We’re In Lockdown, Time To Cancel The Centre For Music Vanity Project

Early last month some specialist media outlets were reporting that the City of London council had put extra cash into its exorbitantly expensive plan for a new and unneeded classical music venue in central London.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s new Barbican concert hall proposal has been allocated nearly £2 million for work to continue, though a planning application for the scheme is not expected until the end of next year

The New York practice’s competition-winning Centre for Music was unveiled more than a year ago but since then there have been few updates.

Now client and backer the City of London has announced the release of £1.95 million to take the £288 million proposals to the next stage, including developing the funding model and undertaking technical studies to inform the wider site masterplan.

According to the backers, the next stage of work will also include a ‘robust and detailed Capital Funding Model’ for the build cost.

The designs – which are not expected to differ greatly from DSR’s concept proposals – are expected to be taken out to consultation later this year. It is understood a planning application is not expected to submitted until the end of 2021.

The concert hall will be constructed on the London Wall site that will be vacated when the Museum of London moves to its new home at Smithfield Market.

Altogether, the City Corporation has now pledged £6.8 million in funding for the Centre for Music project, which is backed by the Barbican, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s London Centre for Music gets cash boost by Ella Jessel, Architects Journal, 9 March 2020: https://web.archive.org/web/20200404205917/https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/diller-scofidio-renfros-london-centre-for-music-gets-cash-boost/10046552.article

After the decimation of the culture industry and many other economic sectors caused by the Covid 19 lockdown, it would be obscene if the City of London went ahead with this over-priced vanity project. We’re at the start of a huge recession and London already has all the classical concert halls it needs. The proposed £288 million spend could be much better used mitigating the economic toll the current pandemic will have on the lives of those living in the City of London and other London boroughs. The City council needs to cancel its plans for the unwanted Centre for Music now! This would be a win-win situation for everyone, since the Centre for Music was expected to be endlessly delayed anyway, as a Guardian piece from January made clear:

Wanted: a philanthropist to cough up about £145m towards London’s proposed Centre for Music. For that amount – about half the total cost of what will be the London Symphony Orchestra’s new home – you’ll get naming rights. The plan for the centre was put forward in 2015, just as Simon Rattle was announced as the LSO’s new music director. It is to be built on the site of the existing Museum of London, at the western edge of the City – 500 metres from the Barbican, the LSO’s longtime base.

But only last Monday did the museum finally submit its planning application for its own new location, at the disused end of London’s Smithfield market. Assuming the City corporation gives the green light later this year to the stylish proposed design, the museum will begin the very complicated process of transforming the historic market buildings before it can move.

Bosses hope that the new £330m Museum of London – helped by generous dollops of cash from the corporation and the mayor – will open in 2024. Realists think 2026 is more likely, with an obvious knock-on effect on the Centre for Music, as only then will the latter be able to start the demolition of the museum, the radical transformation of the surrounding road and pedestrian systems, and its own construction.

The existing Barbican hall, which, with its wonderful wooden floors and luxury seats, is my favourite concert venue, would then be used for non-classical music and conferences. Opening date for the new centre, which will also be home for the Guildhall School of Music? I reckon 2030. At least the long-delayed Elizabeth line (Crossrail), with a station at nearby Farringdon, should be running by then.

London’s new Centre for Music? Don’t hold your breath… The delay to the London Symphony Orchestra’s planned new home is growing by Richard Brooks, The Guardian,
19 January 2020: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/19/london-centre-for-music-lso-museum-of-london-delay-v-and-a-iran-exhibition-tony-garnett

Note: we previously used the header above of the LSO’s Simon Rattle alongside the horror icons Jason and Freddy on the first coverage we gave to the proposed Centre for Music and related projects in the post Culture Mile: A Nightmare On Beech Street back in July 2017.

3 thoughts on “We’re In Lockdown, Time To Cancel The Centre For Music Vanity Project

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