Design Observer

About
Books
Job Board
Newsletters
Archive
Contact



Observatory

About
Resources
Submissions
Contact


Featured Writers

Michael Bierut
William Drenttel
John Foster
Jessica Helfand
Alexandra Lange
Mark Lamster
Paul Polak
Rick Poynor
John Thackara
Rob Walker


Departments

Advertisement
Audio
Books
Collections
Dear Bonnie
Dialogues
Essays
Events
Foster Column
From Our Archive
Gallery
Interviews
Miscellaneous
Opinions
Partner News
Photos
Poetry
Primary Sources
Projects
Report
Reviews
Slideshows
The Academy
Today Column
Unusual Suspects
Video


Topics

Advertising
Architecture
Art
Books
Branding
Business
Cities / Places
Community
Craft
Culture
Design History
Design Practice
Development
Disaster Relief
Ecology
Economy
Education
Energy
Environment
Fashion
Film / Video
Food/Agriculture
Geography
Global / Local
Graphic Design
Health / Safety
History
Housing
Ideas
Illustration
India
Industry
Info Design
Infrastructure
Interaction Design
Internet / Blogs
Journalism
Landscape
Literature
Magazines
Media
Museums
Music
Nature
Obituary
Other
Peace
Philanthropy
Photography
Planning
Poetry
Politics / Policy
Popular Culture
Poverty
Preservation
Product Design
Public / Private
Public Art
Religion
Reputations
Science
Shelter
Social Enterprise
Sports
Sustainability
Technology
Theory/Criticism
Transportation
TV / Radio
Typography
Urbanism
Water


Comments Posted 05.22.10 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Mark Lamster

Ballet Schooled


promenade

The latest alterations to Lincoln Center were rolled out to the press at the end of last week. I wasn't in attendance for the official ceremonies, but I've been spending some time at the center recently so can weigh in in a somewhat informed way. Basically it's an improvement, except for the replacement of Dan Kiley's grid of trees with the bizarre arboreal moat that is the "Barclay's Capital Grove." The embedded LEDs in the new steps into the plaza look fine and I concede WET's fountain is pretty dramatic. Sinking the access road below grade is a huge plus. But I think I'm burying the lede. The photo above of the State Theater promenade was taken last week during the intermission of a performance by the NYCB.

It was a cold, rainy night and there was nobody out on the terrace, so by all rights the promenade should have been packed. In good times (or when the Nutcracker is playing), you can't even move on the promenade, it's so crowded. But as you can see here, that wasn't the case. It doesn't look empty, but it's disturbingly sparse. Crowds have been thin enough that the ballet actually reduced capacity in its recent renovation and it did so by driving broad aisles into the theater's orchestra seating. One of the wonderful quirks of the theater was that its orchestra had no aisles, which meant patrons had to climb all over each other to reach their seats. This was a pain in the ass, as Philip Johnson, its architect, knew, but it also created a wonderful sense of enclosed space and fostered a kind of community, especially among season ticket holders. So losing it was a real shame and a bad sign. It's strange to see the ballet struggling when MoMA seems to be packing them in daily — they are such similar institutions, with such shared history and ideals. It would be neat if the NYCB could stage dances in the MoMA garden once in awhile, maybe set up a ticket program to attract some of the tourists who are probably going to see Broadway crap instead of dance.

Maybe, in exchange, MoMA could borrow the ballet's great Jasper Johns, which sits behind bullet-proof glass in its lobby. Nobody looks at it. Like the commercial says: two great tastes; go great together. Meanwhile, City Opera is in dire fiscal jeopardy. Fixing up Lincoln Center is great, but if the institutions it houses can't survive, that's a problem design isn't going to solve. A couple of images after the jump.

lc1
The new steps, with LEDs in action

seats
Rivers run through the orchestra at the NYST
|
Share This Story

Comments

Design Observer encourages comments to be short and to the point; as a general rule, they should not run longer than the original post. Comments should show a courteous regard for the presence of other voices in the discussion. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments that do not adhere to this standard.
Read Complete Comments Policy >>


Name             

Email address 




Please type the text shown in the graphic.


|
Share This Story



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Lamster is the architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News and a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington School of Architecture. A contributing editor to Architectural Review, he is currently at work on his third book, a biography of the late architect Philip Johnson. Follow: @marklamster.
More Bio >>

DESIGN OBSERVER JOBS









RELATED POSTS


Lucia Eames, 1930-2014
An appreciation of Lucia Eames (1930-2014).

The Astrodome and the Challenges of Preservation
The Astrodome and the future of preservation.

Not Afraid of Noise: Mexico City Stories
A photographic tour of Mexico City, house by house, wall by wall.

Genzken and the City
A review of Isa Genzken's current retrospective on view at the MOMA.

Premature Demolition
The Folk Art Museum, David Adjaye's market hall, and the first addition to the Morgan Library. If three makes a trend, then premature demolition qualifies.