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Studios Open, Trees Disappear at New-Look Lincoln Center

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Lincoln Center got another new toy today, as the ribbon was cut on the glassy new street-level studios for WNET/Thirteen, the PBS affiliate. The studios are at Broadway and 66th Street, next to the newly renovated Alice Tully Hall, but while all the attention is going to these flashy transformations at Lincoln Center by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, leafy little Damrosch Park at the campus' southwest corner has gone pretty much unnoticed. Recent events may bring some watchful eyes, now that a slew of 50-year-old London Plane trees have been chopped to the ground, leaving the travertine planters studded with stumps and little else.

What's in store for this little pocket of green leading to the Guggenheim Bandshell remains a mystery. In late 2008, shortly before Lincoln Center confirmed the deal to move the lucrative Fashion Week shows from Bryant Park up to Damrosch, word came down through the Parks Department that the condition of the trees was "unacceptable." Around that time, following a similar chop job on another grove of trees on the opposite side of the Met, questions to Lincoln Center about the future of Damrosch met with silence.

Damrosch Park opened in 1969 under a plan from modernist landscape architect Dan Kiley, who died in 2004. Kiley also designed the North Plaza with its broad reflecting pool and grove of London Planes. That space has now been completely transformed, with Kiley's raised planters replaced by an elevated grove of Bloodgood London White Plane trees (aka the Barclays Capital Grove), and the pool narrowed to make way for a futuristic restaurant space topped by an arc of green grass. There are no indications that such a radical transformation will take place at Damrosch Park. For now the Lincoln Center website says:

A limited number of trees on the north side of Damrosch also will be removed, replaced or relocated. During the coming weeks, there will be tests conducted in Damrosch to determine how best to repair and restore any structural damage caused by leaks over the years. Given all of these factors and the many public uses of Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center and the Parks Department intend to consult widely with community groups about the future physical condition of Damrosch Park.
That doesn't sound like a very positive prognosis. As always, we blame the fashionistas.
· Dead From Lincoln Center? Arborcide Angers Critics: Commentary [Bloomberg]
· Lincoln Center Renovation coverage [Curbed]

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