The final touches on the Harpa concert hall are being put into place for the May 4th opening show with Vladimir Ashkenazy directing the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra.
This immense and oddly-angled building, which hunkers at the eastern edge of the Reykjavik harbor, was part of a grand pre-crash scheme to redesign the city center as an international center of finance. The award-winning Danish Bjarke Ingels Group of architects (be sure to visit their website because it is very cool) was commissioned to design a global headquarters for Landsbankinn bank, which Ingels himself said he was excited about in his TED lecture until he found out the bank had gone bankrupt in October 2008. Watch this video from 2007 to get a visual on the once-grand plans for the Reykjavik harbor area and also for a virtual tour of the hall itself.
The big question, then, post-crash, was whether or not construction should continue on the concert hall, which is also to be used as a conference center. After much debate, construction did continue and today I think we are all fairly excited to see the finished results. (There is still some grumbling at the cost of cleaning the hall's thousands of individual panes of glass, a whopping 8 million króna or $70,000 a year.)
Saga films has been documenting the building process since 2007, and you can watch a clip from the film online, though it is untexted and in Danish (the Henning Larsen Architecture group designed the glass exterior in concert with the Icelandic Danish-born Icelander Olafur Eliasson.)
Conceptually, this is a gorgeous design and I think we are all hoping that, when finished and glistening like a multi-faceted jewel in waters of the bay, it will live up to it's lofty aspirations.