The project, announced in May, will renovate the studios in the Towers, which Carnegie owns, to provide space and facilities for Carnegie's rapidly growing educational programs. The expansion is estimated to cost between $150 million and $200 million, financed through a capital campaign.
Some concern has arisen over the fact that one of the principals of the firm selected, Natan Bibliowicz, is the son-in-law of Carnegie Hall board chairman Sanford I. Weill. However, Weill told The New York Times that "I didn't play any role in this whole process" and that he learned about the selection from a member of the board's building committee.
The executive and artistic director of Carnegie Hall, Clive Gillinson, told the paper that Iu & Bibliowicz was selected over another finalist because it presented a better proposal. "We've been very, very clear all the way down the line," he said. "You can't actually disqualify someone because they're somebody's son-in-law."
The Times also observed that officials at Carnegie were impressed with a nearby Iu & Bibliowicz project: the highly regarded headquarters of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which opened in 2004.
Carnegie is dealing with another controversy over the project. The hall's administration notified its tenants in the Towers, a mix of residential and commercial users, that no leases would be renewed after June 30. While many of the tenants have moved on, a few longtime residents are fighting, in the courts and the press, to remain, though Carnegie has promised relocation assistance to all tenants. (Gillinson himself vacated the apartment he had rented in the Towers over the summer.)
Complete details about the Carnegie Towers renovation project will be revealed in early 2008, with work expected to start sometime in 2009. Carnegie Hall's three performance spaces — Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, Weill Recital Hall and Zankel Hall — will not be touched by the construction, and schedules for those venues will not be affected.