January 27, 2005
While much praise has been directed towards
Diller, Scofidio, & Renfros plans to renovate Lincoln
Center (Record, May
2004 Page 28), resistance is forming among preservationists
to one element: the significant restructuring of landscape
architect Dan Kileys Beaumont North Court, on the Northwest
end of the Lincoln Center campus.
Kiley, who passed away last year, designed
the modernist park with tightly spaced planters lined around
a travertine groundscape and a simple, shallow reflecting
pool featuring a sculpture by Henry Moore in its center. The
new plan would, among other changes, replace the treeline
with a closely-clipped formal bosque of trees, and would change
the dimensions of the reflecting pool, essentially reshaping
the entire space.
Groups like Landmarks West! and Docomomos
Tri-state chapter, as well as local designers, are putting
pressure on Lincoln Center to reconsider this aspect of their
The Lincoln Center Campus could
achieve most of its programmatic objectives without fundamentally
altering the integrity of the Kiley-designed landscape,
writes Ken Smith, a landscape architect, in a statement written
to the local Community Board. He adds that Kileys plan
is essential, because it creates spatial containment
and a balanced relationship between the serioes of open plazas,
courts and shaded bosque areas.
Like most preservation groups, Smith
is happy with the bulk of Lincoln Centers new plans,
which total over $300 million, and include renovation and
restructuring of several buildings and landscapes on the campus.
But he tells RECORD, I think his work at Lincoln Center
was clearly the glue that held all those buildings together.
He claims that it would be possible to keep Diller Scofidio
& Renfros proposed new restaurant along with Kileys
plans, and Docomomo tri-state agrees, finding the argument
that the Kiley landscape must be destroyed to add a restaurant
and new programming less than compelling.
While Lincoln Center is eligible to be
listed on the State and National Registers of Historic places,
it has not chosen to be designated, and thus faces no rules
stipulating preservation. Yet groups feel its plans for Kileys
should be more carefully scrutinized, because they do not,
they say, meet national preservation standards. Landmarks
West! Director Kate West says she has met with Lincoln Center
a handful of times to discuss the issue. Lincoln Center could
not be reached for this story.
Both Docomomo tri-state and Landmarks
West! also object to Lincoln Centers planned significant
transformation of the Julliard School, originally by Pietro
Belluschi and Eduardo Catalano. Its an important
building, says Wood, but, as others acknowledge, it
is across the street from the comlexs core, and it is
too late for changes now that the plan has moved forward.
We dont have an answer for them. Weve run
out of options, she says.
So the attention has turned to the new
park, whose plans are still in preliminary discussions, and
which Wood notes, is every bit as significant as the
Metropolitan Opera, Julliard; any of the buildings at Lincoln
Center. She follows: Once you disrupt that fabric
you really lose a chunk of what makes Lincoln Center Lincoln
Center. Everything can be changed, but it has to be done more
carefully in this case.