10. One of Lincoln Center’s most daring innovations is off-campus: the David Rubenstein Atrium.
The David Rubenstein Atrium has two vertical gardens.
As with Lincoln center’s traffic innovations that solved historic problems once considered intractable, a public atrium successfully transformed its local, atrocious example of one of New York’s most failed programs: POPS. Privately Owned Public Spaces are a good idea that have often been implemented as virtual scams. Developers are given profitable zoning bonuses in exchange for building and maintaining a public space. The notorious Harmony Atrium was a hoax perpetrated on the public, says Levy, because it was dank, desolate, bereft of food service or proper seating, and out of compliance with New York City codes. For this the developer had been allowed to build an extra 25,314 square feet of floor area, or roughly 100 apartments.
After talking the Harmony condo into turning their atrium over to the Lincoln Center, Levy ran an architectural competition that selected Tod Williams and Billie Tsien (who also did the now lost Folk Art Museum) to overhaul the space into a combination lounge, café, meeting area, discount ticket booth, performance venue, “contemplative place to read and relax.” It is all this and more.