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How Canadian architects helped save David Geffen Hall

By Michael Vincent on February 13, 2023

David Geffen Hall
David Geffen Hall (courtesy photo)

David Geffen Hall (formerly Philharmonic Hall and Avery Fisher Hall) serves as a home to the New York Philharmonic — one of the best orchestras in the world. As such, it had better sound good.

Since architect Max Abramovitz initially unveiled it in 1962, there have been grumblings about its terrible acoustics. This prompted a $200 million renovation project to offer the New York Phil (and soon Dudamel!) the concert hall they deserve.

The new concert hall kicked off its 2022-23 season last fall and lifted the curse of terrible acoustics with rave reviews.

Shattering sound barriers

At the ribbon cutting on Oct. 8, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul expressed pride in how the concert hall sounded. Little did she know, there was a secret Canadian maple leaf hidden beneath the ceiling at David Geffen Hall.

The Canadian firm Diamond Schmitt Architects was hired for the project on the reputation of their work at Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, Montreal’s Maison Symphonique, and Ottawa’s National Arts Centre.

Diamond Schmitt worked with Connecticut-based firm Akustiks, theatre designers Fisher Dachs Associates and New York-based architecture firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien.

Armed with a budget, they redesign the space in service of sound — from the building materials to the textiles to the shape of the hall.

A leap into the future

The completion of this renovation project marks a significant milestone for both Lincoln Center and Diamond Schmitt Architects. The renovation has not only improved the acoustics in David Geffen Hall, but has also enhanced accessibility and upgraded technology, making it a more modern and inclusive space for both artists and audiences.

Michael Vincent
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