• Germany's news in English
 

Hamburg sues over pricey, late concert hall

Published: 03 Feb 2012 16:08 GMT+01:00

The Elb Philharmonic concert hall already dominates the skyline of the Hamburg harbour, where it was planned to be the vanguard of an extensive redevelopment.

Designed by Swiss duo Herzog & de Meuron it sits atop of an old brick warehouse and is made primarily of glass.

But the project has run into massive problems, plunging the city government and construction conglomerate Adamanta, which includes German building giant Hochtief, into years of strife over spiralling costs and disappearing due-dates.

On Friday Hamburg’s district court gave city authorities the go-ahead to sue Adamanta.

The city was initially prepared to contribute €77 million to the project – but this figure has since gone up by nearly five times to more than €323 million – more than half the expected €600 million total cost. And the original completion date of 2010 has been pushed back to 2014.

“The city has a good chance of getting money back from Hochtief,” said Heribert Leutner, head of the city’s project’s management association.

“But the case is complicated and could last for a very long time.”

Click here for photos of the building

Complications arose almost as soon as construction started in 2007, prompting several requests for more public funding within that year.

Large sections of the building were redesigned the following year, which pushed costs up even further. And a stream of problems with the architects and the construction conglomerate followed, also making the project more expensive.

The building’s designers had underestimated certain costs – such as an acoustic panelling for the main concert hall which cost five times as much as expected, adding more than €10 million to the bill.

They also added a third concert hall to the project after initial plans and costs had been submitted to the city.

When completed, the project will also include a hotel and 45 private apartments.

DPA/DPAD/The Local/jcw

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

23:58 February 3, 2012 by pepsionice
A little story here, which most Germans never caught. About twelve years ago....this huge problem popped up with a concert arena in Koln. In the early 1990s....some city folks got this idea about begging massive gov't funds to buy up a rundown area of Koln near the city-centre. Then they wanted funds to build this convention center/concert center/arena/etc.

The gov't sent an expert on projects like this and eventually he came to realize after four months....that it would NEVER pay for itself or it's monthly bills. They could run disco parties at it weekly, bring in top bands every Friday and Saturday, and have various shows done there....but it'd never pay for the original cost or the continued operations cost. He filled out the report and strongly discouraged this from ever being done. The report went into a box, and was never shown to anyone.

Months passed, and finally the new Koln center was done. They had major events planned almost nightly for the first month. But around four months into this operation....there just wasn't enough big name events to make the operational cost work. They had security folks and clean-up folks on salary.....and they barely could cover just them and the utilities. The city was getting dragged into more and more bills for the upkeep and general operation. So finally, someone in the city council started to complain about this deal. An investigation occurred, and they finally found this report of the anticipated value of the center.

I'm making a pretty educated guess that an expert was hired and actually predicted the Hamburg operation would go the same way, and that report got stuffed into a box. This is Germany, and this is how all municipal projects get built....sadly.
09:57 February 4, 2012 by twisted
pepsionice has probably got it right. To me, this project is the result of very bad planning and design followed by Hochtief probably under bidding with the whole idea of making profit on modifications to the original contract (common practice in contracting). And I suspect some folks in the Hamburg government are probably getting some under the table payments on this whole thing as well. Hamburg's white elephant.
10:43 February 4, 2012 by lucksi
As long as you hand out contracts to those who handed in the lowest offer and not put it in writing that everything that costs more is problem of the builders and not the state as well as penalties for late finishes; stuff like this will happen over and over again.
13:22 February 4, 2012 by boopsie
The Elb Philharmonic is a scandal and a monstrosity. All that money for a giant cream puff showpiece in the middle of Hamburg harbor and no further support for Hamburg artists themselves. No artist's life will be improved because some money sucking gargantuan gargoyle predominates the skyline. They will still be performing for the same low salaries but the rich burger businessmen in town will be able to factiously brag to their out of town friends that Hamburg has become a cultural landmark.

This whole thing would be a joke if one didn't know how much the music schools, jazz clubs and other art institutions in Hamburg need that money.
15:23 February 4, 2012 by Bruno53
Well, we can't blame British RAF Field Marshal Harris nor USAAF Gen Spaats for filling the German cities with ridiculous modern buildings like this ugly "concert hall' in Hamburg.
17:26 February 4, 2012 by JDee
wait till you see what happens in Stuttgart, the new train station project is going to bankrupt the city, it will be this situation x20, the corruption was clearly exposed beforehand but the sheeple just go into denial, they can't deal with the idea that authority figures are so bad, btw the I noticed that the Minister President ot Hessen recently finished his term and went straight into a job with Hochtief/Bilfinger Berger. That's how it works, if you want to see what goes on in B-W look at the S21 stuff. Think about this every day when you are hard at work to pay your taxes!
09:25 February 5, 2012 by wood artist
While I'm not against "modern" architecture, and find some of it very interesting, it sometimes seems the designers of buildings like this simply want to create controversy by stretching visual images beyond what can be constructed using current methods.

