Shortlisted

Gehry, DS+R, Snøhetta, Piano, Foster, and Levette compete for a new concert hall in London

Architecture International
Gehry, DS+R, Snøhetta, Piano, Foster, and Levette compete for a new concert hall in London. (Courtesy Infernalfox)
Gehry, DS+R, Snøhetta, Piano, Foster, and Levette compete for a new concert hall in London. (Courtesy Infernalfox)

Comprising quite the shortlist (described already as boasting the “starriest of starchitects“), Amanda Levete, Norman Foster, Renzo Piano, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Frank Gehry, and Snøhetta are all vying for the commission to design a new venue for the London Symphony Orchestra and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Known as the “Center for Music,” the venue—despite protests from Leon Krier—will be located in what is currently the Museum of London, which was originally designed by Hidalgo Moya and Phillip Powell in the 1970s. In a close-knit reshuffle, the Museum of London will be moved to a new location in West Smithfield, only a stone’s throw away from its original site at the Barbican. (The new Museum of London has a construction budget of $185 to 210 million and Bjarke Ingels Group, among others, is in the running for that project.)

As for the new Center for Music, the roughly $322 million project will require a “state-of-the-art building of acoustic and visual excellence.” Originally, the government had planned to provide some funding, but after austerity cuts, its proposed $6.4 million contribution was withdrawn and replaced by the City of London Organization, which is supplying $3.2 million. The venue is due to offer a 2,000-seat concert hall and spaces for teaching too.

The shortlist for the Center for Music in full is as follows:

  • AL_A (U.K.) and Diamond Schmitt Architects (Canada)
  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro (U.S.) and Sheppard Robson (U.K.)
  • Foster + Partners (U.K.)
  • Gehry Partners, LLP (U.S.) and Arup Associates (U.K.)
  • Renzo Piano Building Workshop (France)
  • Snøhetta (Norway)

“It is hugely encouraging that so many leading architects from around the world have responded enthusiastically to the challenge to develop a concept design for the Centre for Music,” said Catherine McGuinness, policy chairman at the City of London Corporation, in a press release. “For them, it represents an exceptional opportunity to help realize the plans for this truly remarkable concert hall—outstanding in design and open to all—in the heart of the Square Mile. For the key partners behind this project and the City of London Corporation, this important announcement brings everyone a step closer towards one of the most widely anticipated and significant developments in the Square Mile’s vibrant cultural hub.”

The aforementioned architecture firms and their teams will provide designs in the coming months. A winner is expected to be announced in the fall.

The current concert hall in the Barbican has also seen recent work done to it—or rather underneath it—in the wake of CrossRail, a new rail line that connects East and West London. In order to reduce noise, special spring-loaded rails are being installed to dampen vibrations which reverberate loudly in the tunnels, potentially disturbing performances. Engineers have not been able to test the idea, but are hopeful of its success.

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