Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 56

Thread: Walt Disney Concert Hall - Los Angeles

  1. #1

    Default Walt Disney Concert Hall - Los Angeles

  2. #2

    Default Walt Disney Concert Hall

    August 21, 2003

    A Hollywood Ending for Gehry Music Palace


    Slide Show

    LOS ANGELES, Aug. 16 — Lillian Disney, the widow of Walt Disney, favored the music of Lawrence Welk to Beethoven and Brahms. But that didn't deter her in 1987 from giving $50 million for a new music hall in Los Angeles. The gift was intended as not only a tribute to her husband, a classical music lover, but also as an expression of faith in the artistic and creative dynamism of 21st-century Los Angeles.

    "Mother wanted to do something wonderful for Walt, wonderful for the city," recalled Diane Disney Miller, the Disneys' lone surviving child.

    Mrs. Disney's wish is now about to be fulfilled. Almost complete, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is set to open in October — six years later than originally planned — with a set of three gala evenings, glittering gatherings of Los Angeles Philharmonic seat holders and musicians, movie stars and entertainers, and the philanthropists who were instrumental in bringing the hall about. They will come to Los Angeles to celebrate not only the concert hall but in many ways the city itself — for having finally built it. For this is a grand and expensive project that almost never happened.

    Hopes were naturally high when, more than a decade ago, Frank Gehry, the locally based architect, was selected from a field of 72 international competitors to design the concert hall, on Grand Avenue, atop Bunker Hill. The building, audacious with its swooping curves, was set to dominate downtown Los Angeles and to do for the city what the Opera House did for Sydney, Australia, and what Mr. Gehry's own Guggenheim museum was about to do for Bilbao, Spain. To its creators, the hall was to be as emblematic of Los Angeles as the Hollywood sign.

    But the project came close to collapse from 1994 to 1996. Spiraling costs, poor management, disagreements over the complex design and California's troubled economy led to a halt in construction. "By 1996 this project was dead, ready to be buried," said Eli Broad, the billionaire businessman and philanthropist and a top power broker in the city, who helped salvage it. "People around town thought it was a black hole that would never be built."

    The gala evenings in October will give the drama perhaps a fitting Hollywood ending (though little money for the hall came from Hollywood itself). Even more, the opening may give the city not just a cultural lift but a psychological one as well.

    "What does this do for the city?" said Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Finnish-born music director of the Philharmonic, a tousle-haired and still boyish figure at 45. "I'm quite amused by the fact that the hottest ticket in L.A. is a classical music/architectural event, not some Hollywood thing. I'm going to enjoy that. It won't happen again."

    The opening may also help alleviate the city's feeling of inferiority to New York, that it is a backwater of the arts. "In a project this size, which is always complicated and involves politics, it's impressive that people willed this to happen, and happen in the right way," said Deborah Borda, who was executive director of the New York Philharmonic for nine seasons and is now the executive director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. "It's something New York hasn't pulled off. The New York Philharmonic wanted to build a new hall at Lincoln Center. That seems like it's not happening."

    How the Walt Disney Concert Hall was saved involved a handful of this city's political and cultural elite who came in when the project was on the ropes. These included former Mayor Richard J. Riordan, Mr. Broad, Ms. Miller, Andrea Van de Kamp, who is a former chairwoman of the Music Center and now chairwoman of Sotheby's on the West Coast, and Zev Yaroslavsky, a powerful county supervisor.

    It didn't help that two of the central players, Mr. Broad and Mr. Gehry, both strong willed, had a strained relationship. In the mid-1980's, Mr. Broad hired Mr. Gehry to build a glass-and-steel mansion on a Brentwood hilltop. When the project dragged on, Mr. Broad dismissed Mr. Gehry and brought in another architect. Mr. Gehry disowned the house, but Mr. Broad still refers to it as his Frank Gehry house.

    The two men clashed again after Mr. Broad took charge of the Disney Hall project. (Mr. Broad, who is chairman of Sun America, a financial services company, made his fortune building tract homes.)

    Troubled by Disney Hall's high costs, Mr. Broad, who is one of the top art collectors in the nation, sought to bring in an "executive architect" in 1997 to complete Mr. Gehry's plans. Mr. Gehry sent in an angry resignation letter. Ms. Miller came in and allocated $14 million of Disney family funds for Mr. Gehry to complete his working drawings. Mr. Gehry remained. He said in an interview: "For a whole day I thought it was over. Had they gone that route, this building never would have been built." He said that "the complexity of the shapes" were "not normal" for an outside architect to complete. In an interview, Mr. Broad called Mr. Gehry "brilliant" and left it at that.

    A Bright Beginning

    The project began, of course, with the best of intentions.

    Ms. Miller said that her mother, who died in 1997 at 98, had wanted to build "something wonderful" in her husband's name. (Walt Disney died in 1966 at age 65.) "Music was part of everything Dad did," Ms. Miller said. The family often attended concerts at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, which is across the street from Disney Hall, and contributed money to it, Ms. Miller said. But the acoustics at the pavilion, a sprawling 3,086-seat multipurpose facility, were poorly suited for symphonic music. Philharmonic musicians often complained that their music sounded better at concert halls outside Los Angeles.

    Ms. Miller said she suggested a new concert hall to her mother. "The land was there," she said. "Unless somebody did something, it would be used for a big parking garage or something like that."

    Mr. Gehry won the design competition in 1989, envisioning a sleek 367,000-square-foot concert hall covering one square block, at First and Grand Streets, in an area that is the closest thing to a cultural enclave that Los Angeles has. Only steps away is the Ahmanson Theater and the Mark Taper Forum and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Nearby is the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and the Colburn School of Performing Arts, as well as one of the city's most significant new works of architecture, the soaring Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, designed by the Spanish architect José Rafael Moneo. County officials now view the 2,265-seat Disney Hall as the centerpiece of the renaissance of downtown Los Angeles and a major draw for tourists.

