May 15, 2013
by: Melissa Marsh
Elizabeth Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro discusses her firm's transformation of Lincoln Center. The program kicked off the Center for Architecture's NYCxDESIGN programming.Daniel Fox
(l-r) Dana Polan, Professor of Cinema Studies, New York University; Anthony Vidler, Dean, Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, Cooper Union; Ricardo Scofidio, AIA, Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Edward Dimendberg, Professor of Film and Media Studies, University of California, Irvine, Author, "Diller Scofidio + Renfro: Architecture after Images" (University of Chicago Press, 2013), and Elizabeth Diller.Center for Architecture
"Lincoln Center Inside Out: An Architectural Account"Courtesy

Elizabeth Diller explained, “We had to make a book about this project – there are a million stories – some of them unutterable.” It was a journey she said was filled with discoveries. The book, Lincoln Center Inside Out: An Architectural Account (Daimani, 2013), tells this story through full-bleed photos, every other spread opening to reveal a four-pane image of various aspects of the design process, from exploration and analysis to iterations and delivery. During the talk, which was organized by the AIANY Interiors Committee, Diller explained that they “designed, commissioned photographers, re-did lots of things” in order to create the story in images. “It really was a spatial and architectural challenge to create this book.” As in architecture, it took a bit of experimentation to get it right.

Diller’s introduction of the work ranged from the inspired to the practical. A particularly engaging graphic – also shown in the book – relates closely to both the topic of a changing profession and its unique impact on the structure and delivery of our design job organization. The chart – an elaborate map of the contributing firms and organizations – demonstrates the way in which Diller Scofidio + Renfro worked with prominent architecture firms Beyer Blinder Belle and FXFOWLE, as well as a multitude of other advisors, experts, and specialists. The image also illustrates how architects coordinate a wide variety of consultants – from technologists to occupant experts, advisors on dance and acting to traffic flow, and from audience experience design to ticketing. Firms like 2X4 – a graphic design firm that is pushing the boundaries of architecture/technology/media – showed up on several teams.

Diller, who is slated to receive a Medal of Honor during commencement ceremonies at Barnard College later this month, managed to drop in a few delightfully blunt comments about the preponderance of men involved in the original Lincoln Center design. One of the most interesting critiques, however, is developed through the work itself. Diller described this renovation as an opportunity for the design to fulfill much of the Modernist vision that was part of the original vision: an urban landmark – but not inaccessible, a point of seeing the city as both urban and natural landscape, a place for re-integrating people into the story. This version of Lincoln Center – with a real-life, behind-the-scenes feeling – seems perfectly delivered as building, and critique, and book. The proposition encapsulated DS+R’s original effort, which led to winning the project.

The conversation and debate continued with perspectives on the creation of the book, the role of media in contemporary criticism, and the evolving city to which DS+R is continuously contributing. This was led by Edward Dimendberg, Cooper Union Dean Anthony Vidler; Dana Polan, Professor Cinema Studies at NYU.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro has always been ahead of the curve – anticipatory in rhetoric and built form – and has delivered in this presentation and the actual book – full of opportunities to fold and unfold landscape images – like looking behind the stage – or at least the proscenium.  Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, AIA graciously stayed late into the evening signing books and conversing with colleagues, fans, former students, and others.

Melissa Marsh is a workplace strategy and change management consultant with an architectural education. She has recently founded her own company, Plastarc, Inc. She is contributor to e-Oculus, and can be reached at

Event: Diller and Scofidio in conversation with Dimendberg, Vidler, and Polan about Lincoln Center
Location: Center for Architecture, 05.10.13
Speakers: Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, AIA, Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Edward Dimendberg, Professor of Film and Media Studies, University of California, Irvine, Author, Diller Scofidio + Renfro: Architecture after Images (University of Chicago Press, 2013); Anthony Vidler, Dean, Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, Cooper Union; Dana Polan, Professor of Cinema Studies, New York University
Sponsor: Knoll
Organizer: AIANY Interiors Committee


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