The Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Elbphilarmonie in Hamburg
Todd Rosenberg


Hamburg, Germany

As visually striking as the Herzog and de Meuron–designed concert hall is—a glass tower perched atop a giant brick warehouse, surrounded on three sides by water—it’s the acoustics that steal the show at Elphi (as the locals call it), which opened in 2017. The central auditorium is covered in 10,000 gypsum-fiber white acoustic panels, each with a unique series of divots that scatter or absorb sound. No two panels are alike, but together the undulating, interlocking panels create an optimal sound map across the entire auditorium. The result is a richer, better sound for those occupying the 2,150 seats surrounding the stage. Acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota is even more focused on the response from the performers. “The more time they spend in the hall, the better their ensemble becomes since they can hear themselves and each other more.” —Kate Rockwood

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