Hamburg moves forward with concert hall designed to rival Sydney Opera House

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, July 5, 2012 16:43 EDT
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German city Hamburg ended a row Thursday with the firm building a concert hall intended to rival the Sydney Opera House, pictured in May 2012 (AFP Photo/Greg Wood)
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German city Hamburg ended a row Thursday with the firm building a concert hall intended to rival the Sydney Opera House, already years behind schedule and millions over budget.

Under the deal between the local government and the construction company Hochtief announced in a joint statement, the Elbphilharmonie hall, which the city hopes will become a global attraction, should now open in 2016.

“We were able to correct a birth defect in the project with this agreement,” Hamburg’s top official for culture, Barbara Kisseler, said in the statement, estimating the end of construction in mid-2015.

Construction delays and problems as well as a price explosion have plagued the landmark project since the groundbreaking ceremony in 2007.

Originally budgeted at 114 million euros ($144 million), the costs have ballooned to an estimated 323 million euros, though few in the northern German city expect that to be the end of the story.

Bitter infighting between the city government and Hochtief led to an eight-month halt in construction and threats to cancel all contracts but the two sides said building would now resume.

The agreement foresees a redivision of responsibilities and a plan for legal recourse for outstanding disputes over the project, which planners have compared to Sydney’s iconic opera house.

Jutting out from the end of a pier between the Elbe River and the city, the hall will take a boxy brick former warehouse as its base, and perch a spectacular glass structure recalling frozen waves on top.

Sandwiched between the two levels, a public plaza will offer stunning views of the city’s 800-year-old port and plentiful church spires. A hotel and luxury flats are also planned.

It was designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron, the team behind Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games, who welcomed the agreement.

The city aims to create one of the world’s top 10 concert halls with 2,150 seats and acoustics designed by Yasuhisa Toyota, best known for his work at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, as well as two smaller venues.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
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