    The Albatross Years

    Business leaders and others involved in the project said that almost from the outset costs began rising out of control and that no one person seemed in charge of overseeing construction. Originally expected to cost $110 million and to open in 1997, the hall now has a price tag of $274 million. Mrs. Disney's gift of $50 million was eaten up by the high costs of architectural drawings and consultants. Coupled with the city's economic downturn in the early 90's and a failure by the Philharmonic to shape a full-fledged fund-raising effort, money for the project drained away quickly.

    Mr. Broad said years later that what began with so much promise was "transformed into a symbol of discord and civic apathy."

    "Everyone abandoned it," he said in an interview. "It was an orphan. No one felt responsible for anything."

    By all accounts, the leadership of the Philharmonic and the Music Center at the time seemed unable to deal with the financial crisis facing Disney Hall.

    Ms. Miller, the Disneys' daughter, was stunned. "I thought everything was going beautifully," she said. "I was sitting up in Napa enjoying my life and then I got a call. The bad news hit me between the eyes. It was a terrible feeling."

    Complicating the issue was the aftermath of the Los Angeles riots in 1992, which left locals and tourists afraid to drive downtown at night. Letters to the editor began appearing in The Los Angeles Times about why a costly concert hall, appealing to an elite audience, was necessary at a time the city and state were facing financial trouble and the social fabric of Los Angeles was fraying.

    "This was my big concern," Mr. Salonen said in an interview. "This whole project seemed to be sinking into the mud of superficial sociological and sociocultural debate. People had totally missed the point. Frank's design is not an elitist statement at all. Quite the contrary. It's a building that's open to everybody and belongs to everybody."

    This criticism faded. In fact, several political leaders strongly supported the hall. One was Mr. Yaroslavsky, today one of five county supervisors and formerly a powerful city councilman representing parts of the West Side and the San Fernando Valley. He said he became aware of the financial crisis facing Disney Hall in 1995. At the time, Los Angeles County had provided bond financing for a big parking garage underneath the concert hall. The garage had been built, but not the hall.

    Mr. Yaroslavksy, who is an amateur oboe player and adores classical music, recalled that Sally Reed, the county's chief administrative officer at the time, had said that the county had to start paying off its bonds and that the Disney Hall project was comatose. " `It's breaking the bank — we ought to pull the plug,' that's what I was told," Mr. Yaroslavsky said. " `Let's concede the hall will not be built, and we'll find some other use for the property.' "

    "I looked at her and said, `That's not possible,' " Mr. Yaroslavsky said. " `We cannot pull the plug. We'll never have an opportunity to build another concert hall.' I said, `We've been through the riots, an earthquake, the recession and now this. It's like hoisting the white flag and saying the civic leadership of Los Angeles can't bring the pony home.' I said, `Don't pull the plug.' "

    Saving the Day

    Mr. Yaroslavksy and Gloria Molina, another county superviser, representing downtown Los Angeles, went to Mayor Riordan and asked him to help raise private financing for the hall. "The fact is, we went to Dick not so much as the mayor but someone who had connections in the billionaire world, to put it bluntly," Mr. Yaroslavksy said.

    Mr. Riordan went to his friend Mr. Broad, who is arguably the top power broker in Los Angeles and a force in the philanthropic community. Mr. Broad recalled saying: "We can't let this disappear. It will show the world everything that's wrong with this city." He then began an intense fund-raising effort, teaming with with Ms. Van de Kamp, the chairwoman of the Music Center at the time. Mr. Broad and his wife, Edye, donated $5 million. So did Mayor Riordan and his wife, Nancy. The Disney foundation eventually donated another $25 million on top of Mrs. Disney's original gift of $50 million. Roy E. Disney, a nephew of Walt Disney and a top Disney executive, and his wife, Patty, also donated $5 million. Several people involved in the negotiations said that longstanding tensions in the Disney family had been overcome to create the hall.

    Another top contributor was Ron Burkle, a billionaire businessman who is the founder and managing partner of the Yucaipa Companies, a private investment firm based in Southern California. He gave $15 million. So did the State of California.

    Money from Hollywood is largely missing from the Disney Hall list. One reason cited by Mr. Broad and others is that corporations owning Hollywood studios — Viacom, News Corporation, Sony, AOL Time Warner and others — were loath to contribute to a concert hall named after a prime competitor. Another reason may be historical. The music and opera world in downtown Los Angeles was by tradition supported by the old money of Pasadena and Hancock Park. The newer money of the entertainment business has traditionally felt excluded.

    Mr. Gehry said that his singular goal, to make an intimate and comfortable concert hall, is actually a tribute to Mrs. Disney. The flowery and colorful carpeting and seats are improbably informal and cheerful for an auditorium.

    "She didn't ask for anything," Mr. Gehry said. "I know she did not love the exterior of the hall. She said she didn't understand it. But she said, `You guys know better than me.' I wanted to please her. She loved flowers and gardens. I said: `Lilly, I'm going to make you a beautiful garden outside the hall and make the seats look like a garden. The carpet, too.' She loved that. It really makes the feeling of the hall. It's sad she'll never see it."

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  3. #3

    Default Walt Disney Concert Hall


    I wonder how the new Mariinsky Theater will stack up against this.

  4. #4

    Default Walt Disney Concert Hall

    It is Gehry's best building IMO.

  5. #5

    Default Walt Disney Concert Hall

    The stick-pile pipe organ somehow fits, - just so strange.

    Glatter-Götz Organbuilders

  6. #6
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    New York City

    Default Walt Disney Concert Hall

    Beautifully refined. *It will definitely set a new cultural standard for Los Angeles. *I'm very impressed.

