It's like March Madness, but for architecture buffs: The Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation and the City of Sarasota have selected six architecture firms as semi-finalists in the competition to see who will design Sarasota's new performing arts center at The Bay.

The six firms to make the list are Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Foster + Partners; Gehry Partners, LLP; Henning Larsen; Renzo Piano Building Workshop; and Snøhetta.

Forty-three companies originally expressed interest in working on the project. That list was then narrowed to 18 firms that were invited to submit proposals. The six semi-finalists were picked from that group of applicants.

The semi-finalists come from all over the world, with headquarters in New York, Los Angeles, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Italy and Norway, and they have all worked on major cultural projects around the globe. (You can see examples of each firm's work in the slideshow above.)

In May, the six semi-finalists will be narrowed to a list of three finalists that will be invited to visit Sarasota for the next round of the selection process. The current timeline calls for the performing arts center to open in 2028, with a projected price tag of $275 million-$300 million. Half of the funding is expected to come from private philanthropy and the other half from government funds.

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