IMF be damned, Greece will still get a bright new opera house

IMF be damned, Greece will still get a bright new opera house


norman lebrecht

June 30, 2011

The architect Renzo Piano yesterday presented final designs for the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center, which will include a 1400-seat hall for the national opera and nice new stacks for the national library, reports Architectual Record.

Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center

Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center

Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center

photos: courtesy Renzo Piano Building Workshop, all rights reserved

The $803 million project is privately funded, but will be turned over to the Greek government on scheduled completion, in 2015.

The timing of the announcement, as the country hunkers down for deep cuts and more demos after the latest IMF bailout, was decidedly dubious. A case of private-wealth hubris, perhaps. Shouldn’t the local oligarchs be doing more to save the national economy?

Even more questionable is whether any Greek government will be able to afford to run the new facility in four years’ time.

After all, many of the 2004 Athens Olympic sites have been allowed to fall into dereliction.

photo: (c) Daily Mail, all rights reserved

You can see Renzo Piano explain his vision on this video. Scroll in four minutes to skip the Greek preamble. ‘Everything becomes magic, everything is beautiful,’ says Renzo. Tell that to the pensionless crowds outside Parliament.



  • cynic says:

    The Niarchos family have no business interests in Greece, therefore they are neither “local” nor “oligarchs”. They are under no obligation to distribute their money to crowds, “pensionless” or otherwise (although in this case the crowds are otherwise). The more so since the Niarchos wealth was created by international shipping, and not within Greece. As for the bankrupt Greek state, it now maintains both a National Opera and a National Library, albeit in old, not fit-for-purpose buildings. The fact that these will be transferred to new, privately-financed buildings, will, if anything, reduce cost of maintenance since the new buildings will be ecologically friendly.