Set designer Mimi Lien’s expansive summer overhaul of Lincoln Center’s Josie Robertson Plaza has touched down, blanketing the 14,000-square-foot public space in fake grass and skatepark-reminiscent forms. The GREEN is in place through September to entice New Yorkers to congregate (at an appropriate distance) on what was previously a hard and empty landscape.
First revealed last month, The GREEN is the latest in Lincoln Center’s Restart Stages series, an initiative aimed at keeping the city’s arts and culture scene alive by staging ten outdoor performances and rehearsals. A reading room, “canteen” for food and drinks, workshops, and pop-up performances will all be staged on the newly installed park, which, when not being used to hold shows, will be open to the public for lounging.
Lien, who won a MacArthur Genius grant in 2015 for her architectural sets, designed an encapsulating park for The GREEN that both gently blocks out views of the surrounding David H. Koch Theater and David Geffen Hall. Inclusivity was key factor, and the landscape allows mobility-impaired visitors to navigate and interact with all of the installation’s features unimpeded.
That includes the chairs sculpted from the biosynthetic SYNLawn (soy-based fake grass with U.S. sourcing), tables, the aforementioned reading room (shaded under a semicircular “bridge”), and the upturned round slabs for sitting or sunning on.
“In the past,” Lien said last month, “Josie Robertson Plaza has been a space that you walk through in order to see a performance, to get to the Library, or even to admire the fountain for a bit, but I dreamt of making it a space of inhabitation, of pleasure, and of rest. I wanted to make a place where you could lie on a grassy slope and read a book all afternoon.”
Josie Robertson Plaza sits at the heart of Manhattan’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts complex was originally designed by Philip Johnson, Wallace K. Harrison, and Max Abramovitz, as was its iconic central Revson Fountain. Although the concrete expanse will be covered, the fountain will remain open, accessible, and active throughout the summer.
Once The GREEN winds down and is disassembled, the project’s turf will be recycled and sent upstate to be used in playgrounds for at-risk youths.
Restart Stages is being developed in part with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s NY PopsUp program and made possible by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation-Lincoln Center Agora Initiative.