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Starting pistol fired in race to design City of London concert hall

A seemingly doomed plan to build a new world-class concert hall in the City of London has been given a new lease of life, with an architecture competition launched to find a concept design team.

The Barbican performing arts centre, the London Symphony Orchestra and Guildhall School of Music & Drama have together fired the starting pistol on the competitive process for the venue, called The Centre for Music, calling for “internationally-recognised experts from across the globe to develop plans for a state-of-the-art building of acoustic and visual excellence.”

The development team envisions a landmark building located on the London Wall site currently occupied by the Museum of London – which will soon relocate to a new home in West Smithfield designed by Stanton Williams and Asif Khan.

If realised, the centre will include “a world-class concert hall for the digital age and an ambitious, educational offer to bring music-making to the widest possible audience.” The London Symphony Orchestra would call the venue home, while touring musicians and the Barbican’s family of orchestras and ensembles would also perform there.

The strategic location of the site would open up a new ‘cultural corridor’ bringing visitors up from Tate Modern, via the Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s, into the emerging cultural hub developed by the City of London Corporation, which has provided £2.5m (US$3.2m, €3m) to fund the design competition and detailed business case for the Centre for Music.

Supporters of the scheme, including the the designated music director of the London Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle, have long argued that the capital desperately needs a world leading centre for the music and creative industries to avoid being left behind by other world cities.

However, the government dropped its support for the idea last November, saying the mooted £278m (US$358m, €329m) price tag did not represent value for money given the city’s high number of existing cultural hotspots.

The Corporation stepped in to revive the project earlier this year.

“We support the ambitious plans for a Centre for Music at the heart of the City of London, one of the finest cultural hubs in the world,” said City of London lord mayor Dr Andrew Parmley. “This vibrant area has supported creativity and innovation to flourish across every sector and helped secure London’s position as the pre-eminent financial centre.

“Visually striking, acoustically perfect and open to all, a new Centre for Music would be an important investment in the strength of the Square Mile and our neighbouring communities.”

The first stage of the procurement process will recruit architects, who must outline their relevant experience and approach to project delivery by 9 June 2017.

A panel will assess and score the submissions before shortlisting up to six companies, who will receive an Invitation To Tender. They must provide a detailed response to the design brief, explain their approach to delivering the project, provide details of the team that would work on the project, and propose a fee.

Shortlisted bids will then be assessed and a final appointment will be made.

The competition jury will include the chief executive of the Royal Opera House, Alex Beard; the managing director of the Barbican, Sir Nicholas Kenyon; the principal of Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Lynne Williams; architect Eva Jiricna; and Rattle himself.

Ultimately, a detailed business case focused on the concept design will be presented back to the Corporation in December 2018.

City of London  Centre for Music  Simon Rattle  Barbican  London Symphony Orchestra  architecture  design  
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A seemingly doomed plan to build a new world-class concert hall in the City of London has been given a new lease of life, with an architecture competition launched to find a concept design team. The Barbican performing arts centre, the London Symphony Orchestra and Guildhall School of Music & Drama have together fired the starting pistol on the competitive process for the venue, called The Centre for Music, calling
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The strategic location of the site near the Square Mile 'would open up a new cultural corridor' in London / Wiki Commons
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