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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 The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

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  • Dylan Burns

    This would be an amazing addition to the waterfront! It would be worth it just to add Louis Kahn to the list of architects represented in Buffalo. I would absolutely donate to the project if it progresses to such a point, and hopefully it does!

  • Gray McDowell

    Wow- it would seem to be a perfect fit for Canalside.

    • 300miles

      I’m guessing the boardwalk is too high at canalside. It could dock at LaSalle Park too, but that park already has a permanent stage. Probably why Hoyt suggested the Outer harbor for this.

  • ElmwoodEd

    I can’t think of anyplace on the Buffalo waterfront where this thing wouldn’t be obscured by a 12-foot bulkhead.

    • TrueWhite

      Good point. Should definitely be looked at by any feasibility study.

      Guessing here… looks like waterline to the concert deck is about 8 to 10 feet. So any bulkhead of 8 to 10 feet would be suitable as a concert venue. Just guessing.

  • L.Sabo

    It will be interesting to see what the cost of aquiring the vessel would, probably equal to it’s scrap value, unless it be donated to a non-profit. The opportunity for crowd funding could defer some the aquistion cost. If it were to make it’s why to Buffalo, it would be interesting to see if could also be used as it intended “a traveling venue” supporting events in other great lake cities?

  • TrueWhite

    Def has more cachet than a Signature Bass Pro.

    • Randy503

      My doghouse would have more cachet that a Bass Pro.

  • Flyguy2pt0

    Right out in the water in front of the Lasalle Park Seaplane Ramp. This is an underutilized yawn of an area of Lasalle Park. This feature would be outside of any shipping channel within that tucked away bay there.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/632356207ec7a3ab34c5539fe00cc0398dfc221a0a2e0dc75f9d8b74075e351c.jpg

  • grovercleveland

    not my cup of tea, but if no tax dollars are used, eat your heart out

  • Sabres00

    Ive been saying this for years. Nashville has something similar (Although not as nice). It’s basically a barge that sits in the Cumberland river and the bands plays on that barge. Now this would be cool because it could move all the way from NT-Downtown.

  • Stina
  • Johnny Pizza

    “Traveling art exhibits below deck, from rotating Buffalo galleries?”
    I can’t wait to see the new rendering of the new Albright Knox floating art gallery from Matt R.

  • Fly Street

    This would be sooooo Amazing!!! Such a unique cross disciplinary treasure…someone should start a go fund me..

  • Mytwocents

    It’s kind of cool, but nothing I’d be overly excited about seeing. I wouldn’t pay much over scrap price for it.

  • Tim Smith

    As a member of the BPO and an alum of the American Wind Symphony (the group that performs on the Point Counterpoint II), I think this would be an awesome addition to the city’s architecture and performance venues. However, one issue I can think of is that fitting a symphony orchestra on this stage would be a challenge. It is custom built for a wind ensemble which is about 1/3 the size of a symphony orchestra. Notice the built-in seating and music stands in the picture. Climbing onto these things with an instrument was always an adventure!

    There is an air-conditioned recital hall/gallery in the rear of the boat, as well as living quarters underneath. I’m sure someone could think of an inventive way to repurpose these spaces. Having this vessel in Buffalo would certainly be another jewel in our architectural crown.