Hirshhorn Plaza

Fourth in a Series of Hirshhorn and Library of Congress Collaborations 
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
12–2 pm
Library of Congress, Jefferson Building Room 119 
Washington, DC

Scholar and architectural historian Victoria Newhouse will talk with Hirshhorn Director Richard Koshalek about her new book, Site and Sound: The Architecture and Acoustics of New Opera Houses and Concert Halls (The Monacelli Press, 2012) Wednesday, Sept. 12, at noon at the Library of Congress. In the fourth collaboration between the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, Newhouse will discuss her recent publication charting the course of performing arts architecture from ancient Greece to the recent transformation of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. In her richly illustrated book, Newhouse argues that this is a golden age in opera house design in which new halls respond in unprecedented ways to the needs of contemporary musicians. Newhouse’s conversation with Koshalek will also touch on the trend of arts institutions embracing temporary, pop-up structures as they move away from vast, multimillion-dollar additions.

This event is free and open to the public. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. It will take place in Room 119 in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m. and the event will begin promptly at noon.

Newhouse’s Site and Sound: The Architecture and Acoustics of New Opera Houses and Concert Halls begins with an historic overview to contextualize the iconic theater architecture of the late 20th century and its relationship to the dramatic new projects now underway. Newhouse examines the link between acoustics and architecture and includes personal anecdotes about a wide range of architects, acousticians, conductors, composers and performers consulted during her research. Alongside the concert halls themselves, Newhouse critiques the cultural context and ideas behind these surprisingly idiosyncratic representatives of regional political power. The book concludes with a worldwide tour of the next generation of opera houses and concert halls, including those just completed, currently under construction or merely hoped for. 

Newhouse is an independent scholar and founder of the Architectural History Foundation, a non-profit publisher of scholarly books, which operated from 1978 until 1994. Her other books include Wallace K. Harrison: Architect (1989), Towards a New Museum (1998, expanded edition 2006) and Art and the Power of Placement (2005). She is a frequent contributor to Architectural DigestArchitectural Record and ARTnews. She recently completed a chapter on the architecture of concert halls and opera houses that will be included in a forthcoming book by Gérard Mortier on the future of opera.