Designing for Flexibility: A Symphony of Possibilities at David Geffen Hall

The new David Geffen Hall has been reimagined as a performance space that enhances the concert-going experience, supports diverse artistic expression, and fosters a sense of community. 

Reconstructed within the existing building envelope, the entirely new concert hall is a flexible and accessible design that accommodates a variety of performances. It can be reconfigured to any contemporary orchestration or staging, including orchestra, solo performances, film screenings, staged opera, and pop concerts – transitioning from an orchestral setting with natural acoustics and full surround seating to a dynamic space for popular music and film, with cinema-style seating and amplified sound.

How do we get from here…
to here?

Twenty-two motorized lifts can reconfigure the size and location of the stage, provide risers for performers, and enable customizable performance possibilities, all while ensuring optimal sightlines and acoustics. New state-of-the-art lighting, rigging, and stage machinery further increase the new hall’s artistic flexibility. 

A significant design gesture has been to bring the stage forward by 25 feet, with seating wrapped around the stage on each tier creating a new audience experience. Flexible parterre seating behind the stage can either be used for the audience or for choral performances, further enhancing the hall’s possibilities. This ‘surround hall’ design eliminates the proscenium stage establishing a more intimate relationship between the audience and performers.

A retractable film booth and built-in film screen have been added to allow for an ideal projection angle for all cinematic and filmed media – an addition that offers high quality film screenings. A second screen can be deployed for rear projection, supporting a range of possibilities for screenings and multimedia performances.

At the core of the project, is an understanding of the creative and ever-evolving nature of artists and performers. Designed with this in mind, the flexibility of the reimagined concert theatre transcends the David Geffen Hall’s previous design iterations to create an enhanced atmosphere and acoustics, that amplify the hall’s artistic programming. 

Timelapse: Chris Lee
Photography: Michael Moran, Chris Lee