The drama of Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s (DSR) master plan for the redevelopment of the Lincoln Center campus has been unfolding like a grand opera — with bold, crowd-pleasing gestures over several acts. Early in 2009, Phase One — Alice Tully Hall — reopened to rave reviews for its welcoming, daylit public spaces, its elegant theater notable for the brilliant acoustics by Jaffe Holden, and state-of-the-art lighting by L’Observatoire [record, June 2009, page 62]. A collaboration of DSR and FXFOWLE, the 150,000-square-foot project was part of the larger renovation and expansion of the Juilliard School building, completed later that year.
One of the world’s foremost performing arts conservatories, Juilliard had outgrown the physical and aesthetic limits of the 500,000-square-foot Brutalist structure designed by Pietro Belluschi (with Eduardo Catalano and Helge Westerann) in the 1960s. Like a travertine fortress, the building sat back from the street, with a remote, second-story main entrance accessible by way of a monumental stair on Broadway to the east or from the Lincoln Center plaza on the south via a wide bridge that overshadowed West 65th Street. Inside it was cramped and oppressive, with little sunlight. Its facilities were outdated, and much of the lighting hadn’t been upgraded since the building opened in 1969.