  7. #7

    Frank Gehry’s Disney Hall is a musical pleasure palace.
    Issue of 2003-09-29
    Posted 2003-09-22

    Frank Gehry is one of the most famous architects in the world, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall is the most important thing he has built in his home city of Los Angeles—or anywhere else in the United States, for that matter—so of course people are complaining about it. It looks like Gehry’s other buildings. It’s too showy. It doesn’t contribute enough to the downtown L.A. environment and doesn’t justify the $274 million (much of it from private funds) that it cost. These are inevitable, although probably not very significant, views. The building, which opens on October 23rd with a concert by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, has already received the kind of adulatory advance press usually reserved for blockbuster movies. In early September, however, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Scott Timberg, observed—in a piece that consisted of negative comments about the building—that “a distinct rumble of Disney Hall disenchantment has become audible.” A few days later, another writer in the Times remarked that the hall looked like “half-torn-up cardboard boxes left out in the rain, spray-painted silver.”

    There are those who will never respond to Gehry’s work—who feel that his intensely romantic, emotional forms are self-indulgent—and those people are missing an architectural experience of immense power and subtlety. There are also people who admire Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, with its swirling mass of titanium cladding, but who think that the Disney building looks too much like Bilbao’s second cousin, and like Gehry’s performing-arts center at Bard College, and his new business school in Cleveland. These are superficial comparisons. The façade of Disney Hall is more refined than that of the Guggenheim, and more sumptuous, even though it is made of stainless steel, a cheaper material than titanium. Gehry has not repeated himself here so much as he has expanded his architectural vocabulary. Most of Gehry’s recent buildings have swooping metal forms, but their shapes are different, their proportions are different, and their relationship to their surroundings is different. Disney and Bilbao are no more similar than buildings designed a few years apart by Mies van der Rohe, or Le Corbusier.

    It is ironic that Gehry is being criticized for not producing a building that will transform a dreary, lifeless downtown area, since that is what he did more successfully than any other living architect when he designed the Guggenheim in Bilbao. (The phenomenon is even referred to generally as “the Bilbao effect.”) He made the first truly popular piece of avant-garde architecture in our time, and suddenly everybody else wanted one, including his own city, where he had not received a major commission until 1988, when he won a competition to design the new hall for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Construction began a few years later but was stalled because of fund-raising problems and issues of design control, and the project ground to a halt in 1994. When the museum in Bilbao opened, in 1997, and Gehry became a household word, the largely unbuilt concert hall (it hadn’t got past the foundation and the underground garage) became a major source of embarrassment: Gehry, who is now seventy-four, had lived in Los Angeles since the nineteen-forties, and the city still couldn’t get a big Gehry project going. Several civic leaders joined together to resuscitate the building, Gehry updated his designs, and construction resumed in 1999.

    Downtown Los Angeles has only a handful of singular pieces of architecture—Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue’s Central Library of 1926, Arata Isozaki’s Museum of Contemporary Art of 1986, and Rafael Moneo’s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, finished last year—and Disney Hall is now surely the most distinguished building in the area. It is, indeed, monumental, but it isn’t fair to say that it doesn’t respond to its urban context, which is, more or less, like the downtowns of many other major American cities—a lot of glass skyscrapers surrounded by a lot of freeways. Disney Hall is set on Grand Avenue, a boulevard almost as wide as a freeway, and the site has a steep grade, making it even more unfriendly to pedestrians. Still, the building has a large public garden, and the gracious, flowing staircase at the formal entrance on the corner of Grand Avenue and First Street is far more inviting than any entry to the tired old Dorothy Chandler Pavilion—the Philharmonic’s former home—across the street. Gehry has placed the exhilarating stainless-steel sails that define the exterior atop a limestone base, but on the Grand Avenue façade the limestone disappears in favor of hinged glass panels that will open the building up to the street before concerts.

    The outside of Disney Hall lifts the spirits of those who see it from the sidewalk or, this being Los Angeles, from the windows of their cars, and the inside is equally inspiring. The auditorium is the finest interior Gehry has ever made. It is constructed of warm Douglas fir and is relatively intimate, with only about twenty-two hundred seats, spread over terraces, balconies, and mezzanines on all sides of the stage. The hall is set within a two-layered plaster box that forms an acoustical shell and soundproofing. Gehry developed its shape with Yasuhisa Toyota, a partner in Nagata Acoustics of Tokyo, who was also his partner at Bard. The focal point, above the stage, is an enormous pipe organ whose wooden pipe enclosures create a sculpture that looks like a stack of lumber that has just exploded. The ceiling seems to be made of fabric rather than of wood, a gargantuan version of the canopy on a fourposter bed. It billows over the hall. The curved wooden walls do not meet the ceiling, and in the space between them one can glimpse white plaster walls behind the wooden forms, washed with light from hidden skylights. The hall appears to float in the larger space.

    The shape of the hall and its warm, rich wood suggest a musical instrument, although I doubt that Gehry thinks in such literal terms. He is an expressionist—a romantic expressionist—who has always designed by instinct (even though he could not produce his astonishingly complex buildings without the aid of the most sophisticated computer software, a program called catia, used for the construction of aircraft), and what he did here was create a space that is not only acoustically suitable for listening to music but emotionally right for it.

    Gehry has, clearly, studied the Berlin Philharmonie hall, which was designed in the nineteen-fifties by the German Expressionist architect Hans Scharoun. Scharoun created the first modern symphony hall in the round, an asymmetrical space with dozens of jutting terraces. It is an exciting place in which to hear an orchestra—and, until now, the only convincing new model for a concert hall—but it appears almost crude in comparison to Disney Hall. One of the best things about Scharoun’s building, besides its intense, kinetic energy, is how democratic it is, and Gehry has picked up on this. There are no fancy boxes in the Disney auditorium. I moved around from the front of the orchestra to the side terraces, the mezzanines, and the balconies while listening to a rehearsal of a Mahler symphony, and I could not decide where I would rather sit. There is no obvious hierarchy, and, indeed, the upper-level seats offer a benefit that the seats closest to the musicians do not—the special pleasure of being able to take in the whole of Gehry’s space.

