In what may soon become a common phenomenon, if it hasn’t already, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro is complaining loudly about cost overruns in the Cidade da música project. (Story link here, in French.) The building, designed by French architect Christian de Portzamparc, has already cost $220 million and now needs between $16 and $33 million more to complete. The incoming mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes, has ordered a onstruction freeze while a four-month audit assesses project expenditures. Considering the project was authorized by the previous mayor from a rival party, the audit will no doubt fix blame on the previous administration. However, Paes has vowed that the project will be completed, somehow, even though Brazil needs to cut expenditures nationally by $550 million because of the global economic crisis.
The Cidade da música project serves as a cautionary tale for other publicly-funded architecture projects, even those that seem to have secure funding. To take one local example, Chicago will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Burnham Plan by erecting two temporary pavilions, one by Zaha Hadid and the other by Dutch architect Ben van Berkyl. The pavilions are scheduled to open June 19, provided all goes well.
The project freezes and the layoffs have definitely started. This project isn’t unusual. I know a bunch of architects and developers and RE attorneys who have been laid off.