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Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s City of London concert hall wins funding boost

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Funding has been released for another 12 months of design development on Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s much-awaited Barbican concert hall

Project backer and client, the City of London Corporation, has approved £2.5 million for further work on the New York practice’s proposed Centre for Music.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro landed the landmark scheme in autumn 2017, seeing off big names such as Amanda Levete, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Snøhetta and Renzo Piano. However, concept designs have yet to be released of the practice’s vision for the hall.

The concert hall, expected to cost up to £250 million, will be built on the London Wall site being vacated as the Museum of London moves to a new Stanton Williams and Asif Khan-designed home in West Smithfield.

As well as further design work, the latest cash release will support fundraising, business modelling and capital funding plans for the Centre for Music. An initial £2.5 million was handed out last January to create a detailed business case.

City of London Corporation policy chair Catherine McGuinness said last week’s decision ‘builds upon the City Corporation’s initial investment in these ambitious and exciting plans for a world-class performance and education venue in the heart of Culture Mile’.

‘The proposed Centre for Music would attract outstanding performers and diverse audiences, and it is my sincere hope that creative businesses, which contribute a huge amount to the UK’s economy, would be proud to engage with this landmark building.’

The Centre for Music project is backed by the Barbican, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. 

In a joint statement, Barbican Centre managing director Nicholas Kenyon, London Symphony Orchestra managing director Kathryn McDowell and Guildhall School of Music & Drama principal Lynne Williams said: ‘We are delighted that the City of London Corporation has supported the next phase of the Centre for Music’s development, and we look forward to continuing work on this important project.

‘This is a fantastic opportunity to inspire a new generation by transforming how music is experienced in the capital.’

According to the original tender notice, the winning practice will draw up conceptual plans for a ‘state-of-the-art building of acoustic and visual excellence’ on the prime plot currently occupied by Powell & Moya’s 1976 museum.

The concert hall is not Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s only UK project. Last May it won the Victoria and Albert Museum’s competition to design a £25 million collections centre on the Olympic Park in east London.

Since then the US practice has narrowly missed out on a string of high-profile schemes in the UK, including the London School of Economics’ new Paul Marshall Building, the Royal College of Arts’ £108 million extension to its Battersea campus and Manchester’s £110 million The Factory arts space.

The judges in the Centre for Music contest praised Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s approach as having ‘most clearly met the vision and ambition of this project’. The jury said the firm’s proposal would ‘deliver a world-class concert hall in an outstanding new building’.

The practice is best known for its transformation of New York’s High Line, The Broad contemporary art museum in Los Angeles and the Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center at Columbia University in Manhattan.

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