    The hall was endowed with a fifty-million-dollar gift from Lillian Disney, Walt Disney’s widow. Mrs. Disney, who died in 1997, was not, initially, much of a fan of Gehry’s architecture, but she was an unusual philanthropist. She didn’t insist that her checkbook buy her veto power, although she did tell Gehry that she loved gardens, and he designed the bright carpet and the fabric on the seats in the hall in an intense, abstract version of a floral pattern in tribute to her. Mrs. Disney collected Delft china, and Gehry also designed a witty fountain for the outdoor plaza, a mosaic of pieces of smashed Delft.

    Culture can be a potent redevelopment tool. We saw that long ago at Lincoln Center, and it is why great hopes have been placed on the role of cultural facilities at Ground Zero. But the Los Angeles Music Center has sat across the street from the site of Disney Hall for nearly forty years with almost no noticeable effect on the nearby area. It may be that restaurants, stores, and housing will rise up around Disney Hall and transform the neighborhood into the urban mecca that so many people seek, but I wouldn’t bet on it, and it doesn’t matter. Disney Hall is something rarer than a great urban street. It is a serene, ennobling building that will give people in this city of private places a new sense of the pleasures of public space.

  8. #8



  9. #9


    An architectural anchor

    The pull of the spectacular Disney Hall could have a transforming effect on downtown

    By Fred Shuster
    Staff Writer

    Sunday, October 12, 2003 - WITH ITS CRISP glass walls, audaciously curved facade and icy sheets of polished steel suggesting billowing sails caught in a strong wind, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is a jarring sight as it rises out of a colorless area of downtown's Bunker Hill.

    The city's latest landmark isn't lacking in attention. Weeks before the curtain goes up, architect Frank Gehry's block-long metallic structure is already leaving a profound mark on the city _ and perhaps its collective unconscious.

    Spectacular. Optimistic. Completely out of place. Those are some of the first impressions heard around Bunker Hill in recent days as construction barriers come down and musicians begin slipping in for rehearsals. They're the sort of comments that also greeted the inception of the likes of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Eiffel Tower, structures that sometimes got worse first-night reviews than Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring," but are now much beloved.

    Whatever the fate of Disney Hall, its spirited exterior, shielding the elegant 2,265-seat auditorium within, is a dynamic presence in a particularly gray part of Los Angeles' notoriously ragged downtown.

    "It almost doesn't matter whether anyone likes how it looks," says architect Eric Owen Moss, director of the Southern California Institute of Architecture. "Because there are so many ways of seeing it. One of the great things about the hall is it suggests that whatever the limits to our lives are, there are still possibilities. It stretches the frame of reference, whether the viewer realizes it or not. It suggests a state of becoming. Some people will be more aware of this than others, but the structure suggests that a lot of things that haven't arrived yet are possible.

    "It shows history doesn't have to be a matter of rerunning things that have already happened. It makes its case."

    As you walk through the place, you notice things like the floral pattern of the carpet, echoed in the staggered seating that spills over the Douglas fir-paneled auditorium. You hear the sharp scuffle of shoes on the shiny cedar floor of the venue, and you hope latecomers are kept in the foyer until a suitable break in the music. You gaze up at the massive skylights, and then see space between the sensual acoustic paneling and the shell of the building, a design, we find out later, that lends the music a hint of natural reverb.

    And outside the venue, near the public gardens, you notice how Gehry demystifies the building itself by exposing openings in the structure's steel skin to reveal its very innards. "Look at the Eiffel Tower," Moss said. "It's all nuts and bolts and pieces of steel. Here, the state of being unfinished is part of Gehry's statement."

    The next step in the cultural history of Los Angeles begins Oct. 23, when the new home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Los Angeles Master Chorale opens to a crescendo of publicity. Sixteen years after the project was first imagined and at more than twice its projected cost, Disney Hall has landed _ some would say blossomed _ and with it comes hopes for a reinvigorated urban landscape that might give Southern California residents a compelling reason to navigate the pot holes on First Street.

    "Ideally, this would be our Champs Elysee, a boulevard full of outdoor cafes, kiosks _ a true pedestrian space," said Tridib Banerjee, a professor of urban and regional planning at USC. "That's the kind of atmosphere missing in L.A. at the moment. It is an exciting building but, by accident or design, it's not very visible except from Grand Avenue. You can't see it from the freeway, so it doesn't add to the skyline. It will need must-see attractions because nothing will draw people downtown on its own."

    Grand Avenue may not be the Champs Elysee but it may have its Arc de Triomphe, thanks to Gehry. Those who've driven downtown recently have noticed the teeth-grinding repairs that have torn up the area in front of the Music Center from Temple to Second streets. The outcome, though, will be a two-block promenade with wider sidewalks, seasonal trees and native California palms.

    "Los Angeles is a complicated city," Moss said. "The fact that Disney Hall is downtown _ if there is a downtown _ starts to make that part of the city a legitimate place to offer what other parts of the city cannot. It allows one to make a distinction between a suburb, a periphery and a center, something that's not always been clear."

    The road to Gehry's long-awaited Disney Hall was long, treacherous and nearly had a very different ending. After initial funding more than 15 years ago, the on-off project stalled until 1998. "We almost didn't get here," said Deborah Borda, the executive director of the L.A. Phil who previously held the same position with the New York Philharmonic. "But we wanted to do this correctly, and it was worth the wait."

    The 293,000-square-foot Disney Hall embodies a mix of naturalistic tendencies, nontraditional materials and an unconventional imagination, inspired in part by venues in Berlin, Tokyo and Amsterdam. Along with the primary auditorium, the silvery complex includes two outdoor amphitheaters and an urban park and landscaped public gardens.

    "Gehry is probably the beginning of the next sequence of events in architecture," Moss said. "He's opened up enormous possibilities in a poetic and technological sense. This building is architectural poetry in concert with music. The other thing is, the building is not just for architects to decipher. This is a building about music and the performance of music and it wouldn't be too far a stretch to see it as a dialogue between the design of music and the design of architecture."

    Gehry (who collaborated on the hall with Japanese acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, who worked with the architect to create the widely acclaimed new concert venue at Bard College in New York), uses nautical phrases such as "wing on wing" to describe the work, which he says was inspired both by the orchestra and the effect of wind on sails.

