MUNICH — Though it will be built on the wrong side of the wrong train station, Munich’s much-debated, much-delayed new concert hall crept toward reality today with the announcement of a winning design. Bregenz-based Cukrowicz Nachbaur Architekten secured first place in the competition for the venue, now dubbed “Münchner Konzerthaus” (instead of “Konzertsaal München” or “Neues Odeon”), said Bavaria’s Interior Ministry.
A 25-person jury reviewed thirty-odd designs yesterday and this morning at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater before reaching its decision. Details will be given tomorrow at a news conference; seating capacity may be stated as 1,800 with project cost at €300 million.
All being well, which is saying a lot in this city on this subject, a bulbous glassy prism with its top planed off will as early as 2019 start to rise just east of Munich East train station on blighted land long home to a Knödel factory. In it symphonic music will be played to audiences larger than at the Herkulessaal and with better acoustics than at the Gasteig, Munich’s two problematic existing halls. The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra will for the first time in its seven-decade history have a home.
But things going smoothly won’t change the location. Questions that have been asked since the site was announced two years ago — out of the blue, in a political about-face after it seemed the whole new-hall idea had been killed by Bürgermeister Dieter Reiter and Bavaria’s Minister-Präsident Horst Seehofer, and following twenty years of consideration of some half-dozen other sites — are stark and tinged with disbelief that a prime location was not feasible. Will people want to travel outside Munich’s historic core for art music? Will concertgoers coming into town from the suburbs want to change trains at Munich Central Station, ride five stops to Munich East, another hub, and then walk 200 meters further east? One would think not. The very benefit of siting the new hall in this drab place, that it could be built expeditiously, may limit its success.