Lincoln Center to Make Avery Fisher Hall More Accessible

Avery Fisher Hall
The exterior of Avery Fisher Hall, home of the New York Philharmonic, on the Lincoln Center campus. The orchestra's board should be considering a visionary architect to create a new building. Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts agreed to add additional wheelchair seating at Avery Fisher Hall in Manhattan, after the Justice Department said it’s in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The home of the New York Philharmonic will add four seats on a platform in the orchestra section about 27 rows from the stage, according to a settlement filed today in U.S. District Court in New York. Each seat will be “accompanied by a designated companion seat,” it said. They supplement four existing wheelchair seats in the last of the 41 rows, as well as wheelchair seats upstairs.

Lincoln Center will also add a fifth wheelchair seat in the last row of the orchestra section, among other measures to improve the 2,378-seat hall’s accessibility.

“The comprehensive corrective measures agreed to by Lincoln Center will allow people with disabilities to have an equal opportunity to enjoy the performances offered at one of New York City’s most significant cultural venues,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

Betsy Vorce, a Lincoln Center spokesman, said the hall will be more accessible to the tens of thousands who visit annually.

Other changes promised in the settlement include: adding seats on the aisle with removable armrests, for people with canes and other aids; making bathrooms more accessible on the first, second and third tiers; and installing an automatic door opener to permit people in wheelchairs to use the balcony.

Lincoln Center has 18 months to complete the work, according to the settlement.

The case is U.S. v. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Inc., 12-cv-5030, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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