The building was erected on the plain of Bara da Tijuca, one of the youngest areas of Rio. Its space, as conceived by the author of the master plan Brasilia Lucio Costa, is organized by two intersecting highways, and in the center of this "cross" is the "City of Arts".
A complex volume of unpainted concrete is limited by two horizontals - a terrace and a roof with a large overhang, and between them energetically curving surfaces contain separate functional zones. This decision is reminiscent of the heroic Brazilian modernism of the 1960s and is quite consistent with Costa's master plan. Also, the building is not lost next to large-scale commercial development, or in the landscape, including the ocean and mountains - and they served as a source of inspiration for the architect.
The “City of Arts” with a total area of 90 thousand m2 was implemented with interruptions for about ten years: this ambitious project, designed to embody all the best in Brazilian culture, barely had time to be completed by the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games (most of their structures are being just in Bara da Tijuca).
The building is raised above a park with tropical vegetation and water bodies: its main level, a terrace, which also serves as a city square, is 10 meters above ground level. From this terrace, the visitor has access to all parts of the "City of Arts", the main of which is the Philharmonic Hall for 1800 seats, which can also be used for opera performances (configuration for 1300 seats) and dramatic performances.
There is also a chamber music hall (500 seats), an electroacoustic hall (180 seats), a representative office of the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra, a music school, 10 rehearsal studios, a media library, three cinemas, restaurants, shops, and administrative premises.
Initially, the Brazilian project was called "City of Music", which makes it related to another building in Portzampark:
he built the eponymous complex with a similar program in Paris in the early 1990s.