Criticism of Criticism of OMA's Concert Hall in Porto

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The LA Times' new critic, Christopher Hawthorne, reviews OMA's just-opened Concert Hall in Porto.

Mr. Hawthorne states

"Still, had Koolhaas managed to pull it off � had he created a box of space that looked flat and cool but sounded rich and detailed � we would simply have had to acknowledge and admire the feat."

in the second-to-last paragraph. Strange, because the paragraph before, he compares Koolhaas' approach to that of Gehry, who designed a hall that is "manages to be architecturally adventurous, acoustically impressive and humanely welcoming all at once." The logic of the argument is vague. So Koolhaas didn't do what Gehry did, and if he'd pulled off what he DID set out to do, it would have been great. Of course, he has no measures for success for Koolhaas' approach, in addition to not supporting the claim that the Porto hall did not meet these non-measures. It's unclear whether the critic even attended a performance in the space. For all we know, the sound is completely rich and seductive, and the tension between such a banal form and a rich sound is huge.

As you know, Lincoln Center is going to renovate Alice Tully Hall, which makes me worried that it's going to get a cutsie makeover. It's a gorgeous modern concert hall, combining well-crafted (but brutal) bushhammered concrete with a linear, modern accoustic baffle system that lines the concert hall. I always feel like I've entered into a Japanese shinto shrine when I go to such a place, because there's something rustic about all the concrete, with just enough wood to keep the rain out. It's a unique experience. The space is cold to the touch, but warm on the ears (I have seen three performances: two pop performances spanning lots of musical types, and one string quartet). The sound is rich and full, with a wonderful resonance. I am no expert in acoustics, but I've always had my performances enriched by my experience of such a cold space, with such warm sound. Might this be an example of how Koolhaas' hall might be experienced, if this particular critic were thorough enough to articulate it?


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