3. Lincoln Center and Metropolitan Opera House
Designs for The Metropolitan Opera, part of the Lincoln Square Renewal Project, were created by Wallace K. Harrison, the in-house architect of patron John D. Rockefeller, in 1955. Harrison’s ideas for the opera were “fantastical” and grand. Early sketches had the Metropolitan Opera House looking quite similar to the Sydney Opera House, with the design featuring a series of concrete shells. Harrison offered Rockefeller and the board of Lincoln Center nearly 50 visionary proposals, though they ultimately decided on the least imaginative, cube-shaped design.
“The battle was between modernism and traditionalism, but it was also—perhaps to a greater extent—between imaginative creativity and pedestrian cautiousness,” said author Victoria Newhouse on the decision in her biography of Harrison.