Lincoln Center’s New Public Lawn, THE GREEN, Enchants New Yorkers

Lincoln Center’s main plaza is now a verdant playground, with 14,000 square feet of a plush, synthetic lawn covering the Josie Robertson Plaza.

THE GREEN, an installation by designer Mimi Lien, opened on Monday and will be open through September 2021. The lawn—made from SYNlawn, a turf product with a “high soy content”—includes swooping sides (perfect for lounging), arches, an inverted arch, and built-in seating.

One of the arches features a Nuchas Empanadas stand, while the other has benches and a box filled with free books, courtesy of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Throughout the day, people flocked to the lawn, marveling at the transformation of the usually concrete plaza into a welcoming space. Andrew Kasim decided to travel from Brooklyn to check out to see THE GREEN himself. “It’s one of the few things you can do outdoors that’s safe,” he said.

“It feels like you’re in virtual reality,” he added. “Like you’re in a video game.”

Photographs of the big green lawn across Lincoln Center's plaza

THE GREEN on May 10, 2021 Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock

Daniel Pohl lives in the neighborhood, and was enjoying the lawn with his 12-year-old son and their dog Dewey, who was enthusiastically rolling around on the grass. “We were watching them construct it over the past two weeks, and honestly, it looks amazing,” he said. “It looked amazing from the moment they first started putting the framing out… It’s fun, it’s relaxing, you can socially distance here, no problem.”

Noting that Lincoln Center has been essentially closed for much of the pandemic—the lawn is the centerpiece of the cultural institution’s Restart Stages initiative to bring back performances—Pohl was glad the plaza is now much more inviting. “They hit it out of the park… I think we’ll be here several nights a week.”

Lien told NPR she hopes people will “get a coffee and some food at the cafe, sit in a chair or on the grass. Check out a book from the library corner. Perhaps take in a pop-up performance. I would love for it to be a multifaceted civic space.”

Also, the lawn might be a kind of a time machine too: Lien admitted, “[W]hen I was here, testing out the slope, I was overtaken by the childhood urge to just roll down the slope.”

Lincoln Center is on Columbus Avenue between 62nd and 65th Streets.