Katherine Farley, chair of Lincoln Center, made the announcement March 4. It was reported last fall that executives at the arts center were making plans to pay the Fisher family $15 million for permission to remove Fisher's name from the building in order to seek a new benefactor to provide for the venue's future.
Avery Fisher Hall, which was named for the Fisher electronics company founder in 1973, will be renamed David Geffen Hall this September, coinciding with the start of the New York Philharmonic's 2015-2016 season. The New York Times reported that Geffen, 72, insisted on a provision that the new name be kept "in perpetuity."
"As a native New Yorker, I recognize that Lincoln Center is a beacon to artists and musicians around the world," Geffen said in a statement. "To be involved with such a beloved and iconic institution is deeply satisfying."
Construction on the renovation and "reimagination" of the venue will begin in 2019, with an estimated cost of $500 million. Plans also call for the creation of a new Lincoln Center Hall of Fame, which will offer a comprehensive celebration of all aspects of the performing arts and film.
Max Abramovitz designed the concert hall, originally known as Philharmonic Hall, which opened to the public in 1963. Geffen's work in the entertainment industry shaped the careers of such artists as Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, Bob Dylan, the Eagles, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Linda Ronstadt, Donna Summer and Crosby, Stills and Nash. He also produced Dreamgirls on Broadway and the film version of Little Shop of Horrors.
He was among the first philanthropists to personally and financially support the fight against AIDS in the early years of the epidemic. He has supported the AIDS Project Los Angeles, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, amfAR, God’s Love We Deliver, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and Project Angel Food, among others. The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles is also named for him.
The gift is not the first of its magnitude. In 2008, the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center was renamed for oil magnate David H. Koch after a $100 million gift.