Angelenos have a goodreason to walk alongGrand Avenue—to hangout at Disney Hall’s newsidewalk café or merelyto gawk at the hall’s sinu-ous, stainless-steelwrapper. At the corner ofGrand and First, theenclosing forms curveopen to the mainentrance, across fromthe Philharmonic’s oldhome at the MusicCenter.
The main lobby level isone level above theGrand Street entrance(above). At the Firstand Hope Street cor-ner, a stair ascends toa public garden(below). The shinyforms enclose a VIPFounders Rooom.
High, frondlike formssurround the hall(evoked even in anearly sketch), whilelower curved shapeswrap lobby spacesalong Grand Avenue.Stairs at left lead toa public garden, itsfairytale plantings(by Melinda Taylor)apparently inspiredby Fantasia.
The building is alandscape of gardens,terraces, and a delft-ware fountain (to honorLillian Disney, whocollected delft).
1996: A rave leads to a revival In March, the parking structure opened, but Disney Hall remained mori- bund. A turning point of sorts arrived, according to Fleischmann, with a series of Philharmonic concerts in Paris. Los Angeles Times critic Mark Swed wrote, “It is notable that the voice [the Philharmonic] did ﬁnally ﬁnd was a voice the hometown crowd at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion never hears. In the live, intimate acoustic of the Châtelet, the Philharmonic sound has an arresting immediacy.” Board members who attended were “blown away,” said Swed in an interview. “The sound’s clar- ity and impact gave them a sense of what would be possible in a new hall.” Director Richard Koshalek, a competition juror years earlier, put the weight of the Museum of Contemporary Art behind the Disney proj- ect by organizing a free exhibition celebrating the design. With models, computer renderings, and even a full-scale mock-up of one of the curved, limestone-clad walls, MOCA drew a broad public into the intricacies of the acoustical and architectural collaboration. Even the ﬁercely com- petitive architectural community began to rally behind the project. Orchestrated by Thom Mayne, a long list of architects worldwide paid for and signed a full-page advertisement in the Times: “Build It and They Will Come” read the headline. The rate of new gifts accelerated. 1997: An impasse? Eli Broad, a major local philanthropist who headed SunAmerica, a home- builder, urged the Music Center and the Philharmonic to move the project forward with a design-build team that would include a new exec- utive architect and conﬁne Gehry’s role to that of consultant. “When Broad brought me that scenario, I said I couldn’t live with it,” said Gehry. Then came The Letter, a now-famous missive addressed to Broad but shared with arts leaders and project funders, in which Gehry offered to withdraw. “The past few years have been difficult for me as I have taken a lot of heat for what has happened,” Gehry wrote. He argued that the Dworsky drawings remained inadequate and that a fourth of the detailingHow acoustical science augmented artin the Disney Concert Hall designGehry and Minoru Nagata derived a one at the expense of the other).hall configuration that balanced the Other tweaks create an aural spa-visual experience and sound quality ciousness and definition that allowsby comparing study models (oppo- the listener to discern the sound ofsite, top) of famous halls. The room a specific instrument within anshape is so important because only ensemble and be able to locate itsa small percentage of what most source. Toyota added two new divid-people hear comes directly from ing partitions in the orchestra afterthe stage. In the narrow “shoe box” he heard the Kitara Hall (a design heof some great halls, straight side derived from Disney’s). After initialwalls reinforce direct sound with all- testing of Disney, Toyota providedimportant “early reflections,” which additional absorption above thedeliver a volume and presence that highest side seats but contemplatespeople expect in a live, unamplified no other physical changes. “It’s aperformance. Disney is wider, with modern sound, both transparent andsides swelling outward, giving many warm, which is unusual,” says musicpatrons the orchestral equivalent of director Esa-Pekka Salonen. “The50-yard-line views. Yasuhisa Toyota sound is very, very good, especiallyhas calibrated the relative sound the bass response, traditionally theabsorption of the surfaces to achieve hardest thing to achieve. It makeshis trademark, a combination of clar- the whole orchestra sound moreity and warmth (many halls provide resonant and more intense.” J.S.R.
A skylight (opposite)draws patrons up fromthe parking structure tothe lower lobby. A pre-concert space, usedfor talks and chamberconcerts (this page),extends the lobby.
Grand Avenue 0 50 FT.GARDEN LEVEL LOBBY LEVEL N 15 M.1. Entry plaza 8. Library Patrons entering at to arrive at the main2. Lobby 9. Orchestra café Grand Avenue (oppo- lobby (above), which3. Preconcert 10. Practice site) mix with those leads to three upper4. Lobby below 11. Choral hall arriving from the levels, each of which5. Café below 12. Office garage (under skylight) offers Piranesian vis-6. Auditorium 13. Public garden amid lobby “tree” tas across the skylight-7. Founders Room 14. Amphitheater forms. They ascend dappled atria that wrap the escalator at left the auditorium.148 Architectural Record 11.03