Lincoln Center to enliven West 65th

Changes include street level restaurants and retail, new film center, and expansion of Juilliard and Alice Tully Hall. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts sought approval for the large-scale redesign by New York firms Diller Scofidio+Renfro and Fox and Fowle Architects of its West 65th Street frontage, requiring an amendment to the zoning text and map and acquisition of an easement over City property.

Under the plan, Lincoln Center’s three parking and loading entrances and the loading berth on West 65th Street will be eliminated and the pedestrian bridge spanning the street removed. Access to the Lincoln Center Garage will be gained by a tunnel to be constructed beneath the street, connecting the Lincoln Center Garage, on the south side of West 65th, to the Rose Building garage. With the changes, Lincoln Center will use its West 65th Street frontage as main entries to its venues.

On the north side, the sidewalk will be increased from 15 to 25 feet by the reduction of one car lane on West 65th Street. Lincoln Center will redesign the north facade to provide Juilliard with a street level glass entrance lobby, expand Alice Tully Hall’s lobby, increase Juilliard’s classrooms and rehearsal spaces, and add open space, a street level restaurant and information kiosks.

On the south side, a new film center, containing two-screening rooms, a lecture room and event space, will front West 65th Street and include a dramatic box office visible from both Broadway and Amsterdam. A restaurant will be added to the existing main plaza on the second level, the North Plaza, which will have a large entrance lobby on West 65th Street. The restaurant’s roof will be designed as an 11,000- square-foot open public lawn. A large staircase, 55 feet in width, will replace the existing staircase to create a more aesthetic connection between the street level and Lincoln Center’s main plaza. Retail uses will be added at Amsterdam and West 65th.

A main component of the application was the addition of 13 “video blade” signs along the south sidewalk. The signs, roughly nine-feet tall by four-feet wide, will display streaming video with information on Lincoln Center events and a few will have touch screens, providing on-demand program information.

At the June 15, 2005 hearing before Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, Community Board 7’s representative stated that the Board remained opposed to the projected $6 million tunnel construction because it would create a significant traffic problem where Columbus and Broadway merge.

Six speakers opposed alterations to the North Plaza, designed by landscape architect Dan Kiley, calling it one of the few examples in the city of modern landscape architecture and naming Kiley a modern day Frederick Law Olmstead. Arguing that “works of art should not be changed lightly,” a few asked the Council to prohibit any changes to the Plaza while others asked for a reduction in the proposed restaurant to minimize impacts to the Plaza’s reflecting pool. Landmark West testified that it was negotiating with Lincoln Center over the Plaza’s redesign.

The Subcommittee and the full Land Use Committee approved.

The full Council approved on June 23, 2005.

ULURP Process The Planning Commission, as lead agency, issued a negative declaration on December 20, 2004. Community Board 7 conditioned its approval on commitments that the roof lawn be permanently accessible; signage not exceed 26 feet in height and not contain third party advertisements; and that Lincoln Center, rather than the City, pay all costs to maintain the new pedestrian bridge. The Board opposed the tunnel beneath West 65th Street, citing disruption and construction expenses. Borough President C. Virginia Fields approved with similar conditions.

The Commission approved, noting that Lincoln Center had agreed to reduce the number of blade signs from 15 to 13 and would work with Landmark West on the North Plaza’s redesign.

Council: Lincoln Center (June 23, 2005); CPC: Lincoln Center (C 050170 GFM – allow signage on a public sidewalk); (C 050098 MMM – amend map to close portion of West 65th Street); (C 050219 PQM – acquire easements for pedestrian bridge/tunnel); (N 050169 ZRM – text amendment for signage) (May 25, 2005). CITYADMIN

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