Herzog de Meuron's Elbphilharmonie. Conceptual design began in 2001. Construction began in 2006 and would take10 years more to complete. The crown jewel of the city built atop an existing warehouse on the harbor front. I have never knowingly visited a billion dollar building before now. And I have to admit I was seriously in awe. The building is beyond captivating. No matter what your immediate impressions of this building may be seeing it in photos, experiencing it in person was truly riveting. My eye was continually drawn to it as I moved through the city. The height and visual magnanimity of the roof line offers you glimpses of the building from afar drawing you in. I felt as though I could not comprehend what it even was. Building or mirage.
The undulating glass facade of the new addition lends itself to mirroring the sky. The draped roof line pivots toward the waterfront as if to emulate the motions of the shipyard cranes that define so much of the city. While the monolithic base justifies the new addition to emerge from the historic context of the red brick warehouse district. The concert hall is built atop the existing warehouse, Kaispeicher A, built in 1963. This building alone could be mistaken for an Aldo Rossi building. The proportion of window opening to brick facade completely distorts your initial understanding of scale. But this stark monotone character of the brick mass offers a complimenting contrast to the dancing form and glass facade above. The most convincing aspect of this building is the reveal between glass addition and brick podium, light and heavy. Which programmatically offers a public viewing deck around the entire building, overlooking the warehouse district and waterfront.
This post is only a draft. I bought a book that provides a detailed account of how this building was built that I intend to read and make edits to this post afterward. Part of the allure of this building for me is that I am overwhelmed with the amount of work put into this project. Trying to quantify all of the curved glass in the facade, portions of which fold into private balconies for the hotel rooms and apartments. It not only formally looks like the crown jewel, it glistens as such. The building is quite a spectical.
The building is open to the public during normal operating hours. You need only to stand in line for a free ticket to access the plaza level with the viewing deck. They do limit the number of people that can access the building at one time. The existing structure is largely a parking garage. To get to the public plaza, you have to take a long curved escalator that runs the length of the building. This passage is a white tiled and mirrored tube, delivering patrons to the entrance of the concert hall and public viewing deck. The plaza has these massive curved glass panels pictured above that pivot at the center to function as doors. I was not able to get into the concert hall, which is entirely CNC wood paneled. So perhaps I will get to return for performance someday.