Feature

Miami Beach scores an ‘inside out’ Gehry

Frank Gehry reserved his signature style for the interior of the New World Symphony's new concert hall.

How does an over-the-top iconoclast bust the mold? asked Christopher Hawthorne in the Los Angeles Times. By flirting with sober tradition. Instead of a cliché-ridden rehash of his bold signature style—the teetering, “shimmering metal skins” of Bilbao, Spain’s Guggenheim—Frank Gehry turned his aesthetic “inside out” for the New World Symphony’s $160 million concert hall and training center, a study in “deadpan restraint.” Well, the exterior, anyway: Inside this 100,000-square-foot Miami Beach marvel, the “soaring skylit atrium is filled with a jumble of the architect’s familiar sculptural forms,” giving the design “a shifting, unpredictable vitality.” In short, it’s a “Gehry building disguised as a shoebox.” In a city that has “perfected the art of aggressive displays of individual beauty—pneumatic, Botoxed, dyed, and otherwise”—this building is “content to focus on the richness of its interior life.”

“The big news” for music lovers nationwide is how that rich interior life is allowed to break through the building’s walls, said Anthony Tommasini in The New York Times. Two nights after catching a performance by the New World Symphony inside Gehry’s concert hall, I returned to hear the same program broadcast live into the adjoining park as a free “Wall­cast” concert. “Remember that name, Wallcast, because it is going to catch on.” Listeners outside not only watched “terrific live video” of the orchestra; we enjoyed a revolutionary speaker system—composed largely of a network of overhead horizontal tubes—that provided “the best outdoor amplification I have ever heard.” As a top training orchestra, the New World Symphony is well positioned to make the most of its new home’s versatility, said James S. Russell in Bloomberg​.com. Thanks in part to Gehry, the ensemble has “an extraordinary opportunity to invent classical music’s future.”

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