Frank Gehry is working up proposals for a major new concert venue in Wimbledon
The US architect has provided concept designs for a 1,250-seat venue on a site in south-west London currently used as a supermarket car park.
According to The Observer, which broke the story, former Hollywood film director Anthony Wilkinson – now director of Wimbledon International Music Festival – is driving forward the plans.
Wilkinson - who is looking to raise around £100 million for the concert hall - told the AJ the facility could host ‘the finest music of all genres featuring significant musicians from around the world’.
It is also likely to provide a venue for the annual music festival, a home for the Wimbledon Choral Society and a community function. It would include a second space seating 300 people. Work is underway with educational trusts.
Gehry has previously designed concert halls in Los Angeles and Miami and an open-air music venue in Chicago.
Wilkinson insisted the Wimbledon concert hall would complement Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s much-anticipated concert hall at the Barbican.
Gehry’s involvement in the scheme came after Wilkinson saw images of the architect’s building for the New World Symphony in Miami.
‘I thought that’s the kind of concert hall I want,’ said Wilkinson. ‘I want a vineyard not a shoebox.’
After spending five days in Miami, he asked to be put in touch with Gehry – and didn’t have to wait long.
‘Before I could respond to the email addressed to us both, he called me,’ recalled Wilkinson. ‘I flew to Los Angeles and we got on well. He has an immense understanding of music and a sense of humour that informs his architecture.’
A covenant gives use of the car park site, near Wimbledon station, to an adjacent supermarket. But this expires next winter, and Wilkinson is in talks with Merton Council and an unnamed developer about taking over the site.
He is looking for donations to make the concert hall a reality.
‘We have a pledge of £1 million but we need much more and we want to find it from philanthropic sources,’ he said.
Patrons of the project include Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell; performer and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy; and composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Merton Council has been contacted for comment.
Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles