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Louis Kahn’s 41-year floating concert hall "Point Counterpoint II" faces demolition

United States - Jul 14, 2017 - 16:10   4067 views

Point Counterpoint II, a giant steel vessel floating concert hall, designed by world famous architect Louis I. Kahn now faces with demolition, according to Yo-Yo Ma's reaction published in The New York Review of Books.

An American-Chinese cellist Yo-Yo Ma expressed his sadness related to the demolition of this 41-year historic concert stage and invited the readers of the magazine to join the conversation to find a new home for Point Counterpoint II by writing to Robert Austin Boudreau and himself over an email provided in the magazine's website.

Point Counterpoint IIPoint Counterpoint II in California, PA

"After five decades, Robert Boudreau (who just turned ninety) and his wife, Kathleen, have decided that they cannot keep running the barge. Despite their best efforts, they have not yet found a new guardian for it," said Yo-Yo Ma.

"Lacking an alternative, in late July, at the conclusion of the Orchestra’s 2017 tour, this remarkable, mobile cultural institution will be broken down to scrap in a Louisiana shipyard," he added.

Point Counterpoint II in Dordrecht, Netherlands in 1989

Point Counterpoint II has been the waterborne home of the orchestra since its construction as a Bicentennial project in 1976. The streamlined, 195-foot long, steel vessel is equipped with a 75-foot-wide stage, the roof of which is raised up by hydraulic lifts at performance time. The stage area is spanned by an acoustical shell, and is equipped with a permanent pedestal seating designed by Japanese sculptor Yasuhide Kobashi. 

The arrival of Point Counterpoint II at the riverfront always causes a stir. The silver vessel, 195 feet long and 38 feet wide, once seen on a foggy day, was mistaken for a UFO!

Little Rock, AR in 1976

"While Point Counterpoint II might lack the solidity and repose that Martin Filler so eloquently attributes to Kahn’s buildings, it is no less monumental: it sails as a powerful, living testament to American creativity and to the elemental role that culture plays in human life," stated Yo-Yo Ma in his note.

"At a time when our national conversation is so often focused on division, we can ill afford to condemn to the scrap heap such a vibrant ambassador for our national unity, so I humbly ask that your readers join Robert and me in finding a new home for Point Counterpoint II," he concluded.

The entire ship is a floating gallery that showcases this summer contemporary art and crafts from the Americas. A woodworker from Maine handcrafted the oak tables that are set into the ship’s office and galley; and Finnish artist Eino Ruutsalo created the kinetic light sculpture that forms one wall of the art gallery in the lower deck.

A view of art gallery on board

Through the years Point Counterpoint II has been a glorious spectacle at many world-class events. She was there in New York Harbor for the Statue of Liberty Centennial in 1986 when the tall ships passed, and for each of the 13 ships, musicians aboard Point Counterpoint II played the appropriate national anthem.

Point Counterpoint II is on the way to Leningrad

She was there on the Neva River in Leningrad in 1989, when Soviet Russia’s Navy saluted her as part of their Navy Days celebration. Once again the Tall Ships gathered in 1989, this time on the Seine River to commemorate the bicentennial of the French Revolution, and Point Counterpoint II was there to salute their crews with their national anthems.

Leningrad and Paris were only two stops on the 3-year tour called “Ocean Blue Odyssey” that included 30 cities in 10 nations. The ship sailed the Seine, the Thames the Rhine, and through the Baltic and Irish Seas. Tours in other years found the ship sailing through the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean and covering more than 500,000 miles of the world’s waterways.

Top image: Point Counterpoint II in Stockholm, Sweden in 1989

All images courtesy of American Wind Symphony Orchestra

> via The New York Review of Books