An early Frank Gehry design—the Merriweather Post Pavilion by the former firm Gehry, Walsh, and O’Malley—has suffered an unexpected roof collapse at the tail end of a $55 million renovation. One of the largest music venues in the D.C. area, the 19,000-seat concert stage in Columbia, Maryland, now looks like a demolition site. Fortunately, the collapse left no injuries and the venue operator still plans to reopen on schedule in July.
First unveiled in 1967, the open-air pavilion is now one of the first Gehry buildings to be significantly altered. The redesign team, led by JP2 Architects of Baltimore, had decided to raise the structure’s original roof, a key feature of the stage, to improve sightlines.
It was during this process—raising the roof 20 feet with a hydraulic lift—that the structure collapsed, possibly due to wind. The Merriweather’s operating company, I.M.P., now plans to build a new roof on schedule for the summer concert season.
“The winds of fate prevailed and decided that, instead of simply raising the roof, we should just go ahead and build a new one,” wrote Seth Hurwitz of I.M.P. in a statement, reproduced in the Instagram post above. “Was not our decision but the bright side is all the money we save on imploding.”