Thursday, December 9, 2010

L.A. Music Center: Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall (corner of S Grand Ave & 2nd St)
First in a post series about the Los Angeles Music Center.

Perhaps it's because of my childhood enjoyment of Lego bricks that lay the foundation for my continued wonder of architecture when traveling. That wonder continues with the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles and part of the city's Music Center. It is a perfect example of a building that sparks stares, curiosity and diverse comments.

Concert Hall steps leads to upper lobby.
Tours open the mystery of the unusual building for those interested in architecture or the performing arts. A garden park, an amphitheater, a porcelain rose-shaped fountain are among the worthwhile hidden delights to see within the structure's stainless steel curves. Explore the walkways on the building and spectacular views of Los Angeles appear. A must-see attraction. The only thing that would round off the tour is a performance at the center but that would have to be saved for another day.

Ground level lobby. Columns shape like tree also serves as air
conditioning ducts.
One of the interesting stories from the tour is about the highly reflective surface of the stainless steel exterior. It caused residents of nearby condominiums to suffer glare and rooms to become unbearably warm. This in turn caused air-conditioning costs for affected units to skyrocket. The building also caused hotspots on the sidewalk to raise temperatures to 140 °F (60 °C). The solution was to dull the suspect panels.

Main auditorium
Completed in 2003, the main auditorium of the $274 million building seats 2,256 seats. The hall is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Los Angeles Master Chorale.  See the next post for photos of the garden park and views from the concert hall. Another post features the concert hall in popular entertainment.

Designed by architect Frank Gehry, some of his other well known designs include the Experience Music Project in Seattle, Washington and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

Curved walls & walkways lead to the center's amphitheater and park
Since all other visitors were doing the self or guided tour of the Concert Hall and I was the only lined up for the complete tour of all venues of the Music Center, I found myself having a private tour. All the photos in this post are from this 2009 tour.

A maze of walkways and stairs.
The Music Center includes the following venues: the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum and Walt Disney Concert Hall. Three complimentary tours are offered. Two are of the Concert Hall, one guided and self-guided audio tour. Each run about 60 minutes. The third is the Symphonian tour, a guided tour of all four venues that runs about 90 minutes. It should be noted tours may be limited due to performances at the venues.

Another tour group heading to the viewing area of Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
Visit the music center for the tour schedule as each tour does not occur daily. Click on these links for online brochures: History & Architecture of the Music Center; Architecture & Garden Highlights of Walt Disney Concert Hall.


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