Sunday, August 2, 2009


Since we're theoretically a music blog it seems appropriate to share this with you. Last week my wife and I returned to LA together for the first time since we left there about 15 years ago, we went as tourists, staying with friends and doing all the things we used to do back then. For the last several years I've been reading with interest about the work of architect Frank Gehry so the highlight of the week was a visit to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, home of the LA Philharmonic and designed by Gehry, I'm not a great fan of Disney nor his politics but I am interested in architecture and also in the new home of the LA Phil since I used to be a volunteer usher for them when I was a student in the '60's. 

The new building is fabulous, it's more a piece of sculpture than a building, actually it is a building incorporated into a piece of sculpture. The sculpture is what you see from the exterior, enormous panels of curving stainless steel rising to the height of a 4-5 story building, it's dramatic and totally overwhelming. It's hard to conceive how a structure like this can be drafted to a sheet of paper and then be translated into a three dimensional entity by the builders so it was with great interest that we took the official guided tour which takes you behind the facades and into all the nooks and crannies where you can see how it's built. 

The interior is just as dramatic as the exterior but in a totally different manner, there are acres of the finest grade Douglas fir walls also soaring several stories high and other walls of pure white overlapping like a Picasso or Braque cubist painting. At the center is the performance auditorium, a space that seats approx 2200 in an oval configuration around the orchestra, this is lined totally with wood, oak for the floors and Douglas fir for the walls. The hall's acoustics have been described in many reviews as being the best of any public auditorium in the world.

At the 4th floor level doors open onto a beautiful large roof garden with many trees that bloom throughout the year, a personal favorite of which there were many was the tropical coral tree, also known as the flame tree for it's vivid scarlet flowers. Many years ago I grew one from a seed.

If any of you ever visit LA this should be on your agenda of places to visit and you might also consider the Getty Villa, a beautiful money no object re-creation of a Roman Villa from the city of Herculanem, it's an educational center and museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. It's in a beautiful location right on the edge of the Pacific in Malibu and it's free.

For more information on the Gehry building there's a review from when it opened by the LA Times architectural correspondent, it's at:,0,6077307.htmlstory

There's a folder of photos in the dropbox.


Dangerpuss said...

Wow. Thanks for this. I really like Frank Gehry's work. Can you imagine what the inside of his mind looks like?!

Didn't he also do one in Seattle to echo a guitar in tribure to Jimi Hendrix?

I love the sound of the roof garden. A nice balance for all those hard shiny surfaces.

nilpferd said...

I think the concert hall works very well from the outside, fits nicely across from Isozaki's MOCA and contributes well to Grand Ave. I wasn't so convinced by the interiors though, there are some nasty little unresolved corners around some of the auditorium areas and the circulation space is surprisingly cramped. Try to visit Gehry's own house, or some of his early works- they are very much more humble but make ingenious use of basic building materials like chain-link or sheet metal.

tincanman said...

Funny, when your post opened in my browser I saw it from the top of the doors up[ and thought it crass and show offy (new word; royalties to me). Next time I saw it from the pavement up and it changes everything. It's all sharp and jagged yet looks like it belongs there. Strange.

Shoey said...

Disney managed to feature the structure in last year's "Get Smart" movie. A milestone in movie product placement & Bill Murray did a nice cameo as a spy disguised as a tree.

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