By Scott Etkin
Earlier this week, Lincoln Center announced a plan to gather input from the community about how to rethink and, possibly, reconstruct the west side of its campus, which runs along Amsterdam Avenue from 62nd to 65th Streets, in order to make it more accessible and inclusive of its neighbors.
This initiative is part of Lincoln Center’s renewed commitment over the last few years to focus on equity and service to the community, such as by recognizing the people of San Juan Hill, the immigrant population who were displaced when the performing arts complex was constructed in the 1950s.
The main architectural elements of Lincoln Center, such as Josie Robertson Plaza with its iconic fountain, face east and cater to pedestrian access via Broadway. By contrast, the west side of the campus — the three block span along the east side of Amsterdam — is mostly devoid of activity. A wall that’s over ten feet high lines the avenue, punctuated by driveways into parking garages and an entrance to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
Over the next six months, Lincoln Center will gather feedback from its neighbors about what would improve this area through interviews, surveys, pop-up events, community events, focus groups and a workshop. Some of the dates for the pop-ups are listed here.
Lincoln Center has partnered in this project with NADAAA, the award-winning architecture firm, and Hester Street, a nonprofit that promotes the voices of people who are normally marginalized in civic decision-making. In particular, Lincoln Center mentioned the need to represent the residents of the New York City Housing Authority campus at Amsterdam Houses, and students from LaGuardia High School of Music and Performing Arts and the six high schools at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Educational Complex.
It’s too early in the process to know what any potential reconstruction could look like, though one goal included in the announcement is to “create an improved performance park to meet artistic and community goals.” The findings from this research phase will be made publicly available.
More information about how to get involved and provide your input can be found here.