LINCOLN SQUARE, MANHATTAN (WABC) — Eyewitness News got the first look inside the renovated David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center.

The $550 million project took three years while the performance space was gutted and remodeled.

Despite the cost of more than half a billion dollars, the new hall will have a shorter distance between the audience and the stage – and fewer seats.

“This project is really about two things: an extraordinary artistic experience, but also we want to create a new way to embrace New York at Lincoln Center,” said Lincoln Center President and CEO Henry Timms.

Timms was quick to give an example.

“On this 55-foot media wall, you’ll be able to watch the New York Philharmonic downstairs in our lobby for free,” he said.

The hope is to create an intimacy between musicians and listeners, a connection that the old hall often hindered.

In fact, the biggest improvements are not seen, but heard.

“And we always wanted to make sure from the beginning that it sounded unusual,” Timms said.

Since its construction, the hall has had poor acoustics – but that is no longer the case.

“The first moment the musicians were on stage, there was this magical moment when the first notes came out and you started hearing unusual sounds,” Timms said.

An empty concert hall is just wood, steel and fabric, but what about the music that will be played? Management promised to redesign the program to make it more accessible and diverse.

“So you’re going to hear world music, you’re going to hear rock concerts,” Timms said.

It’s music that matches the more welcoming atmosphere inside and out.

Lincoln Center is built on the ruins of a community that was razed to make room for buildings. San Juan Hill was home to thousands of black and Latino families who were displaced when the wrecking ball arrived.

So it’s fitting that a multimedia piece called “San Juan Hill” will help open Geffen Hall on Saturday.

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