Designed in collaboration with the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, the project for Avery Fisher Hall includes six levels above grade and one floor below. The interior organization is based on a sequence of public foyer and ancillary spaces surrounding the main concert hall and rehearsal space. From the principal entry on Josie Robertson Plaza, concert-goers are transported immediately to the large top-lit lobby.
The main concert hall is conceived as a hybrid shoe-box-cum-arena type of auditorium with vineyard seating for 2,400. At the orchestra level and for the first tiers of seats, low walls are introduced to create local sound reflections to compensate for the large size of the hall. Similarly, the stage is moved forward, with the chorus behind it to reduce the distance between the most remote seats. A Japanese hydraulic system allows groups of orchestra seats to be turned over to create a flat floor at the level of the stage or additional platforms within the audience.
The lobby floor and the main circulation spaces are faced in travertine, contrasting with the rough cleft-travertine walls of the concert hall. Backlit, acoustically reflective stacked-glass is used for the hall interior, which is isolated from the outer case by an air cavity. This treatment is intended to give a kind of sub-aqueous character to the interior of the auditorium.
In terms of its effective gestalt, the primary urban image of the building is a continuously glazed six-story, curved curtainwall that envelops the new foyer space at the northeast corner of the site as it rotates at Sixty-fifth Street to receive the thrust of the diagonal of Broadway. Supported on tubular steel bow string trusses, with hinged connections at the floor and diagonal bracing in between, this façade is clad throughout with large triangular facets of glass that produce a visually dynamic membrane. In contrast to the vertical and rectilinear curtainwall facing Josie Robertson Plaza, this spectacular bowed and faceted skin yields a changing, vibrant luminosity, varying continually, segment by segment, from direct transparency to opaque reflection, according to the angle of the sun. At night the faceted skin is transformed into a giant lantern, revealing through its transparency a festive multitude of concert goers ascending and descending through the building.
Facing Josie Robertson Plaza, the rectlinear south elevation is shaded by a series of fixed external horizontal louvers. Flanking this section of the façade, further recessed glazed areas are directly shaded from the sun by louvered panels that extend outwards from the roofline and by the adjacent wall sections that extend outwards to the south. Due to the high sun angles from the south, the use of the horizontal louvers on this elevation provide virtually a completely shaded surface, which, in conjunction with a high performance low-e coating on the glass surface, allows for the desired transparency.