Berlin spent as much to mend its hall as Paris did to build a new one

The cost of repairing the Staatsoper Unter den Linden has risen from a Senate-approved 240 million Euros to a final 390 million.

That’s almost exactly the amount Paris spent on its new Philharmonie – and almost exactly the sum that Paris overspent.

Three questions:

1 why do we always let these projects shoot 50 percent over target?

2 isn’t it always better to build a new venue for music than repair an inadequate old one?

3 why does London always get it wrong?

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  • For the Philharmonie, this cost is not the result of overspending, but of underevaluating. This is something that has become quite usual in France and in the reszt of Europe too: during the competition, all architects know they have to remain under a cap. Some of them draw projects that are really under the cap, some others draw what they want, promising an impossible budget. In the end, they always win the competition because their project is better, and the readjustment is then unavoidable.

    • Perfectly stated and true in other parts of the world too.

      1. Because the award goes to the lowest bidder who “bought the business” hoping they could make it up later in the project (more diplomatically stated by Abendroth). There are people all over the world with a “bridge to sell ya.” And 50% over budget may be the least of it.

      2. Yes. Always. And please can we demolish and rebuild Avery Fisher Hall? Pleeeease?

      3. Because London flunks 2 and/or ends up with the wrong answer to 1. The Barbican is a prime example.

  • “2 isn’t it always better to build a new venue for music than repair an inadequate old one?”

    No. Europe should preserve it’s history. Not everything, of course: the Royal Festival Hall don’t have the same past of the Berlin Staatsoper. Some things should be preserved, they are part of the civilization’s gift.

    If you are unhappy, go to Singapure or Abu Dhabi.

  • The numbers of Paris and Berlin are not really comparable. In the former case, we talk about a concert hall, in the latter about an opera house.

  • No everyone gets it wrong –

    Birmingham’s 24 year old Symphony Hall was built on budget and on time – and we had a full four months of testing systems and acoustics before opening to the public…..

    and, incidentally, the same could be said for the 14 year old CBSO Centre – the first purpose built home for a UK orchestra and its administration.

    Sadly, the old saying “where Birmingham leads , the rest of the world follows” does not always hold true……

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