Lincoln Center and its facelift reflect the place’s history: 17 blocks of occupied tenements were torn down to build the altar of high culture in the 1950s. The original design sheltered the center from its still ostensibly dicey environment. Ouroussoff faults Diller Scofidio & Renfro for “a surprising insensitivity to the way bodies flow through space” that may simply be the continuation of a problem in the compound’s DNA. The cultural institutions housed in Lincoln Center also failed to agree on a vision for the redesign, limiting the architects to small-scale changes in the plaza spaces and reflecting pool.
The 7,203-square-foot lawn, called the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Lawn, isn’t a garden for the people — it’s an elevated island of turf. But it will bring in a stream of New Yorkers who might not otherwise patronize Lincoln Center, giving them a rare opportunity to enjoy grass and sun in the concrete jungle. The lawn curves upward at the edges, allowing climbers a brief moment to forget the city completely. The lawn is a first step towards greener urbanism taking root in the epicenter of Robert Moses’s mid-20th-century vision.
The new space will be open to the public from 7 a.m. to midnight, April through November.