Floating Concert Hall - Point Counterpoint II Louis Kahn and My Additional Design Proposal

November 24, 2020

In the 1957 Robert Boudreau founded the American Wind Symphony Orchestra. Originally, they would tow a barge along the Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, and Mississippi Rivers and pull up to a shore to perform on the barge. In the 1970s Robert Boudreau commissioned Louis Kahn to design a self-contained, self-propelled concert stage with a pop-up clamshell roof plus a mobile museum with an on-board theater for children, exhibition spaces, workshop rooms, and crew facilities. The SS Point Counterpoint II was completed in 1976, 2 years after Kahn’s death. The barge has been all around the American waters and throughout Norther Europe. After 40 years on the water the barge is in need of some major repairs. Robert Boudreau is now 90 and retired from the orchestra he created and wants to sell the barge to become scrap metal or to a potential buyer that can maintain the barge in working condition. There has been talk about the barge being sent to the Chicago Riverwalk, or Estonia where Louis Kahn was from. Most likely the barge will be transported to New York to be permanently anchored at a former brickyard for future performances.

I appreciate the barge not only for its futuristic Star Wars like appearance but also its unique function to share music and culture across borders. lt is a concept that 1 have never seen before and really appreciate the idea that the combined music and architectural experience gained by the visitors of the barge can be shared in any location around the world that is close to the water. The structure of the convert hall is a barge that would typically be used for shipping commodities. Originally the orchestra group used an actual barge. The design by Louis Kahn is based off a barge with the additional elements of a pop-up audio shell with two spaces on both ends for a museum and offices. The atmosphere that the space creates comes from the stainless-steel material and the round window and door elements. The overall appearance is space-like and "futuristic" even though it was built over 40 years ago. The connection to the shore is simple, it is just docked against a shore that permits it to be there and people can enter from the land into the orchestra hall to see a performance. The context is always changing which is perhaps why Louis Kahn created a unique style for the barge so that it would never really be able to "fit-in" to its context but instead contrast in a sculptural way.


Below you can see my interpretation of Louis Kahn's concept through my design lens.


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JJ Sterling
As the co-founder of Urban Splatter and an architecture graduate from Chicago, I thrive on crafting a digital nexus where architectural innovation intersects with boundless digital opportunity. My academic roots in the Windy City's rich architectural tapestry inspire a unique vision for Urban Splatter's journey into the ever-evolving digital frontier of design. Join us as we navigate the exciting confluence of structure, style, and technology.

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