Lawn = Suburb? Not Anymore! (Lincoln Center, W. 65th & Broadway, Manhattan)

Dubbed, “The Illumination Lawn,” the spectacular green roof at Lincoln Center, is a sensory delight.  On a warm summer’s day when you see this luscious roof lawn from a distance, you instantly want to take off your shoes and run your toes through the cool, longish, green grass.  The good news is that you can do exactly that!  Even though this lawn grows on the roof of the upscale Lincoln restaurant and the home of the new Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, it was designed to be used as a public park.  It is sloping, so like a camel that kneels down to let a rider mount it, the Illumination Lawn slopes down to Plaza level with steps to let you easily climb onto it.

Once you are up there, barefoot of course (although that is optional), you look down on the imposing Henry Moore sculpture, “Reclining Figure,” positioned in the middle of the reflecting pond on the North Plaza.  When you LOOK UP, you are also eye-to-eye with another innovative roof construction project, the LCT3, Lincoln Center’s “experimental” 180-seat theater.  It is being built on the roof of the Beaumont Theater, which is currently showing the wildly popular, award winning War Horse.

The challenges inherent in growing a lush lawn are well known to many of you who have tried to accomplish this in suburbia.  But growing a thick, healthy lawn on a roof in the middle of New York City is fraught with pitfalls, and much research, and trial and error went into finding the right type of grass and the perfect maintenance schedule to keep this well-used roof lawn looking and feeling picture perfect.  It is truly a summer roof delight to visit the Illumination Lawn.


4 thoughts on “Lawn = Suburb? Not Anymore! (Lincoln Center, W. 65th & Broadway, Manhattan)

  1. The landscape architects who created the Illumination Lawn at Lincoln Center had a lot to contend with. I met Kevin Sayama in the queue of the closing night at Rooftop Films last Friday and he told me in an email the following day: “I think my ex-coworker Charles Renfro worked on that tilting lawn in Lincoln Center (if it was Diller Scofidio Renfro, who also did the High Line design). By-the-way, the difficulty of building that roof has to do with the 12″ or more depth they need to sustain that lawn: water weighs about 62.4 lbs. per cubic foot, so imagine the total weight of that with soil! Not to mention people and structure.” Funny enough, one of the benefits of this green lawn, and all green roofs, is that they catch rainfall and REDUCE rain water run off, which is a big problem in the overtaxed NYC sewage system. Thanks for such a thought-provoking comment! And I’m so happy you think of me when you see a green roof.

  2. Hi Leslie,
    I enjoyed your article. Suburbanites find it difficult to grow grass on a slope. I wonder how it is done. The water run off is a problem. I was recently on the 24th floor of the Westin in Seattle and looked out the window and saw a beautiful roof-top garden. I thought of you and took a picture. Sincerely, Jeannie

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