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Megastructures: The World's Greatest Concert Hall

The city of Hamburg had an ambitious dream: an iconic landmark to rival the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building and the Sydney Opera. But were they taunting fate?

The spectacular site they chose was right next to one of the noisiest ports in Europe. And designing the acoustics of a concert hall is one of the toughest challenges in engineering. The project ran years behind schedule and hundreds of millions of euros over budget — yet the Elbphilharmonie was built.

Its sensational design is the work of star architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, the team behind Beijing’s Olympic Bird’s Nest stadium. Instead of putting the hall inside a dilapidated old warehouse, they boldly built it on top and wrapped it in a dazzling facade of glass. Just another episode in a daring saga of architectural mastery and madness.