When the Fat Lady Sang: Christian de Portzamparc Nearly Built a Wild Opera Tower

While working on yesterday’s story about Christian de Portzamparc’s decade-long struggle to get his tower at 400 Park Avenue South built, we stumbled upon another striking New York project by  the Pritzker Prize-winning Frenchman that never was. For two years starting in 2004, Mr. de Portzamparc labored on a new home for the New York City Opera, to be built on a site that belonged to the American Red Cross, before the dream was shattered like the climax of an opera.

The project is poignant for a number of reasons. It was developed by A & R Kalimian, the same firm responsible for 400 Park Avenue South. When the plan fell through, the opera continued to hunt for a new home, only finding  one this year at BAM in Brooklyn, far from Lincoln Center. And this was only after a labor dispute nearly shut the whole show down for good. And the unusual appeal of New York to Mr. de Portzamparc—not unlike his countryman Jean Nouvel—cannot be ignored.

This video of the project shows just how daring, if ill-fated, New York’s cultural projects can be. It is strange that whomever made it chose a techno track to back it, though.

mchaban [at] observer.com | @MC_NYC