Thursday August 17, 2006

Carnival Center for the Performing Arts in the news

The cover of Inside Arts, with a big photo of Carnival Center rendering

Here’s the cover of the March/April issue of Inside Arts. The cover story contrasts the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts with the Carpenter Center in Richmond in a standard success/failure scenario:

The geometry of the new Cesar Pelli-designed Miami Performing Arts Center, scheduled to open October 5, 2006, already forms the dominant profile along Biscayne Boulevard in the city’s Omni District—the emblem of a revitalized and quickly changing Florida metropolis and of an elevated profile for arts presentation.

Meanwhile, in downtown Richmond, Va., between Broad and Main Streets, the Carpenter Center sits dark and unused. And the ambitious performing arts center project set in motion by the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation—which involved the renovating and expanding the Carpenter Center and two other existing venues as well as constructing a brand-new music hall—is stalled in its tracks, perhaps never to be realized as it was envisioned.

The article goes on to point out the reasons for the Miami project’s success: a demonstrable need for such a center in the community, public support for the project both in votes and with financial contributions, and strong resident companies. It mentions, in passing, the overbudgetedness aspect and the unfortunate folding of the Florida Philharmonic. A pretty interesting read.

The cover cheerfully reproduces the the Miami center’s pre-construction mockup, which to the untrained eye looks like an aerial photograph of the center, downtown in the background. Of course the photo is a mockup, and the center as it appears in it is a computer rendering (although at least a rendering of actual plans—as far as I know, the parking garage seen on the right side of the image is a pure fantasy).

Speaking of parking, I recommended in that article going for the $20 valet parking rather then the distant $15 self-parking. Well, according to last week’s Miami Today, there is no valet company in place.

“I would like to say for the record that the scope of services in this agreement does not include valet parking,” said Jami Reyes, chairwoman of the [Miami Parking Authority]. She said the authority does not want to be part of “negative publicity if something goes wrong” with valet services at the center.

This suggests that MPA doesn’t believe it can provide valet services for $20. It also sets the center up for hiring another provider, for more then $20 per car, and having to make up the difference, since they’ve already promised their patrons that price. Which suddenly makes their profit on regular parking (which is 0%) look not so bad.

The Herald has had a pair of articles in the last week about the Carnival Center. The first is a glimpse of the center’s first year budget, with predictable results:

The center’s first-year deficit is projected at $551,476. And planners had to use extra doses of county tax money and bigger bequests from private and corporate donors to get it down from a first-draft deficit of $2.7 million.

A second article delves into the unpredictability of the acoustics in projects like this until after they’re finished and tried out:

At Philadelphia’s $235 million Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, where the duo’s firm, Artec, created an acoustical system similar to Miami’s, classical music critics at its 2001 opening blasted its sound as ‘’lacking in warmth,’’ even ‘’an acoustical Sahara.’’ And even after three years of tinkering, Artec wrote a report in 2004 recommending major, expensive changes to the acoustics of Kimmell’s Verizon Hall. Johnson and Nakajima promise Miami won’t encore Kimmel’s song.

Pretty funny, but it sounds like the Artec learned from the mistakes they made in Philly, and corrected them on our design. Concert hall acoustics is a fascinating, and endlessly complicated topic. More here, here, and here.


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  1. Onajide    Sun Aug 20, 12:23 AM #  

    You published this the day after I posted two pieces I copied talking about museum audiences being “flat.” I’m just thinking about how much money has been lost, wasted, or pilfered on this project especially after again visiting the Walker Art Center.

  2. Onajide    Sun Aug 20, 12:49 AM #  

    Here’s my link I totally forgot to post it: Nationwide Museum Reports