Custom Glass from Bendheim Solves Challenges for Concert Hall

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One-way glass shields offices, permits illumination

Architects specified a wall of custom glass from Bendheim to meet complex challenges at David Geffen Hall, the newly renovated home of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

An ambitious redesign of this high-profile venue, then known as Avery Fisher Hall, began with plans unveiled in 2019. With concerts suspended during the pandemic, an accelerated construction schedule allowed the newly rechristened facility to reopen in October 2022.

While the renovation plan was largely focused on the interior, one key difference in the building is clearly visible from Lincoln Center’s central plaza: the dramatic presence of new illumination. A 12-foot high band of ceramic fritted glass from Bendheim is framed by the distinctive tapered pillars of the concert hall’s portico, providing a projection screen for lighting along the top tier. Bright bands of colored light now add vibrancy and definition to the building’s well-known façade.

Unbeknownst to the public, however, this band of glass must also serve as the windows for a row of offices, occupied by New York Philharmonic staff. For the renowned firm of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, the challenging assignment was to support the desired illumination of the exterior while also allowing a view and protecting the comfort and privacy of the staffers inside. Specifically, the designers were requested to provide one-way windows, allowing occupants to see out without being seen.

David Geffen Hall at night with Bendheim's illuminated glass wall.

David Geffen Hall at night with an illuminated glass wall by Bendheim. Photo by Lawrence Sumulong, © Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Bendheim’s custom design capabilities allowed them to create a unique product for David Geffen Hall, one that could reconcile these seemingly contradictory requirements. To take full advantage of Bendheim’s expertise in this area, principal architect Tod Williams visited Bendheim’s Design Lab in New York City for an in-person consultation. In the final specifications, ceramic fritted glass (fully opaque from the exterior) was laminated to Bendheim’s “vision glass”, whose proprietary coating created the one-way view from inside. The glass was provided in 5′ x 12′ panels totaling approximately 8,000 square feet.

The $550 million renovation of Lincoln Center’s concert venue (the latest of several since its opening in 1962) was designed to make the hall more intimate and to improve the patron experience, with fewer seats, improved acoustics, and more gracious public spaces. The hall is now also equipped to enable greater use of technologies such as theatrical lighting, sound amplification, and video.

“We take pride in bringing our unique design and fabrication capabilities to every project, but of course we were particularly delighted to work on David Geffen Hall,” commented Bendheim Vice President for Sales and Innovation Said Elieh. “It’s a New York City landmark, and we are thrilled to see our glass shine in this critical role.”

About Bendheim

Bendheim is one of the world’s foremost resources for specialty architectural glass. Founded in New York City in 1927, the fourth-generation, family-owned company offers a virtually unlimited range of in-stock and custom architectural glass varieties. Bendheim develops, fabricates, and distributes its products worldwide. The company maintains production facilities in New Jersey and an extensive showroom in New York City