David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center

Location: New York, NY
Date of Completion: 2009
Program: Information, Ticketing and Performance Venue
Size: 9,600 SF
Sustainability: LEED Gold
Awards: 2012 AIA Institute Honor Award for Interior Architecture, 2011 AIANY Interiors Honor Award
Photographer: Nic Lehoux

Harmony Atrium, one of New York’s 503 privately owned public spaces located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, had deteriorated into a de facto homeless shelter. We worked with Lincoln Center to transform the dilapidated site, now known as the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, into a dynamic visitor facility. Wedged between Broadway and Columbus Avenue, the passageway-like space offers respite from the dense urban fabric as well as free performances, tickets to events, and a place to have a cup of coffee or glass of wine.

Visitors enter through large glass doors on either side of the double-height Atrium. Soaring vertical plant walls, ample seating, and a sculptural fountain, which directs streams of water from the ceiling into a stone basin, speak to Lincoln Center’s goal of creating a tranquil, democratic space for the public. Enormous felt paintings by Dutch textile artist Claudy Jongstra adorn two walls and surround a sprawling digital media wall, where information and live performances are streamed. Green marble benches and movable tables and chairs provide places to rest below the gold-painted ceiling, which is pierced with sixteen oculi. In the evening these openings are illuminated by colored lights, creating an ideal atmosphere for concerts.

As William H. Whyte wrote, “I end then in praise of small spaces. The multiplier effect is tremendous. It is not just the number of people using them, but the larger number who pass by and enjoy them vicariously, or even the larger number who feel better about the city center for knowledge of them. For a city, such places are priceless, whatever the cost. They are built of a set of basics and they are right in front of our noses. If we will look.”

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