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    Theater Architecture: 10 Modern Music Hall Masterpieces
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Theater Architecture: 10 Modern Music Hall Masterpieces


If it is a building’s job to host and contain performing art, the structure itself must reflect this in its design.  While most of the world’s theaters are standard, columnic and republican, some architects have stepped forward to create truly wonderful, unique works of architectural art.  To celebrate their structural ingenuity, here are 10 of the world’s most amazing modern theaters, concert halls and civic centers.  Some may remain only ideas on paper, while others are a living part of the world’s cultural heritage.

JS Bach Chamber Music Hall by Zaha Hadid Architects


Much like the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, the JS Bach Chamber Music Hall by Zaha Hadid is a twisting, mathematic display of carefully calculated rhythms.  Designed to host the Baroque composer’s music, this installation at the Manchester Art Gallery was the pearl of the Manchester International Festival, a celebration of one of history’s most important musical forces.  The theater was composed of a translucent, acrylic membrane folded over a steel frame that encircles the perimeter of the stage and its audience.  The result leaves nothing but black, white… and musical magic.  [link]

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Singapore Civic and Cultural Center


The Singapore Civic and Cultural Center will span a staggering 24,000 sq.m. of space in Singapore’s One-North precinct.  At its heart is a 5,000 seat concert hall that will house some of this tiny coastal nation’s greatest touring acts.  Beyond it’s concert hall, the Singapore Civic and Cultural Center will also include retail and cultural features that add to the experience of the country’s soon-to-be largest auditorium.  [link]

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The Sydney Opera House


Easily the world’s most recognizable concert hall, the Sydney Opera House could also be the world’s most beautiful.  Completed in 1973, this design by architect Jørn Utzon is timeless, the jewel of Sydney’s landscape.  Between its six individual theaters, the Sydney Opera House can host up to 5,737 guests at once, 2,678 in its main Concert Hall alone.  But the real value of the Sydney Opera House may not be the music and guests it holds, but the symbolism it carries for the city of Sydney, a true wonder of the architectural world.

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Taipei Performing Arts Center by NL Architects


This failed bid to the Taipei Performing Arts Center by NL Architects was likely it’s most imaginative, but also its most costly.  NL Architects dreamed up this cubic design with a hollow center, providing for a terraced internal structure and a 1,500 seat grand theater.  Architecturally, this design was much more significant than the final winner of the project, but construction costs here likely pushed this one out of consideration.  Here’s to hoping NL will get another shot with this design for another purpose somewhere else in the world.  [link]

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Hylton Performing Arts Center


George Mason University of Virginia is about to get a dynamic architectural upgrade with the Hylton Performing Arts Center.  Designed by Holzman Moss Architecture, this space will feature two theaters and act as part of the entrance to GMU’s campus.  The Merchant Theater will provide seating for 1,166 patrons, while the Gregory Family Theater has room for 300.  This main auditorium will be the home of the Prince William Symphony and 8 other resident performing arts groups in Prince William County.  [link]

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National Grand Theater of China


Unlike a few of our favorites above, the National Grand Theater of China may look like a rendering, but this one is alive in the flesh.  Just blocks away from the Forbidden City and Tien An Men Square, the National Grand Theater rises in the middle of a lake, a glass-tiled titanium structure with a surface area of 150,000 square meters.  The building houses three auditoriums totaling 5,473 seats, with music and theater from the traditional to the modern and international alike.  Architect Paul Andreu has added the next element to the face of Chinese architecture, likely for centuries to come.  [link]

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Bengt Sjostrom Starlight Theater


From Sydney to Beijing to… Rockford, Illinois?  This distant suburb of Chicago is the location of the Bengt Sjostrom Starlight Theater, an architectural achievement in an unlikely place.  Designed by Studio Gang Architects, the Starlight Theater stretches across 135,000 square feet of outdoor space.  However, the design of the Starlight Theater includes a tight geometric canopy that makes any seat in this large environment feeling intimate and sheltered under the starry night sky.  In spite of its unlikely location, Studio Gang Architects put Rockford, Illinois on the map with this stunning outdoor work since its completion in 2003. [link]

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The Melbourne Theater Company


With much respect to the Sydney Opera House and the item that follows this one, we are absolutely in love with the design of The Melbourne Theater Company.  It is easily the most progressive on this list, with it’s wild, vibrant exterior with bright lighting and unpredictable angles.  Inside, its multiple theaters are as fashion forward as the building’s exterior, from the fluorescent pink and black theater to the water-washed orange wood auditorium.  Melbourne is amongst the most architecturally progressive cities in the world, and their theater company building is no exception. [link]

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Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry


The work of Frank Gehry is either very, very brilliant or quite disappointing– and the Walt Disney Concert Hall is one of the controversial architect’s clear successes.  Also one of the his most recognizable, this music hall in Los Angeles is now an important part of the city’s cultural heritage.  The hall seats 2,265 guests, with an acoustic quality much lauded by visitor and critic alike.  But it is the curved, sharp angled outer wall of reflective metal that gives Gehry’s structure it’s allure.  While the creator may be controversial, this work is an undeniable hit in the world of architecture. [link]

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Dance Palace by UNStudio


St. Petersburg, Russia hopes to add the Dance Palace by UNStudio to its skyline.  While the traditional and historic architecture of the city is far different from this progressive structure, it would not impede upon the city’s history.  The Dance Palace would be a bright, shining symbol of progress in one of Russia’s most populous cities, a mark for the theatrical representation of the Russian culture.  While the Dance Palace may not see completion for some time, the renders themselves provide a perspective on how beautiful this addition to St. Petersburg could be.

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Whether you’re a theater-goer or just a fan of architecture, it is easy to appreciate the ingenuity that goes into many of these colossal structures.  So, which is your favorite?  Do you have a favorite that we may have missed here?  Share your thoughts in the comments, and don’t forget to miss these other great TheCoolist features:

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