Advanced Design Studio: Gehry

Gehry: London


Design and Visualization



with Katherine (Trattie) Davies

Course Description

Completed in 1982, the Barbican Center is a brutalist complex of performing arts venues, the largest of its kind in Europe, centered within the Barbican Housing Development by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon. Despite prior attempts at renovation to address ongoing issues of design and organization, the Barbican continues to seek alternatives and solutions to the problems present at the existing complex, now a Grade II Listed Building.

This Studio will take on the challenge of designing a new concert hall for Barbican Centre to replace Barbican Hall, currently a subterranean 1949 seat theater, hosting classical and contemporary performances,  home to the London Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

The new site for the hall will provide an opportunity to radically re-imagine the role of the Concert Hall within the Barbican Centre, responding to changing audience expectations for the arts and visibly addressing the ambition for the Barbican to serve as a cultural quarter, engaged and equally welcoming to residents and audience.

With a new external expression, students are asked to design a space for the experience of music from the inside out.  Students will consider the dynamic relationship between audience, stage and performer.  They will consider how live performance and artistic expression effect change through shared experience and how architecture can engage with and transform site and context.

The studio will be run in close collaboration with Ara Guzelimian, Dean of the Julliard School.  The semester will begin by meeting with Mr. Guzelimian in New York followed by a tour of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Signature Theater. Following initial discussions, students will undertake collective research on the site as well as precedent studies of concert hall typologies and music performance history.  Throughout the course of the semester students will meet with a variety of specialists, such as musicians, conductors and acousticians, in order to better understand the specific nature of the project and to assist in the development of each individual's design proposal.

For travel week, students will visit London to review the site and current facilities of the Barbican Centre, then travel to Paris to tour IRCAM , La Cite de la  Musique and the Paris Opera and then to Berlin to see the Berliner Philharmoniker.

During Spring Break, the students will additionally travel to Los Angeles to visit the Office of Gehry Partners and tour the Disney Concert Hall.

Throughout the semester the Studio will attend live concerts and performances in the Northeast, including a performance at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College.

For their individual projects, students will design independently and will be encouraged to investigate their personal approach to the given design problem.  There will be a strong emphasis on large scale physical models throughout the semester as a primary design tool.