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Opportunity Knocks – Can Buffalo Save Louis Kahn’s Floating Concert Hall?

A 195′ floating concert hall, designed by world famed architect Louis Kahn is heading for the scrapyard in Louisiana at the end of the month, if a savior does not step forward. The stainless steel barge, called Point Counterpoint II, was built for Kahn’s friend/conductor Robert Austin Boudreau and the Pennsylvania-based American Symphony Orchestra, according to an article at Dezeen.com. The orchestral vessel was designed to travel America’s waterways. Unfortunately, Boudreau, who is 90 years old, can no longer handle the upkeep of the watercraft. It is currently docked in Ottawa, Illinois.

The boat was designed for open air concerts, and features a hydraulic clam roof over the stage. There are two stainless steel cabins, space for 13 crew members and staff, living accommodations for the owner, and an art gallery below deck.

Photograph by Flickr user Joseph

Hmmm… Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) concerts in the summertime? Traveling art exhibits below deck, from rotating Buffalo galleries? Sounds like the perfect water craft for Buffalo. Could this city be its savior?

I have already reached out to Sam Hoyt at the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC), who said, “… it looks like an interesting opportunity that we ought to look into.” Hoyt also mentioned that there’s a lot of space at the Outer Harbor to accommodate such a vessel – if the stars align, space should not be an issue.

I have also spoken to a key Buffalo foundation that has expressed an interest in helping to raise interest and funds… and helping to coordinate the charge. A call has been made to Dan Hart at the BPO. According to a couple of sources, the BPO has been looking for a home away from home at the Outer Harbor.

Photograph by Flickr user Spablab

I am heading up a crack squad of people who understand that time is of the essence on this one. We are even attempting to reach out to American-French cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who is a friend of Boudreau. Yo-Yo Ma is calling for a city to step up to the plate to save the floating concert hall. Hopefully he will be an ally in rounding up help/financial support. Finally, I have reached out to an expert on waterfronts who might shed some light on getting the craft to Buffalo.

See the video below to witness the floating concert hall in action:


Now, due to the unbelievable time constraint, we are starting to put our ducks in a row concerning:

  • What is the condition of the vessel?
  • What’s it going to cost?
  • How to stop it from being scrapped – raising money to gain some time.
  • Going on the roadshow seeking funds.
  • Rallying community partners who want to be a part of the operation, now and moving forward.

This floating barge was built in 1976 (US bicentennial). Yo-Yo Ma has called it a “vibrant ambassador for… national unity”

“Anchoring in large cities and small towns, in busy shipping lanes and at public parks, the barge opens like a clamshell to reveal a glittering concert stage,” he wrote in a letter published by The New York Review of Books. “It sails as a powerful, living testament to American creativity and to the elemental role that culture plays in human life,” he continued.¹

Photograph by Flickr user Dan Hatton

Not only does this barge speak to Buffalo’s history of orchestral music, it would also elevate the architectural cachet that this city prides itself on, not mention bolstering the plans currently underway at the Outer Harbor.

If you have ways and means to help us with this project, assuming that the vessel is in decent shape, please send an email to newell@buffalorising.com. Please title the email Louis Kahn’s Floating Concert Hall.

Lead image – Photograph by Flickr user Spablab 

Written by queenseyes

queenseyes

Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

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