Hamburg, Germany has followed the lead of notable owners MIT, who sued Frank Gehry, and Dr. Edith Farnsworth, who did the same to Mies van der Rohe. Like the other celebrated architects, this time it’s Pierre Herzog and Jacques de Meuron, the 2001 Pritzker Prize Laureates.
Photo above of the Hamburg Concert Hall by DPA
As in the other cases, the center of controversy is sure to be a work that ultimately brings great notoriety and celebration to the owner.
However, it is only natural that if a client takes issue with the construction, schedule, approved design or scope, the wise thing to do is to go where the deepest pockets are. As we all know, in any group of people who create a building, it’s the architect who is sitting on the biggest pile of green.
Even though the city representatives asked to add a third concert hall to the project after initial plans and costs had been submitted to the city, how developed and detailed these were remains unclear.
But what set off the controversy is much simpler. The architects and GC were having more fun than anyone else. One night, the citizens of Hamburg noticed that the usual welders sparks had changed. They were more steady. It turned out they were chinese lamps strung across the roof deck. The entire construction team had begun throwing regular parties with the best view in town. And the tax-payers were footing the bill.
At Barkitecture, we love architects. But underestimating the cost of acoustic paneling by a factor of 5 and allowing the contractor to spiral costs out of control while they throw parties for their friends on the roof, is inexcusable. Hamburg’s citizens deserve reimbursement on the €246 million supplement to their original investment of €77 million.
Do not worry about Herzog and de Meuron. To them it’s just pocket change, given the weakness of the Euro against the Swiss Franc. (Hey HdM! Next time invite us to the party and we may not be so partisan.)