Friday, January 26, 2007

An Architectural Delight

Imagine yourself standing on the corner of Grand Avenue and First Street in downtown Los Angeles…

Welcome to the Walt Disney Concert Hall in the historic Bunker Hill section of downtown Los Angeles.

Postmodern architect Frank Gehry, renowned for designing the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, created this visually peculiar structure that looms before you. It's the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Gehry's stainless steel exterior was designed to resemble a ship with its mast at full sail, to create the sensation of travelling along a ceremonial barge to music. Look closely and see the sails stretching across the cityscape while at the same time reaching down inviting you to stop, look, and surrender to your imagination. Are you sailing away or getting seasick?

If you don't see a sailing ship, what do you see? A blooming flower? A huge heap of steel? An abstract interpretation of heaven? Hell? Whatever your personal reaction, you can be certain it's been a subject of heated debate amongst Los Angelenos.

This 293,000 square foot structure has 22 million pounds of steel wrapping its exterior like a coat or armor. With no two pieces of steel alike, some weigh as much as 165,000 pounds. Many of the 12,500 pieces used were as short as 13 inches or as long as 110 feet. Placed end-to-end they would stretch 49 miles. That's over 862 football fields!

In 1987 Lillian Disney donated an initial $50 million to create a world-class, acoustically superior, performance center for the people of Los Angeles. It would stand as a memorial to Walt Disney's love of the arts. The Disney family's contribution would eventually exceed $100 million.

The structure's controversial final price tag was over $270 million, and construction was finally completed in 2003.

Inside you'll find a distinct contrast to the steel exterior with a predominantly wood interior. Douglas Fir to be exact.

Curved ceilings and swerving interior walls help create an incredible acoustic experience.

The main auditorium seats 2,265 and features a pipe organ with 6,125 pipes.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall is a modern Los Angeles landmark bridging the city's past to the present, with a nod to the future.

And that concludes our tour.

Thank you and have a nice day.


Owen said...

I *like* the look of that! But does it sound ok? I was thrilled to visit the MoMA in New York a couple of years ago and appreciate the building as art as well as the art it housed. An experiment now and then never hurts (too much).

MC528 said...

Thanks for the comment, Owen. The acoustics are wonderful. I understand the pipe organ is magnificent, though I've never heard it played... yet. When you visit LA you should put the Disney Hall on your "to do" list.