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Rendering of the Vietnam Theatre of Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera in Ho Chi Mihn City. A white rounded multistory building with point
Vietnam Theatre of Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera

A New Symbol of Local and International Arts and Dance

Project Location

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Area

222,000 SF

Phase

Concept design

Award

2022 American Architecture Award

The concept design for the Vietnam Theatre of Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera is intended to be an iconic symbol of the city named after President Ho Chi Minh. The city is dedicated to establishing a significant cultural institute that will present domestic and international music and dance performances, as well as fostering and training artistic talents in the fields of composition and performance.

Our design has embraced these visions: a strong conceptual reference via fluid integration between the interior and exterior surroundings that provide an iconic and state-of-the-art building deserving of this great city. The Songbird creates a dramatic statement for the new Theater of Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera on the Saigon River in Ho Chi Minh City and will draw visitors from the city and around the world to celebrate this culturally rich city on the Saigon River.

The Songbird

With a vast cultural tradition, Ho Chi Minh City’s pace of economic development is elevating its position as one of the most culturally significant cities within Vietnam. There is an increasing focus on aligning the cultural and economic development of the region to improve the world’s perception of the city’s commitment to the arts.

01
Concept

Integration

The city is dedicated to establishing a significant cultural institute that will present domestic and international music and dance performances, as well as fostering and training artistic talents in the fields of composition and performance. Our design has embraced these visions: a strong conceptual reference via fluid integration between the interior and exterior surroundings that provide an iconic and state-of-the-art building deserving of this great city. The plaza and landscape form a cultural living space that will draw people to not only experience the arts within but to inhabit the spaces around the building and engage with the landscaped terraces, attend events on the plaza, enjoy vibrant cafes, and watch a performance from the amphitheater all while experiencing life on the Saigon River.

Aerial view rendering of rounded building with layered white envelope facade along the Saigon River surrounded by greenery
02
Program

Active Design

Two main theaters are the heart of the project. The design offsets their location so that the patron is encouraged to move through the building, rising upward to experience the city from various vantage points. Exterior plazas and terraces at different heights in the building allow for performances and events to fluidly move from the interior to the exterior and provide flexible spaces that can be reimagined for more unconventional programs and different performance types. The enveloping facade is reminiscent of the wings and feathers of the songbird and the material is intended to create a feeling of movement as the sun moves across the sky.

Downstage view of dancers with red cloth lit from above center in front of audience at ground level and 3 balconies
03
Site

Local Inspiration

The building form is evocative of the local Saigon songbirds that are a tradition within the city, drawing the community and international visitors to hear them perform in the local parks. The beauty of sound as well as the graceful form is an ideal reference to the performances and movement that will happen within. Perched on the edge of the water, the building affords magnificent views over the Saigon River and the city, as well as promotes an iconic image for those approaching the site. As the front of the building reaches towards the water it forms a partially enclosed amphitheater that faces the river and extends out towards a landscaped plaza that will provide a vibrant public place for the people of the city.

Theater viewed from across courtyard. Undulating white wrapped facade comes to a point at center over triple height glass.

Award

American Architecture Award

Theatre, a white rounded multistory building with layered envelope facade in symmetrical sections separated at center windows
A New Symbol of Local and International Arts and Dance Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Museums and Cultural Buildings Category

The Chicago Athenaeum and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies

December 2, 2022

The Vietnam Theatre of Ballet, Symphony Orchestra, and Opera was recognized by The Chicago Athenaeum with an American Architecture Award. The awards honor the best, new, significant buildings, landscape, and planning projects designed and/or built in the United States and abroad by American architects and planners practicing nationally and internationally.

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Press

Elevating Design

CEO and Managing Principal Steven McKay, RIBA, LEED AP

press

CEO Steven McKay Shares a Passion for Design with designboom

January 16, 2023

This exclusive interview reveals McKay’s commitment to employee-ownership, the thrill of the design challenge, and the future of our firm. In the interview, the Vietnam Theatre of Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera is shared as an example of how we are leading with design.

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