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Čiurlionis Concert Hall

Kaunas, Lithuania

2017

The development of the new Ciurlionis Concert Hall in Kaunas provided an opportunity to dramatically reconfigure the urban fabric of the surrounding city.  Such actions require vision, as it is not through timid and conservative thinking that great cities emerge and are sustained. In our design, the new Ciurlionis Centre features a large socially-vibrant public plaza that radially organizes all of the associated programs and dramatically overlooks the river and historic city. While it is commonly rehearsed that beauty is only skin deep, for cities that skin is rather thick—containing as it does buildings, plazas, green spaces, transportation networks and natural features. The proposal addresses this by locating high resolution masses to define the public riverfront and public plaza through sectionally complex tower elements, building facades, ramps, retaining walls, water features and both vertical and horizontally oriented public spaces.  The buildings does not re-use architectural forms from the past, but are attempts to update the historic value of well-defined public space and highly considered facades. The building is not a massive monolithic box, but rather appears, from all directions, contextually layered and picturesque. While it is increasingly fashionable within architecture to call attention to specific sustainable materials and building systems, a question that is rarely asked is whether or not a design is worth being sustained in the first place. The first step towards a true sustainability, for this proposal, is to make a building aesthetically valued – thereby ensuring that it will not be, for instance, a mere mundane box that future generations will want to remove for being bland and unexceptional. This project seeks to be sustainable, but not for the sake of merely naming a few sustainable systems or recycled products and materials, but instead working towards the production of a valued and loved work of architecture that will stand the test of time—aesthetically, materially and culturally.