The City of London announced yesterday that in renewing its commitment to the arts â€śat the heart of recoveryâ€ť from the COVID pandemic, the government would undertake a major renewal of the Barbican Centre, home of the London Symphony Orchestra, and the venue for numerous other performances in music, dance, film and theater, as well as art exhibitions. The 40-year-old Brutalist structure designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon is the largest performing arts center of its kind in Europe; the statement announced a search for a world-class architect-led team for the renovation.
But buried in the announcement was the real news: the cancellation, due to the â€ścurrent unprecedented circumstances,â€ť of the ambitious plans to build a state-of-the-art new Centre for Music. The press release did not bother to name the architectsâ€”Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R)â€”who had won a competition in 2017 to design a permanent new home for the London Symphony, beating out Foster + Partners; Gehry Partners; Amanda Levete (with Diamond Schmitt); Renzo Piano; and SnĂ¶hetta. A year later, DS+R unveiled its design for the multi-level concert hall, with an auditorium for 2,000, and numerous other amenities. But building the $370 million project was heavily dependent on private donations, according to the Architects' Journal. The concert hall would have been the first DS+R project in the UK.