10. March 2006

Contract signed for construction of music hall and conference centre at Reykjavík Harbour

A contractual agreement has been signed for the construction of the music hall and conference centre at Reykjavík Harbour.IPC will carry out the design and construction of the project. The building will be owned by Landsafl, and Nýsir hf. will handle the operation of the facility.The architects are HLT, Henning Larsens Tegnestue A/S, and Batteríid ehf.The engineering firm Rambøll Danmark A/S will oversee the engineering aspect of the project.The engineering firms Hnit Ltd. and Hönnun Ltd. will act as technical consultants. The building’s appearance is partly the creative work of artist/designer Ólafur Elíasson. Vladimir Ashkenazy will be Portus Group’s artistic consultant regarding the scheduling of events for the first years of operation.

The building

The design of the concert hall and conference centre is shaped by influences from Icelandic nature.The primary idea behind the building is to create a crystallised form with numerous colours taken from the immediate natural surroundings and to elicit a constantly changing emotional response in the viewer.Emphasis will be placed on the visible impact of the building.It will be well demarcated from the midtown area, a unique structure with a magnificent façade.The glass shell of the building will play a significant role in its visual appearance and will be striking, no matter from what direction it is seen. The organisational structure of the building will be very clear, with three adjacent halls for concerts, rehearsals, and conferences.This will simplify all internal flow in the building.The design will emphasise the use of the building for larger and smaller events alike through the partitioning of the conference space.

The objective with the construction of the music hall and conference centre is to build state-of-the-art facilities and to hold events of a quality level rivalling the best in the world.The building will serve as the Iceland Symphony Orchestra’s official headquarters.It will also be the largest and best venue for cultural events in Iceland.Its artistic policy will play a formative role in the musical life of the nation. It will call global attention to Iceland and will strengthen the country’s position in international competition for the hosting of cultural activities.It will also enhance quality, access, and offerings of cultural events for the public and will serve to promote the arts, support arts education, and enrich the cultural life of the nation.

Transformation of mid-town Reykjavík

According to the Portus Group proposal, the concert hall/conference centre building will be situated at the northern end of the lot.The building will stand partially on a landfill area that will be constructed in the so-called East Bight of the harbour, where the wharves will be moved outward.The total floor area of the concert hall and conference centre will be roughly 26,000 m2, which will include a concert hall that seats 1,800, a 750-seat conference hall that can be partitioned in two, a chamber music hall seating 450, and a small hall with space for 180-200 guests.In front of the concert hall will be a new square that is to be called Reykjatorg Square.At the back of the square will be a hotel roughly equal in size to the music hall and conference centre.

The proposal also includes plans for the development of the adjacent lots, which the winning bidder will purchase and build on at his own expense.The total construction involved exceeds 100,000 m2, plus a 1,600-space subterranean parking garage, and will transform the look of downtown Reykjavík.

World-class conference facilities

The new concert hall and conference centre will house the best conference facilities in Iceland.Next to the building will be a luxury hotel for use by conference guests.There will be an indoor passageway linking the two buildings.It will be easy to hold large international conferences and assemblies for specific groups, such as medical conferences, Nordic Council meetings, national assemblies of political parties and large non-governmental organisations, and annual general meetings of large corporations.

W Hotels Worldwide

Portus Group has made an agreement with the international hotel chain Starwood Hotels, which includes hotels such as The Westin, Sheraton, Four Points, The St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, and W Hotels.Both Portus Group and Starwood Hotels consider the construction of a W Hotel next to the music hall and conference centre an interesting option, as such a hotel would contain both conventional hotel rooms and hotel apartment facilities and would be operated in close operational contact with the concert hall and conference centre.W Hotels are known for dramatic, high-quality artistic designthat is somewhat different from that characterising traditional hotels.Starwood Hotels has considerable experience in working with conference centres that are operated independently but in close collaboration with the nearby hotels.

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