Grassy Oasis Emerges at New York City’s Lincoln Center

Lincoln Center has laid the groundwork for a Manhattan oasis—by blanketing its Josie Robertson Plaza with artificial grass.

The result is a pastoral setting around the center’s famed Revson Fountain that is meant for lounging, reading and people-watching. Dubbed “The Green,” the transformed space opened to the public on Monday and will play host to pop-up performances, part of Lincoln Center’s “Restart Stages,” launched last month to activate all the campus’s outdoor spaces for performances and rehearsals. The Green will also offer a canteen and a place to check out books from the New York Public Library.

The space’s designer,

Mimi Lien,

says she was inspired by the work of sociologist and New York University Professor Eric Klinenberg, whose book, “Palaces for the People,” proposes how social infrastructure—from public libraries to churches, parks and other shared spaces—can strengthen civic life.

“That kind of thing is very much behind the genesis of this project for me,” said Ms. Lien, a Tony-winning set designer, for “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812,” and MacArthur Fellow.

‘The Green’ at Lincoln Center receiving final touches on Friday.


Elizabeth Yuan/The Wall Street Journal

Ms. Lien said she initially considered real grass, which would require water and upkeep, endure damage and be difficult for the visually impaired or those in wheelchairs. Instead she decided upon synthetic turf: 15,000 square feet of SYNLawn New York’s waterproof, soy-backed artificial grass to cover the area. When the installation closes in September, the lawn will be repurposed for an at-risk-youth facility’s playgrounds in upstate New York.

Other New York City cultural institutions have been reworking their outdoor spaces to accommodate health considerations during the coronavirus pandemic. The Brooklyn Public Library began a program in April to bring al fresco reading rooms to 22 of its 60 branches. Some museums have been using their facades or other exterior walls and spaces to put up art. Lincoln Center has done the same with Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya’s giant “We Belong Here,” and its NYPL branch will have an outdoor reading room along Amsterdam Avenue.

In all, Lincoln Center says “Restart Stages” will offer more than 150 performances at stages across its campus, mostly free, via TodayTix’s lottery, and employ thousands. The underused Jaffe Drive has metamorphosed into an underground jazz club. The Green itself will feature performances and film screenings in keeping with Covid-19 social-distancing considerations. Supporting Lincoln Center’s approach to cultural engagement in public spaces during Covid-19 is a $2 million grant by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation as part of its $100 million global relief initiative.

Lincoln Center President and Chief Executive Henry Timms said of the basic premise behind “Restart Stages”: “We have these 16 acres of space. What can we do with that space to serve the artistic community and serve the city during a difficult time?”

Mimi Lien, left, designer of ‘The Green,’ examining part of her installation on Friday.


Elizabeth Yuan/The Wall Street Journal

Write to Elizabeth Yuan at

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Source: WSJ – US News

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