Monument: Walt Disney Concert Hall
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Architect: Frank Gehry
The Walt Disney Concert Hall, building on the formal language pioneered in the canonical Guggenheim Bilbao, is a hallmark of Gehry’s oeuvre and a significant contribution to the field of architecture in its own right.
Gehry’s signature sculptural design process resulted in a building drapped by fluid stainless steel sheets and many difficult connection details cause by prevalence of complex curvature and acute angles. At the time no architectural software had existed to generate Gehry’s fluid shapes and undulating form. As a result a French software developed for use in the automotive and aerospace industries, CATIA was utilized for its ability to serialize elements of the design for fabrication and construction.
The construction and completion of the Opera House was a well publicized, long, and drawn out narrative which seemed to have no end in sight. Lack of funding led to countless number of delays, even stopping construction for several years. Costs far exceeded the original budget, which lead to many important changes- most interestingly switching from a stone material to a stainless steel exterior.
The hall, like many of Gehry’s large, public projects generates a sense of space. Its sculptural form creates many different facades and impression. Inside, the main auditorium creates an exciting atmosphere that balances intimacy and vibrancy. The 360-degree range of seating surrounding the stage enhances the feeling that the artists and audience as a group are participating in a singular creative experience. Just as impressive is the use of public outdoor space that wraps around the building transitioning from the ground level and upward. Gardens, an amphitheater, and a series of narrow canyons formed by the flowing metallic panels create a one of a kind urban park unlike any other in Los Angeles.