This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable
SundayArts is Now NYC-ARTS
video archive NYC-ARTS.org
Lincoln Center: Up on the (New) Roof

I’ve been fascinated with Lincoln Center’s new grass-covered sloping roof—Illumination Lawn, as it’s now known—ever since the architects’ renderings were made available. I peered at the site while workers slaved away in the cold of winter, and I visited it again this Wednesday, when it was opened to members of the press. On Friday, May 21, LC will host a public celebration of its updated public spaces, including the rooftop lawn, from noon to 3 pm., with free gelato and lemonade near Illumination Lawn, and some free ticket giveaways for summer events at Lincoln Center. Image gallery below.

But back to the roof. The roof—sitting atop a building with a soon-to-be restaurant and two film screening rooms—is part of a greener look for the campus, which includes the vertical green walls at the Rubenstein Atrium, stands of newly planted London plane trees just to the left of the reflecting pool, and several varieties of trees at LC’s southeast corner: Swedish Aspen, redwoods, honey locust, dogwoods, and sweet gum. After some initial concerns about the roof’s slope, I discovered that a) there are some steps make the steepest part easier to climb, and b) there’s a relatively flat spot sort of in the middle, so you don’t feel like you’re about to roll down, as I feared. The grass is thick and soft. When you reach the roof’s high point, you get approximately the same view as before from the ill-fated Milstein Plaza—the one casting a 200-foot shadow over 65th Street. But it is much nicer sitting up on the grass than it ever was on the old plaza. I envision Juilliard students and bunheads from the School of American Ballet hanging out between marathon practice sessions and rehearsals, along with concertgoers and the inevitable tourists with cameras. Time will tell if that indeed turns out to be the case.

Some cool facts about the roof: 300 different grass mixtures were considered before deciding on a mixture of 90% tall fescue grass and 10% Kentucky bluegrass. Lincoln Center hired Dr. Frank Rossi, the foremost grass lawn/sod grass specialist in the United States, from Cornell, to help test these out at a site in Jersey City. Really good maintenance will be necessary, LC officials point out.

Architect Liz Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro had insightful—and occasionally amusing—things to say during the outdoor tour she gave on Wednesday. Some of us wondered what the big hulking metal thing at the corner of Columbus and 62nd Street was; Diller explained that it is actually a banner support, which she joked was sort of like “like dogs marking territory” as it is at the farthest (southeast) corner of Lincoln Center and thus announcing itself to the neighborhood. Describing the revamped fountain, she explained that it now consisted of three concentric rings of glassy, frothy nozzles—354 of them—set up in a radial system, programmed with “shooters” to go up at very high pressure and close down tightly, creating an effect of the water lingering for a split-second, then splashing. Sure enough, schoolchildren from elementary to high school ages all oohed and aahed loudly as the fountain shot up high—a similar effect to a fireworks display. The highest-shooting fountain displays—which will happen most days just before curtain time and during intermission—appear to nearly reach the height of the Koch Theater and Avery Fisher Hall. It is very eye-catching, and no-one could really focus on anything else during the fountain’s most dramatic spurts. Between the fountain and the grass roof, it’s an altogether different feeling outside at Lincoln Center. If the weather holds, Lincoln Center should be a great place to check out when it opens this Friday.

Images by Jennifer Melick.

sunday arts footer

SundayArts is made possible in part by First Republic Bank and by the Rubin Museum of Art. Funding for SundayArts is also made possible by Rosalind P. Walter, The Paul and Irma Milstein Foundation, The Philip & Janice Levin Foundation, Elise Jaffe and Jeffrey Brown, Jody and John Arnhold, and The Lemberg Foundation. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additional funding provided by members of THIRTEEN.
©2018 WNET All Rights Reserved.   825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019