The worlds of modern architecture and classical music have been thrust together in recent years with projects such as Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Herzog & de Meuron’s Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg and Jean Nouvel’s new Paris Philharmonie project. The International Herald Tribune took a look at the phenomenon last week. The most intriguing issue is that of acoustics and the how the science of sound is partnered with the aesthetics of these buildings. Not only do these buildings need to look good and function as communal spaces, but they also have to sound right. That’s a tricky thing.
In the article, Frank Gehry discussed early conversations and arguments between acousticians about the Disney Concert Hall, saying "I realized it was like art. You could make it great, but it was intuitive. There wasn’t a formula for it." That philosophy seems like such a gamble though. There are major problems if the acoustics of the buildings don’t work. As Christoph von Dohnanyi, the chief conductor of Hamburg’s NDR Symphony, states in the article, “If you mess it up, the orchestra will be a mess. There are some orchestras that don’t sound good because they play all the time in a bad hall."
Hamburg’s Elbe Philharmonic seems the most interesting of the new crop of projects. As the photo above shows the hall is slated to be built on a warehouse on a pier in a downtrodden harbor. It’s a tip of the hat to the neighborhood and a look to the future all at once. The concert hall will appear almost ship-like, floating in the harbor. Let’s just hope the musical notes float equally as beautiful.