    Such whimsy obscures the grueling toil that went into the long-delayed project. By the time Disney Hall was finally getting off the ground after a multiyear delay, Gehry had built the much-praised Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the exuberant Experience Music Project in Seattle. One of the key elements in all three designs was a three-dimensional computer program created in France for airline construction.

    "The computer allows you to draw configurations that are so complex that if one had to draw them by hand it would be almost impossible," Moss said.

    "The computer allows you to build, slice and dice with stone, metal and concrete in ways that are intricate and complex. Gehry has bridged the gap between the most imaginative conjuring and what could plausibly be built. Before, you had the dreamers in one corner and the pragmatists in the other. He's been able, in general, to put the two camps together."

    It remains to be seen whether Gehry's bold design will become a destination in itself, like the Getty Center high atop Brentwood. But he has given the city plenty to think about _ and thrown in a few curves in the process.

    Fred Shuster, (818) 713-3676

    For the complete schedule and to order tickets for Disney Hall events, call (323) 850-2000 or visit You can also order by fax at (213) 972-7560 or by mail by writing Los Angeles Philharmonic, 151 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012-3034.

    Tickets can be purchased at the Disney Hall box office from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

    A limited number of $10 rush tickets for seniors and full-time students may be available at ticket windows two hours prior to performance.

    Also, public radio KCRW-FM (89.9) is marking the opening of Disney Hall with a series of programs, including live broadcasts of the three inaugural galas, beginning Oct. 23.

    Ticket and schedule info

    For the complete schedule and to order tickets for Disney Hall events, call (323) 850-2000 or visit You can also order by fax at (213) 972-7560 or by mail by writing Los Angeles Philharmonic, 151 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012-3034.

    Tickets can be purchased at the Disney Hall box office from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

    A limited number of $10 rush tickets for seniors and full-time students may be available at ticket windows two hours prior to performance.

    Also, public radio KCRW-FM (89.9) is marking the opening of Disney Hall with a series of programs, including live broadcasts of the three inaugural galas, beginning Oct. 23.


    Where: First Street and Grand Avenue.
    When: 9 a.m. Oct. 20.
    Tickets: No charge.

    Copyright © 2003 Redlands Daily Facts

  10. #10


    October 21, 2003

    Can the Disney Hall Help Give Los Angeles a Genuine Downtown?


    The new Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry, is seen as a symbol of the city's new downtown.

    LOS ANGELES, Oct. 20 — Los Angeles, a city of suburbs in search of a center, on Monday came one step closer to finding one.

    The shimmering stainless steel Walt Disney Concert Hall opened Monday morning, a 16-year project designed not only to transform the cultural landscape of the city but also to be the cornerstone for the creation of a downtown area that already shows signs of reinventing itself.

    "We never had a downtown," Richard J. Riordan, the former mayor who played an important role in reviving the once near-dead Disney Hall, said before the ceremony. "We finally have one now. And Disney Hall is a symbol of that."

    Gloria Molina, a Los Angeles County supervisor who represents a swath of the city that includes downtown, said: "We're not like New York or Boston or Chicago. We've never had a downtown night life like most cities; we've never had a 24-hour city. This Disney Hall will finally make it happen."

    Whether a single building, however grandiose, can transform downtown Los Angeles is an open question.

    But Monday, as a harsh sun glowed on the swooping curves of the building, designed by Frank Gehry to look faintly like a ship with its sail at full mast, speakers like Gray Davis, the departing governor, and Eli Broad, the billionaire businessman and philanthropist who played a significant role in the creation of Disney Hall, made it plain that they viewed it not merely as another dazzling building but as a symbol of Los Angeles itself.

    "This building is about Los Angeles," Mr. Riordan said. "It's about possibility, it's about dynamism, it's about movement, it's about optimism, it's about upward mobility. It is appropriate it's here in the heart of Los Angeles."

    Mr. Broad said the hall, coupled with a planned $1.25 billion downtown development, which includes residences, movie theaters, parks and shops, would finally give Los Angeles a city center.

    People from the west side do not go to the east side and people from the San Fernando Valley do not go downtown, Mr. Broad said. "Now we can all unite in the center."

    The opening of the hall, an undulating expanse on a 3.6 acre arts complex at Grand Avenue and First Street, came at the start of a week of gala performances by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in honor of its new home, a $274 million project that almost fell apart in the 1990's and was salvaged at the last moment by city and county officials, wealthy donors, the Disney family and Mr. Gehry, who lives in Santa Monica.

    Mr. Gehry, speaking to a crowd of several hundred in front of the hall, said the building was "kind of a flower" to Lillian Disney, Walt Disney's widow, who gave $50 million in 1987 for its creation. Mrs. Disney, who died in 1997 at the age of 98, adored gardens and flowers. With a laugh, Mr. Gehry said that when Mrs. Disney first saw his modernistic design for the building, "She nearly went into cardiac arrest." But the Disney family remained advocates for Mr. Gehry even when the project almost dissolved.

    The hall itself, unfurling at the top of Bunker Hill, has already slowed and stopped traffic. Like no other building in Los Angeles, it is seen, perhaps quixotically, as a symbol of the city's new downtown, now drab by day and somewhat lifeless at night. But downtown has shown signs in the last year of vibrancy that has never been seen before, with new residences proliferating.

    At this point, the concert hall is the centerpiece of a neighborhood that is the closest thing to a cultural enclave that Los Angeles has. It is only yards away from the Ahmanson Theater, the Mark Taper Forum and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Nearby is another new landmark, the modernist Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, designed by the Spanish architect Jose Rafael Moneo. Steps away is the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Colburn School of Performing Arts.

    "We have more theaters, more museums and more universities and colleges than New York City," Mr. Broad said. "And we now have great architecture." He said the hall would "join the Eiffel Tower, the Parliament in London and the Sydney Opera House as one of the most photographed buildings in the world."

