Walt Disney Concert Hall

Designers: Frank Gehry | City: Los Angeles, CA | Project Type: concert hall
Date Visited: 11.27.12

Locations: 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Size: 3.6 acre
Cost: $274 million
Official Opening Date: October 2003

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An internationally recognized architectural landmark, Walt Disney Concert Hall is not only one of the most acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world, but is also an iconic example of deconstructivist architecture, a type of postmodern architecture with roots in the late 1980s.

The 3.6 –acre complex is famous for its stainless steel curves that challenge and defy traditional views of architecture, particularly those within downtown L.A. A difficult project to bring to fruition, the Walt Disney Concert Hall took approximately sixteen years to complete, from its beginnings in design conception in 1987; construction, which began in 1999; and finally to its inauguration in 2003.

Site plan. Image credit: rackcdn.com

Gehry’s architectural model. Image Credit: phaidon.com

The Walt Disney Concert Hall was designed by Frank Gehry, a world renowned L.A.-based architect and 1989 Pritzker Prize laureate. Though he had originally intended the building to be clad in stone, he later changed the exterior material to stainless steel, which he felt would better reflect the Southern California sun. The hall contains 12,500 pieces of primary steel, which weigh over 11,000 tons. The hall also features a number of outdoor spaces and gardens, most notably the Blue Ribbon Garden, which features the Lillian Disney Memorial Fountain. “Designed by Gehry as a tribute to the late Lillian Disney, the fountain pays homage to her love of Delft porcelain and roses. Hundreds of Royal Delft porcelain vases and tiles were broken on site and skillfully applied by an eight-person ceramic artist team led by Tomas Oshinski.”

As I weaved my way in and out of the concert hall’s steel curves from staircase to staircase, it reminded me of the smooth, canyon walls at Death Valley National Park. An impressive building with shady, lush gardens carved into the sides, Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall is an iconic addition to downtown L.A.–interesting enough to be recognized from a distance, yet with human-scaled elements that draw people to walk up and through its various spaces.

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