Friday, February 20, 2009


Found in Paul Goldberger's article on the renovated (and vastly improved) Alice Tully Hall, at Lincoln Center:
Previously, once you found the door, you entered a cramped vestibule and then walked down several steps to a low-ceilinged, carpeted lobby that felt like a basement.
That puts me in mind of the box-office area at Davies. I like entryways to have some sense of grandeur. Davies has this, but in the orchestra-level lobby, which is one floor up from the box office, which is a cramped, mean, low-ceilinged space that makes me want to run away.


pjwv said...

Davies Hall is pretty much a disaster all round. I thought I would warm up to it over time and my initial dislike was just in contrast to the hall I was used to (Boston Symphony Hall) - but no, I still think it's ugly.

Lisa Hirsch said...

You have to wonder about the design of the building. They completely waste the corner of Grove & Van Ness, where you'd expect the grand entrance to be. Instead, the corner is a wasteland that everybody hurries past as fast as they can. You get shoehorned through the ground-level entrance, then upstairs there's the glass curtainwall, but hardly anywhere to sit. I'm also curious what happened with the parking lot in the back. Could they not afford to build there? It's like having a hole in the ground.

About the concert hall itself, the less said, the better.

Daniel Wolf said...

One of the best things about the better old European opera houses is the division of the lobby spaces into many different rooms, rather than a single huge and indistinctive space. These often included tiny alcoves appropriate, one supposes, only for the most intimate of assignations. While it's clear that these spatial divisions also marked serious divisions of class and status that a "democratic" large open space would appear to transcend, they have genuine charm and have a human scale, while the large spaces actually create greater opportunities for elites to maintain public presences.

As to benches and chairs in lobbys, no hall I know, old or new, has enough of them.

Lisa Hirsch said...

That's an excellent observation. I haven't been in that many of the older European houses, but the Coliseum and Covent Garden in London both have some nice intimate spaces where you can sit and have a drink or snack at intermission. Totally agree about the charm.

The Barbican is a horror in many ways, but I remember there are a fair number of places to sit. Also, the London houses all have ice cream available at intermission....

sfmike said...

You've forgotten to mention the extreme claustrophobia caused by the horrible design decision to have the "grand staircase" and orchestra right section both exit and enter at the same small area. The rounded glass view is nice but all that glass reminds me uncomfortably of what tends to happen in earthquakes. Fun fact: the parking lot is nicknamed Lake Louise because it has no decent drainage and often turns into a body of water named after the benefactor who gave the money for the hall.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Yeah, very true - the traffic jam of people trying to exit Davies through TINY ENTRANCES is always bad.

I didn't know that's why Lake Louise got that nickname. Sheesh.