    The building, opening to a crescendo of publicity, encases 293,000 square feet of interior space. Sunlight plays on the building, altering its shades of color. Mr. Gehry, a weekend sailor, who has said he loves "the movement of sails in the wind," once compared Disney Hall to "a strange kind of sailing ship sitting in a box," and likened the auditorium to a dazzling ceremonial barge.

    The 2,265-seat main auditorium, which was designed with the acousticians Yasuhisa Toyota and Minoru Nagata, is surprisingly informal with boldly covered upholstery and carpets with flowery designs, a tribute to Mrs. Disney.

    Her daughter, Diane Disney Miller, said before the ribbon-cutting ceremony: "The more I look at the hall, the more I realize it's not a lofty structure at all. It's sort of hunkered down there." Ms. Miller said that with her father's name on the building the hall would be a welcoming place. "The hope in our minds, and Frank's mind, was to take away any sense of elitism. We want it to be a populist hall for the people. We want to demystify the reputation, the perception of symphonic music."

    The hall will be the new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which since 1964 has played across the street at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, an auditorium with poor acoustics.

    Today, speakers alluded to the long years of waiting before Disney Hall was completed.

    Lillian Disney donated the $50 million at the urging of her daughters. The Disneys had long attended classical music concerts at the Chandler Pavilion, and the acoustics led Mrs. Disney to make the contribution to build the hall on what was empty land. Mr. Gehry was selected from a field of 72 international competitors.

    The project was initially set to cost $110 million and open in 1997. But by the mid-1990's, construction was halted by the county of Los Angeles, which threatened to declare the project in default. As costs skyrocketed, as the city was beset by an earthquake, a race riot, a recession as well as bureaucratic bungling of the project and mismanagement, the project seemed doomed to turn into a grandiose failure.

    At that point, Ms. Molina and another county supervisor, Zev Yaroslavsky, went to Mayor Riordan and asked him to help raise money. Mr. Yaroslavsky said that he and Ms. Molina had sought out Mr. Riordan not so much because he was mayor but because, as a wealthy businessman, he had numerous contacts in what Mr. Yaroslavsky termed "the billionaire world."

    Mr. Riordan went to his friend Mr. Broad, the city's top power broker. Allowing the Disney Hall project to fall apart, Mr. Broad said later, "would mean a black eye for the city" and display to the nation that Los Angeles was unable to create a first-rate concert hall. Mr. Broad began a fund-raising effort with Andrea Van de Kamp, the chairwoman of the Music Center at the time.

    The Disney Foundation donated $25 million. Roy E. Disney, a nephew of Walt Disney and a top Disney executive, donated $5 million. Until then, longstanding tensions in the Disney family had kept Mr. Disney from contributing to the hall, said people involved in the negotiations. At that point, the Walt Disney Company also contributed $25 million.

    Money from the wealthy Hollywood community was largely missing from the Disney Hall's donors, partly because studios were loath to contribute to a concert hall with the name of a prime competitor.

    Deborah Borda, executive director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, said that the mood was nothing less than exuberant as the opening neared. The other night, one of the first free concerts was held for hundreds of construction workers and their families. As the music director of the Philharmonic, Esa-Pekka Salonen, a boyish figure at 45, stepped onto the podium, he put on a hard hat and bowed to the crowd. "They just went crazy," Ms. Borda said.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  11. #11


    Holy cow!!! how have i not seen this before? Although Ive seen the gehry buildings in spain so it actually seems like ive seen it before. Its very similar i have to say. There is another gehry-looking building in seattle which i think is a museum, its near the space needle.

  12. #12


    October 23, 2003


    A Moon Palace for the Hollywood Dream


    Disney Concert Hall, shown here during a rehearsal last month, is paneled with resonant Douglas fir.

    LOS ANGELES — Walt Disney Concert Hall, the new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is a French curve in a city of T squares. The T squares are loving it madly. Why shouldn't they? Disney Hall was designed for them. It's a home for everyone who's ever felt like a French curve in a T square world.

    Designed by Frank Gehry, the $274 million hall opens on Oct. 23. Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Philharmonic's charismatic young music director, will conduct "The Rite of Spring." Wrong season, right rite: Disney Hall is a riotous rebirth. Not just for downtown Los Angeles, where the building is situated, and not just for the whole sprawling mixed-up La-La. What is being reborn is the idea of the urban center as a democratic institution: a place where voices can be heard.

    Disney Hall has at least a dual personality and moods enough to spare. On the outside it is a moon palace, a buoyant composition of silvery reflected light. Inside, the light shifts to gold.

    Sitting atop the downtown Bunker Hill district, Disney Hall is the most gallant building you are ever likely to see. And it will be opening its doors to everyone who has fought for the chance to be generous, to others and to themselves.

    From some approaches Disney Hall first appears as a luminous crescent hovering between skyscrapers. The light playing off its surface is uncanny, though we have often been in its presence. It is the light of the silver screen and of the round reflectors used on photo and video locations: the light of the Hollywood dream.

    Now imagine a moon apple: a hollow sphere of lunar light. Somebody hands you a knife and says, "Cut!" How many shapes can you make? Peel a ribbon. Carve out squares of curving surfaces, concave and convex. Change the dimensions. Turn some slices inside out. Tweak. Stretch. When you're done, compose the pieces into a flowering cabbage. Then into a cabbage rose. Rearrange. Magnify. Reproduce the contours with large panels of stainless steel etched to a soft matte finish. Jump in and soar.

    The technique is Cubist. No seamless image reveals the whole. Disney Hall must be assembled within the mind piece by piece as you approach and walk around it. A Surrealist ethos also suffuses the design: the imagineering impulse of Disney as well as of Magritte. Pumpkin into carriage, cabbage into concert hall, bippidi-bobbidi-boo.

    Though the forms are abstract, fleeting images can be glimpsed in them. Drive-in movie screens. The curving edge of a bass cello. A ship's prow. Sails. The Rust Belt before the rust. If you're unwilling to mix your metaphors, you've come to the wrong place.

