildings that are the homes for the New York City Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera, and the New York Philharmonic. Although it was renovated by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) a decade ago as part of their larger transformation of Lincoln Center, changes to the plaza were minor enough that it closely resembles Philip Johnson's hardscape original. Typically a space to walk through rather than a place to linger — outside of sitting on the edge of Revson Fountain — the reimagined plaza will invite people to stop and stay awhile, with a place to get a coffee, a library kiosk, and lots of seating built into the green surface.

“The GREEN” designed by Mimi Lien. (Visualization: Timothy Leung)

Lien describes the green carpet "like grass" and in fact it won't be grass: it will be made from SYNLawn, a recyclable, biobased material made from soybeans. The artificial grass will stretch across the plaza, cover its various components, and ramp up along the north and south edges to more strongly define the green space; or as Lien says: "I hope that this curved grass surface will feel like an embrace and an expanse at the same time." Although the ramps recall the torqued Illumination Lawn designed by DS+R last decade with real grass, it appears the curved surfaces will serve to cover up any construction work that is part of Lincoln Center's renovations to David Geffen Hall on the north side of the plaza.

Although it is outdoor, where New Yorkers have flocked during the pandemic, "a variety of safety protocols will be in place," per Lincoln Center, "including, but not limited to, required face coverings, social distancing, and regular cleaning of the space." "The GREEN" will be open 9am to midnight every day from May 10 through September 2021. 

“The GREEN” designed by Mimi Lien. (Visualization: Timothy Leung)

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