My father was an architect by trade, and often spoke of a simple rule: Form follows Function. In other words, if it doesn't "work" how great it looks doesn't matter. This appears to be another case of ignoring that rule. If you visit Köln, you'll discover a wonderful brick plaza outside the concert hall. You'll also discover that there are employees stationed at the edge of the area all the time, paid to ensure that people never walk on the huge plaza. Why? Well, it seems that the plaza is actually the ceiling of the concert hall, and the noise of people walking on is audible inside, thus interrupting the concert sound.

Whoops! Not only was the whole idea wasted, but they pay these folks every day to stand around and keep people out of an area clearly designed for people. It' s like building a new park, and then keeping everyone out.

This whole mess should go right back to the architect...and that firm should pay for the entire overrun. Of course, signing a "cost plus" contract is fairly dumb in the first place. Get a firm price, and then expect the promise to be met!

wa
Today's headlines
'Blackfacing' is Anglicism of the Year
They may be collecting for charity, but this is not really OK. Photo: DPA

'Blackfacing' is Anglicism of the Year

"Blackfacing", used by Germans to describe white people painting their skin dark to mimic black people, has been named Anglicism of the Year by a jury of linguists. READ  

Cocaine-cop trial shakes Bavarian Alps
File photo: DPA

Cocaine-cop trial shakes Bavarian Alps

For 20 years no-one noticed that the head of the drug squad in Kempten, Bavaria, was on a personal rampage of narcotics- and domestic abuse - until his wife shopped him for the €250,000 brick of cocaine he had stashed. But the local population isn't buying the story. READ  

Merkel wishes Tsipras 'strength and success'
Photo: DPA

Merkel wishes Tsipras 'strength and success'

Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Greece's new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday and wished him "much strength and success" after his anti-austerity party's election victory. READ  

Refugees suffer over 200 attacks in 2014
Swastika graffiti at a refugee home in Bavaria with text reading "No asylum seekers". Photo: DPA

Refugees suffer over 200 attacks in 2014

Refugee NGOs' first annual report on violence against asylum seekers found that there were over 200 attacks on people and accommodation in 2014. READ  

'No German identity without Auschwitz'
President Gauck addressing the Bundestag on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Photo: DPA

'No German identity without Auschwitz'

President Joachim Gauck on Tuesday warned Germans against drawing a line under the Holocaust as the Bundestag (parliament) opened a day of commemorations on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. READ  

Handball! Neuer blows whistle on wax double
Manuel Neuer at the inauguration of his double in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Handball! Neuer blows whistle on wax double

Madame Tussauds' hottest new effigy was unveiled to the public in Berlin on Tuesday, costing a euro for each of the 150,000 hairs on keeper Manuel Neuer's head. Pity about the handball goal frame though… READ  

Railway union threatens strike over €2
EVG members outside a station during a 2013 strike. Photo: DPA

Railway union threatens strike over €2

As railway operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) continues negotiations with train drivers' union GDL, its other major union EVG has threatened a strike over pay differences between employees. READ  

Dresden tolerance concert draws 22,000
Photo: DPA

Dresden tolerance concert draws 22,000

As Pegida supporters and opponents clashed in Hanover, musicians threw a free concert in central Dresden on Monday evening to show another side to the city famous for spawning the anti-Islam movement. READ  

Germany remembers horror of Auschwitz
"Work will set you free," the gate at Auschwitz-Birkenau tells inmates. Photo: DPA

Germany remembers horror of Auschwitz

Chancellor Angela Merkel joined survivors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Berlin on Monday to open a series of events dedicated to the end of the Holocaust camp regime 70 years ago. READ  

JobTalk Germany: Entrepreneur series
'Work I love and a rewarding family life'
Working mum photo: Shutterstock

'Work I love and a rewarding family life'

Melanie Fieseler is a British business/career consultant and coach, and founder of Berlin-based WorkSmart. She is on a mission to help ambitious mums like herself successfully combine motherhood with building a fulfilling and rewarding career or business. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
The rise and spread of Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Photo: DPA
Politics
The Local's report from Pegida's largest ever demonstration.
Sponsored Article
Top-notch tech boosts bilingual schools
National
Six stories that will rock Germany this year
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Photo: DPA
National
What were your favourite news stories of 2014?
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

1,806
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd