Hell Hath No Fury Like The Kimmel Center Scorned

An Associated Press article from Tuesday, November 29, 2005 reports that Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts is seeking damages from Rafael Vinoly Architects, the Center’s architectural firm…


According to the lawsuit,

“This action arises from an architect who had a grand vision but was unable to convert that vision into reality, causing the owner to incur significant additional expenses to correct and overcome the architect’s errors and delays.”

It’s no mistake that the AP article appeared in the Miami Herald, a newspaper located in a city which has the dubious distinction of becoming a case example on how not to conduct a PAC project (if you look hard enough, you can see the defunct Richmond PAC project in their shadow). I’m sure Miami’s PAC Foundation and architect are going to watch this case unfold with intense scrutiny.

Nevertheless, what’s really interesting is whether or not Artec Consultants Inc, the PAC’s acousticians, will be included in any of the legal proceedings. Furthermore, it will be similarly intriguing to see if there’s any mention of the less than enthusiastic reception to Verizon Hall’s acoustics from the public and press. As a matter of fact, last January, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that a recent study (conducted by Artec Consultants Inc.) concluded the hall suffers from a “relatively low level of impact” and blames the problem on “known construction deficiencies.”

That report from January, 2005 did not include a figure related to how much it would cost to improve the “known construction deficiencies”, but if these issues work their way into the lawsuit, I would be surprised if someone didn’t figure out a cost estimate.

Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride…

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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1 thought on “Hell Hath No Fury Like The Kimmel Center Scorned

  1. Really interesting stuff. The problem speaks to the still magical quality of exceptional acoustics — despite all the science — and the economic pressures that work against ideal acoustics (bigger halls with more seats, for example).

    It also begs the question of who looks out for the ”owner” of a new cultural facility development? If they only have the expertise of the design architect and their affiliated acoustician, who’s the expert that will warn them of things that might be wrong?

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