    These elusive, mutable images heighten the perception that a metamorphosis is in process. And they convey the idea that change is as much the product of the viewer's imagination as it is of a designers.

    A wall of glass is recessed beneath the steel flower on the Grand Avenue side of the building. The hall is entered here, through doors that can be lifted to create a nearly seamless continuity between inside and out. Even from outside, you can see that the interior design shifts to a different key. Stylized trees, recalling Gothic buttresses, can be glimpsed through the glass. The squared-off trunks and branches are clad with naturally finished Douglas fir, as are most of the interior surfaces. The warm wood reads as a modern version of gold.

    Serpentine lobbies surround the auditorium, which is set diagonally to the building site. The adjustment is initially disorienting, but you won't get lost if you let your intuition lead the way. That is the way to go anyhow inside Disney Hall. Ahead lies a gathering of hunches: let's try it this way. No, maybe this way. Make up your mind! I don't want to.

    The design of the auditorium started out Hans Scharoun's way. Scharoun's Berlin Philharmonic Hall (1963), gave Mr. Gehry and Mr. Salonen the idea of presenting the orchestra in the round. The elimination of the proscenium arch fuses musicians and listeners into a single spatial event.

    But the stage has not been lost. The entire room has become a stage. This impression is due in large part to the billowing wood of the hall's ceiling. The billows evoke the swags of an opera house curtain, perpetually going up.

    There are 2,265 seats. These are arranged on steeply raked terraces around the semicircular stage. Natural light filters into the hall through skylights concealed at the four corners. This celestial effect is baroque, as is the barely contained commotion of a pipe organ that faces the conductor's podium on the far side of the orchestra. The splayed pipes of this focal point bring to mind the bursting gilded rays of an altar piece by Bernini.

    Yasuhisa Toyota and Minoru Nagata are the hall's acoustical engineers. Custom dictates that the architectural design of a new concert hall be reviewed separately from its acoustical performance. Yet after listening to music in the golden hall, I am unable to oblige. A recent rehearsal of Mozart's 32nd Symphony nearly brought on an attack of Stendhal's syndrome, the notoriously romantic state of panic induced by aesthetic ecstasy. Audience, music, architecture were infused by a sensation of unity so profound that time stopped.

    Those immune to the power of metaphor sometimes scoff at the idea that Mr. Gehry's architecture is democratic. That idea is affirmed here by the materials, the multiple perspectives the design encourages, and above all by the organization of the seats.

    When I saw the models of the final design, I remember thinking that the seats on the top row of the house looked a bit sad. There are only a few, widely spaced: they appear exposed. But when I finally got to sit in one, I felt downright special. Seeing those seats from a distance is also a pleasure, because the people sitting in them register as individuals, just as the musicians do. The audience feels less like a mass, more like a diverse assembly. The hall is full of such reminders that architecture is a philosophy of urban life.

    Metamorphosis happens, and not only in Walt Disney's classic films. Cities do it all the time. Los Angeles has done it now. The building pulls together the strands of many individual stories and creates an extraordinarily gallant setting in which they can be screened.

    An urban metamorphosis is a victory for the inner life. Charles Garnier understood this when designing the Paris Opera, completed in 1874. The building itself was not the star attraction. The main event was the relationship between the stage and Baron Georges Eugène Haussmann's Paris. Figurative paintings and sculptures, the choice of colors, the progression of theatrical spaces from the boulevard to the proscenium arch: by means of such devices, Garnier translated the vernacular of the streets into an inner, psychological space. The result (to borrow Christopher Curtis Mead's term from his 1991 book on Garnier) was an "architecture of empathy." Artists and audiences were brought together.

    Radically different forms can produce startlingly similar effects. Mr. Gehry's design also embodies an empathic approach. Los Angeles has its own vernacular traditions. Above all the city has an ethos, to which Mr. Gehry's buildings have been giving shape for many years.

    If you want to make unity out of the city's architecture, you must get in the car and zigzag around town, turning the windshield this way and that, as if it were a lens, piling image next to image like a David Hockney photomontage. En route you will learn everything it takes to apprehend a Cubist building, perhaps even to design one.

    You don't need an architecture critic to tell you how beautifully this desert garden is ruled by Surreal juxtaposition. But let me point you toward a fine example of it as an ideal approach to Disney Hall: the fabulous Bunker Hill Steps.

    Designed by Lawrence Halprin and completed in 1990, this local landmark ascends 103 steps from the street opposite the downtown Central Library to the top of Bunker Hill. Flanking the grand flight is a set of up and down escalators; down the center, water cascades over rocks.

    Because of its height and the baroque curves of its treads, it is often compared to the Spanish Steps in Rome. Usually the comparison is accompanied by snickers. In truth the stairs are a comic piece of infrastructure: the baroque and the mechanized side by side; cold canyon corporate architecture with Mediterranean splash. But thanks to Disney Hall, Halprin's staircase has surpassed the Spanish Steps in cultural substance. The ascent now moves toward an emotional climax. Each skyscraper, plaza and skywalk is a step on the way to one civilizing thought: To speak is human, but to listen is divine.

    A distinctive skyline silhouette at twilight, created by Frank Gehry.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  13. #13
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    New York City


    Wonderful. Maybe someday soon Los Angeles can truly be New York on the Pacific.

  14. #14
    Senior Member JonY's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Sydney Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by TLOZ Link5
    Wonderful. Maybe someday soon Los Angeles can truly be New York on the Pacific.
    Sydney, also of course on the Pacific has already earned the title of being a New York type of city.

    I guess it goes without saying, but hey what the heck. Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall is so reminiscent of his Bilbao's Guggenheim. In concept, form and materials. Both are covered with sheets of titanium that change color depending on the time of day and/or the weather.

  15. #15


    October 25, 2003


    At New Disney Hall, the Time to Listen Has Finally Arrived


    Esa-Pekka Salonen, at Disney Hall's opening gala, conducts musicians deployed around the auditorium.

