A marvel of architecture on Syngrou Avenue in Athens will soon host the multifaceted cultural events organized by the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation, as well as by other notable institutions promoting the letters and fine arts.
The foundations of the Onassis Cultural Center were laid in the year 2000. It is being built at the sole expense and supervision of the Foundation. The building, with a surface area of 18,000 sq m, is being constructed on a plot of private land measuring 3,000 sq m, and covers an entire block.
The international competition for the design of the building attracted 66 candidates from all over the world. The winning design was put forward by the French architectural firm "Architecture Studio", which provided for a building 89 feet tall, faced with white marble and glass, in a reference to the minimalism demonstrated by Ancient Greek architecture.
The building is destined to be a model of contemporary architecture. Its simplicity of volume and plainness of form have a powerfully monumental character. At the same time, the outside of the building lends it an expression of mystery, like changing scenery. By day, the white horizontal strips of marble on the facades reflect the light of Attika, producing a wave-like impression.
The opposite happens at night, when the white marble strips are illuminated in a different way and the inside of the building becomes visible, revealing the shell surrounding the large performance halls.
The building consists of:
The architectural redesign of both amphitheatres was assigned to Mr. Mark Foley of the British architectural firm Burrell Foley Fischer Llp, Architects Urban Designers. Τhe ground level bar area was designed as an overall work of art by the accomplished artist Aemilia Papaphilippou . The architectural lighting of both amphitheatres was assigned to Mr. James Morse of Light & Design Associates while the building-wide design of architectural lighting was assigned to Eleftheria Deko & Associates.
The goals of the Onassis Cultural Center are multifarious. Among them is to encourage the development of Modern Greek culture and its promotion outside of Greece, as well as providing Greek artists with a fully equipped cultural center where they can present their work.
The Onassis Cultural Center will also give foreign journalists, critics, and cultural managers a chance to become acquainted with the work of Greek artists. At the same time, it will give Greek artists the opportunity to make use of the Foundation's network of valuable contacts abroad, created in the course of its long-term involvement with the world of culture.
The Board of Directors has decided that the building will also be used for events organised jointly with foreign organizations, if such events are of interest to the Greek public, especially in the case of works that exhibit Greek elements.
Following the Foundation's decision to allow for the redesigning of specific wings of the building and the re-examination of the building's designs in general, in addition to serious delays by the building's contractors, the Onassis Cultural Center will be inaugurated in the year 2010.