FRANK GEHRY: WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL'S VISIONARY ARCHITECT

By LA Phil

It took 16 years from Lillian B. Disney’s initial gift in 1987 to the time Walt Disney Concert Hall was ready for the public. When it finally opened in October 2003, it was recognized as a cultural masterpiece and acoustical marvel, forever changing the musical landscape of Los Angeles.

ARCHITECT FRANK GEHRYLA Phil

IN SEARCH OF INNOVATION

The search for an architect for Walt Disney Concert Hall began in 1987 with a committee headed by attorney and real estate developer Fred Nicholas. An initial list of 80 architects from around the world was whittled down to 25, then six, and then to the final four. Among the four was Frank Gehry, who may very well be the one architect alive whose imagination has so much in common with Walt Disney’s. Gehry's work offers a sense of wonder and delight with serious undertones, similar to Disney’s movies. He has an intuitive ability to understand what people want, with an immediacy that connects to all types of people.

WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL: FRANK GEHRY'S ORIGINAL SKETCH by Frank GehryLA Phil

DRAWINGS

Frank Gehry’s competition-winning project proposal for Walt Disney Concert Hall marked just the beginning of the design process. Now, with the architect named, the client group could begin to address the complex set of issues involved in the venue's planning and implementation. Among the key concerns were acoustics, use of the overall site, urban planning beyond the immediate site, and the contractual agreements among the entities involved.

WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL SKETCH, THREE-QUARTER VIEW by Frank GehryLA Phil

WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL: AXONOMETRIC DRAWING by Gehry and PartnersLA Phil

WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL: LEVEL 3 FLOOR PLAN by Gehry and PartnersLA Phil

WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL: MODEL WITH METAL EXTERIOR (SIDE VIEW) (1994) by Gehry and PartnersLA Phil

MODELS

The design of the hall and its acoustics evolved together, as Gehry designed the hall from the inside out. Dr. Minoru Nagata was selected as the acoustician because of the bright and clear – yet warm – sound of Tokyo’s acclaimed Suntory Hall. He and his assistant, Yasuhisa Toyota (who became chief acoustician of Walt Disney Concert Hall upon Nagata’s retirement in 1994), worked with Gehry by fax machine and traveled to Los Angeles monthly.

WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL: MODEL WITH METAL EXTERIOR (FRONT VIEW) (1994) by Gehry and PartnersLA Phil

WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL: FINAL MODEL by Gehry and PartnersLA Phil

WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL: MODEL OF AUDITORIUM INTERIOR by Gehry and PartnersLA Phil

WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL: LOBBY-INTERIOR MODEL by Gehry and PartnersLA Phil

WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL: BP HALL INTERIOR MODEL by Gehry and PartnersLA Phil

WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL: FOUNDERS ROOM PREPARATORY MODEL WITH SKYLIT INTERIOR (1998) by Gehry and PartnersLA Phil

WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL: FOUNDERS ROOM PREPARATORY MODEL OF THE CEILING (1998) by Gehry and PartnersLA Phil

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