Friday, July 08, 2005

The ESO may finally be getting a new concert hall:
So far, preliminary estimates put the cost of a new concert hall at about $60 million. And four possible locations in downtown are being considered, said Michael Pastreich, executive director of the ESO. He would not reveal the potential sites.

I like the site across from the library, where the Siegel warehouse is standing...The important thing here is that we go for something really oustanding. Another ho-hum design isn't going to cut it. We need a masterpiece by an internationally-recognized architect that will put Elgin on the map, in the same way Santiago Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum addition put that city on the map.

I'm reminded of the great story that is Columbus, Indiana, where one wise philanthropic organization's decision to pay architecture fees for public buildings, made the otherwise average city a destination. From the city's website:
Cummins Engine Foundation offered to pay the architect’s fee for any new school that was designed by an architect selected from a list supplied by the Foundation. Later, they expanded the program to include a variety of public buildings. Other companies and church congregations also decided to seek architects who would add to the community’s quality of design. Names like Eero Saarinen, Harry Weese, Richard Meier, and I.M. Pei led the American Institute of Architects to rank Columbus sixth in a list that included Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington DC for architectural innovation and design.
And from the city's Wikipedia entry:
Columbus is famous for its architectural designs. Public buildings and statues, designed by such individuals as Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, and others, are found throughout the city. Six of its buildings, built between 1942 and 1965, are National Historic Landmarks, and 60 other buildings sustain the Bartholomew County capital seat's reputation as a showcase of modern architecture.
Let's be the Columbus of Illinois, starting with this new concert hall. If we're going to put $60M into it, it's worth it to spend a little more on the architecture fees. The resulting building can become an icon of our city and transform the way that people--both residents and visitors--view Elgin. This is a major opportunity to brand Elgin as a forward-looking place, the nexus of the Fox Valley and Illinois's second city.

This is news to follow. Read the article.


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