    LOS ANGELES, Oct. 24 — Will Walt Disney Concert Hall, the new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, bring urban vitality to the city's uninviting downtown area? Will it become the mission control center for high culture in Southern California, solidify the reputation of Frank Gehry as the visionary architect of our time and make Angelenos better people? All this and more have been hoped for in the rush of press coverage in recent months.

    Meanwhile back on the ground, Disney Hall finally and officially opened with a gala inaugural concert on Thursday night. One thing is clear: Los Angeles has itself a splendid and exciting concert hall for its dynamic orchestra. After a week's worth of free preview performances for schoolchildren and the general public, Thursday's gala was a red-carpet, black-tie affair, which attracted a starry audience of celebrities and statesmen from Warren Beatty to Warren Christopher. Mr. Gehry's stainless steel spirals were flooded by colored spotlights, and a fireworks display accompanied a post-concert dinner for patrons in a makeshift tent on Grand Avenue, which was closed to traffic.

    The question of the night, though, was: How does Disney Hall sound? Already many concertgoers and critics have proclaimed it acoustical nirvana. From this first experience I was impressed but not enthralled by the acoustics. Some of the ecstatic reactions from musicians, subscribers and critics are surely because of the immense improvement the hall offers over the orchestra's old home across First Street, the cavernous and acoustically indistinct Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

    The feeling of the space itself is critical to the pleasure of hearing music in the 2,265-seat Disney Hall, which is some 930 seats smaller than the Chandler. Working closing with the acousticians Yasuhisa Toyota and Minoru Nagata, Mr. Gehry has designed the auditorium in a way that makes it seem almost intimate. The orchestra plays from a slightly raised, proscenium-free stage surrounded on all sides by the audience. Even the seats behind the orchestra, which cost as little as $15, will offer an involving aural experience, not to mention the chance to face the orchestra's kinetic and youthful conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen.

    To show off the hall's acoustics and its suitability for ensembles of different sizes, this program, "Sonic L.A," offered performances that ranged from a solo voice — the jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves, singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" unaccompanied — to a vehemently brilliant account of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" for blazingly full orchestra. Yet while the small-to-large programming concept may have seemed a good idea, it proved problematic.

    Standing at the front edge of the stage, Ms. Reeves sang the national anthem with earthy expressivity, and her voice carried beautifully. Next came the Preludio from Bach's Partita No. 3 for solo violin, performed by Martin Chalifour, the orchestra's principal concertmaster. But it was a mistake to place him in the organ loft above the back end of the stage, for his playing sounded far off and small.

    The Bach was followed by "The Unanswered Question" by Ives. In this quizzical work, a searching solo trumpet and a harmonically astringent choir of winds pose unnerving musical questions over a bedrock of soft, sustained strings playing unperturbed diatonic chords. The manuscript to this work indicates that the strings should play offstage, as was done here, but this setup never works in practice. They were almost inaudible. And spreading the string players along the outside corridor of the lower balcony must have made it hard for them to hear one another, for the sustained chords kept slipping out of tune.

    Next two groups of brass players faced off from opposite sides of the balcony for a performance of a Gabrieli canzon, but their closeness to the audience just made the music uncomfortably blaring.

    Though it was an imaginative stroke to have the Los Angeles Master Chorale sing Gyorgy Ligeti's a cappella "Lux Aeterna," a 10-minute work of rapturously otherworldly sustained harmonies, placing the singers in the aisles on two sides of the hall was a miscalculation. All I could hear were the close-up voices of a handful of sopranos and high tenors standing right next to me.

    With Mozart's Symphony No. 32 in G, an eight-minute, three-section work originally intended no doubt as a opera overture, one finally gained a sense of the hall's true acoustical properties. Because of its design, the concert hall equivalent of theater in the round, the audience feels close to the orchestra from almost every seat. This lent a visceral quality to the Mozart, even the lyrically gracious slow middle section.

    Still, the fullness of sound in a concert hall comes not just from the proximity of the musicians or from sheer volume, but from richness and resonance. The grand old halls, like Boston's Symphony Hall and of course Carnegie Hall, positively shimmer with aural richness. During the Mozart, the sound at Disney Hall, especially the string sound, lacked warmth and bloom. The overall effect was full-bodied and clear but in a modern, somewhat clinical way.

    The modern aspects to the acoustics were a boon to "The Rite of Spring." You can tell how excited the musicians were to be playing this work in this space. Textural details, especially softer ones, like the astringent harmonies of the subdued woodwinds or the muted trumpets in the ruminative introduction to Part 2, came through acutely. And in the long stretches of pummeling, brutal music — for example, the thwacking percussion and dizzying strings during the "Dance of the Earth" — the sound engulfed you as it should but kept the intricacies audible.

    The highest praise I can pay to Disney Hall, though, is that after a while, caught up in Mr. Salonen's incisive, deftly colored, go-for-broke performance, I completely forgot that I was supposed to be assessing the acoustics. The next two programs, "Living L.A." and "Soundstage L.A.," should tell more.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. New York Philharmonic Agrees to Move to Carnegie Hall
    By Fabb in forum New York City Guide For New Yorkers
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: October 14th, 2003, 01:52 PM
  2. Carnegie Hall Unveils its Eclectic Third Stage
    By Edward in forum New York City Guide For Visitors
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: September 12th, 2003, 06:04 AM
  3. Shooting Spree at City Hall - Brooklyn Councilman Killed
    By TLOZ Link5 in forum New York City Guide For New Yorkers
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: July 24th, 2003, 06:42 AM
  4. Teachers College Residents Hall
    By DominicanoNYC in forum New York Skyscrapers and Architecture
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: April 7th, 2003, 04:58 PM
  5. City Hall Academy opens
    By NYguy in forum New York City Guide For New Yorkers
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: March 31st, 2003, 02:08 PM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Google+ - Facebook - Twitter - Meetup

Edward's photos on Flickr - Wired New York on Flickr - In Queens - In Red Hook - Bryant Park - SQL Backup Software