Architecture Goes to the Opera

The Swiss architects bring their rough-edged, aggressive style to the Met as set designers for Attila.

VitraHaus

Herzog and de Meuron might be rock stars abroad—their just-opened VitraHaus museum for the furniture company's Weil am Rhein, Germany campus is astonishing (thanks, in part, to Iwan Baan's insanely good photographs). But here in the States, they've had a rough few years. After their success with 40 Bond, their follow-up, 56 Leonard, stalled and their plan for the Parrish Art Museum had to be scaled back. Hear the fat lady singing? Their show's not over yet; in fact, it just got started.

Verdi's opera Attila debuted Tuesday night at the Metropolitan Opera with a set design by Herzog and de Meuron with Miuccia Prada. The set starts out as rubble and transforms to verdant marshland to show the collapse of the Roman Empire at the hands of Attila the Hun and the eventual settling of Venice. It marks a full-circle return to the birth of modern architecture at the Bauhaus when designers worked on ballets as well as buildings, and the happy continuation of a recent trend of architects creatively rethinking performance spaces, like REX/OMA's Charles Wyly Theater in Dallas, Jean Nouvel's Copenhagen Concert Hall, Gromshaw's EMPAC building at RPI, or Foster+Partners' Winspear Opera House.

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[More pics at Architect's Newspaper]

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