Dunard Concert Hall plan looks all but dead – John McLellan

Sir David Chipperfield’s grandiose vision of a concert hall is facing legal action and construction site problems, writes John McLellan.

Thursday, 19th December 2019, 6:00 am
Artist impressions of The Impact Centre - the proposed concert hall behind St. Andrew Square, Edinburgh. David Chipperfield is the architect

There has been no official announcement, but sources close to the Dunard Concert Hall now accept Sir David Chipperfield’s grandiose vision is all but dead.

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The judicial review instigated by the St James Centre’s American investors Nuveen is providing a credible cover story, but it’s the problems with construction in a constrained site and tough ground conditions which have done for it. When the much smaller Dundee V&A Gallery on a site free of constraints cost £80m, the original £45m concert hall price tag was ambitious to say the least.

As the search for a new site gets under way, the project team is said to be keen to speak to architect Richard Murphy whose design was passed over for Chipperfield’s concrete dome which so infuriated Nuveen. Murphy already has an association with the Dunard Fund as the designer of the music school plan for the old Royal High School which it bankrolls.

A problem for the Murphy concert hall design is the use of the RBS banking hall behind Dundas House as a grand foyer because RBS is insistent it should remain a working branch and as long as that is the case the chances of any kind of concert hall being built on the site are slim to non-existent. What could £45m buy at the Queen’s Hall?