• Michael Albert

Enjoying the Exteriors

An Architectural Tour of Beautiful Music Venues

Since its inception, Vienna’s traditional Neujahrskonzert has taken place at the world-renowned music hall, Vienna’s Musikverein. Home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Musikverein is an architectural marvel. The building was inaugurated in 1870, and has since served as one of Vienna’s most sought-after tourist destinations.

It isn’t just the musical performances housed inside the building that draw crowds of people to the Musikverein. The distinct Neoclassical style of the building’s architecture gives the impression of an ancient Greek temple. Located behind the famous Hotel Imperial, the building’s stunning architecture is inspired by the artistry of the High Renaissance, and flourishes from classical Greek antiquity permeate throughout the building’s exterior design. From its iconic columns to the image of Orpheus on the building’s façade, the Musikverein is a remarkable historic site, whose beauty can be appreciated without even stepping inside.

Inspired by the annual New Year’s Concert at the Musikverein, each year, we present Salute to Vienna in performance venues across North America. At the moment, while these venues sit empty and their stages remain dark, audience members are unable to enter these performance spaces. However, that doesn’t mean patrons of the arts can’t enjoy the beauty of their exteriors.

The Musikverein was designed by Danish architect, Theophil Hansen, whose intuitions about architectural acoustics made the building’s Great Hall one of the finest concert halls on the planet. Simply put, the venue’s very design makes music sound better. Similarly, the performance spaces that house Salute to Vienna each year, were constructed with purposeful design, their outer structures enhancing the experience of audience members inside their walls.

If you’re looking for inspiring outdoor activities to help get you through the pandemic while practicing safe social-distancing measures, consider taking an outdoor architectural tour of some of your city’s local performance venues. Each building has a purpose, and each exterior has a story. Here are some of our favourites:


The Segerstrom Center for the Arts


Named after philanthropist and cultural leader, Henry T. Segerstrom, Orange County’s stunning arts complex is a spectacular site to visit. Located in Costa Mesa, this massive arts campus sits on a fourteen-acre parcel of land. The center houses four performance spaces, education labs, rehearsal studios, and remarkable pieces of public art.

In addition to the unique design of its performance spaces, the Segerstrom Center boasts other outdoor features that makes it the perfect getaway for Californians looking for a change of scenery. There’s the recently-completed Julianne and George Argyros Plaza, a 46,000 square-foot communal space, with an outdoor stage, restaurants, and picnic areas. Plus, it’s a short walk from the arts campus to the site of California Scenario, one of America’s preeminent sculpture gardens. Commissioned by the Segerstrom family in the late 1970s, this landscape composition designed by Isamu Noguchi integrates a selection of distinctly Californian flora and terrain with seven large-scale sculptural elements.



Roy Thomson Hall


With our administrative offices located in downtown Toronto, it’s easy for us to take the architectural marvels in our own backyard for granted. Built in the early 1980s, Roy Thomson Hall opened its doors to the public between the completion of two other major architectural landmarks, the CN Tower and the SkyDome (now Rogers Centre). The completion of these three projects signified a major shift in the downtown core’s overall design, changing the cultural landscape of the city, and its skyline forever.

During the initial planning stages, legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman worked with the building’s architects in an advisory capacity, to ensure that accessibility for patrons and performers with disabilities was prioritized in the venue’s design. For those of us in the city who need a change of scenery, try walking around the building’s circular design of sloping glass and spending a moment of quiet reflection by Roy Thomson Hall’s outdoor pond.



Ruth Eckerd Hall


If you’re a wildlife lover near Clearwater, Florida, a trip to the grounds outside Ruth Eckerd Hall might bring you up close and personal with a few unexpected visitors. Situated just a short distance from Alligator Lake, patrons visiting the concert hall are liable to see, well, gators! Just as we recommend staying a safe social distance from fellow humans, when you visit the exterior of Ruth Eckerd Hall, we should warn you about not getting too close to these reptilian music-lovers, either. This picture was taken by a local photographer just steps away from the box office, so watch out! Ruth Eckerd Hall is a stunning, Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired building, and a feast to behold, after you finish at the pond.

We know venues around the world are eager to welcome audiences back inside. But until it’s safe to do so, we hope you find the time to appreciate exteriors of performance venues in your hometowns, and look forward to their eventual re-openings.

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