DS+R Centre for Music in London Scrapped

John Hill
19. February 2021
Visualization: Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Two years after Diller Scofidio + Renfro's competition-winning design was unveiled, the Centre for Music at the Barbican has been cancelled, with the City of London focusing on refurbishing the Barbican Centre instead.

The City of London announced on February 18 that it is backing "plans to reimagine and upgrade the 40-year-old [Barbican Centre] complex to serve the changing needs of modern audiences, visitors, performers, and artists." It attributed the plans to "the climate change agenda" and "increasing sustainability" among other concerns and stated that a competition will be held later this year to find "a world-class architect-led team" for the project.

The same announcement confirms that "current unprecedented circumstances" — the pandemic — has led the City Corporation to abandon "its ambitious plans for a Centre for Music" on the site of the Museum of London at the southwest end of the Barbican. The Museum of London is on track to move to a larger site at West Smithfield in a couple years, freeing up the albeit awkward site for which Elizabeth Diller and her team proposed a twisting pyramidal form.

The Centre for Music, if realized, would have been run by the Barbican, served as the home of the London Symphony Orchestra and as a base for the Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s new Institute for Social Impact. The £288 million project would have been financed primarily by private donations, many of which dried up during the pandemic, leading the City of London to this week's decision.

While this DS+R project on London is history, the New York firm still has the V&A East Collection and Research Centre, a publicly accessible depot being planned for the city's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and targeting a 2023 completion.

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