Building the Future

(Symphony Magazine) — From Lucerne to Los Angeles to Shanghai, the 21st century has seen a boom in new concert hall architecture. This season alone in Germany brought the opening of the €789 million Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, the Boulez Hall at the Barenboim-Said Academy in Berlin, and the Musikforum Ruhr in Bochum. In Paris, La Seine Musicale—a €170 building designed by Shigeru Ban in the suburbs of western Paris—opens its doors on April 22, just two years after the opening of the Philharmonie de Paris and three years after the inauguration of the Grand Auditorium at Maison de la Radio France.

… As the architecture historian Victoria Newhouse concludes in her 2012 book Site and Sound, “costly, high-profile” classical music venues “are replacing museums as linchpins of urban expansion and tools of global politics and cultural economics” in the twenty-first century.  But Newhouse also notes a “puzzling paradox”: the trend occurs “at a time of what appears to be declining attendance and aging audiences, together with the preference of many young people for less formal environments.” But is it a paradox? Halls from the New World Center in Miami to La Seine Musicale in Paris are intentionally deploying their new facilities to introduce innovative programming and attract new audiences. […]