The Walt Disney Concert Hall
The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, designed by architect Frank Gehry and completed in 2003, suits its function as both a concert hall and a monument to the Bunker Hill area’s status as a civic center. Its innovative, futuristic form is well-suited to the city’s postmodern landscape, while the interior retains many of the features of traditional concert halls. The building’s form suits its purpose as a music venue.
Crafted to include abundant natural light as well as to preserve traditional halls’ acoustic qualities, it features a steel-clad exterior with an undulating, abstract shape, using its own artistic qualities to underscore the facility’s artistic purpose. The interior is vast, dominated by a large pipe organ, but the use of wood, the seating arrangement (which surrounds the orchestra platform instead of simply facing it), and the skylights render the hall comfortable rather than dark and formal.
As a cultural facility, the building suits both the physical and cultural contexts of Los Angeles. The location, the once run-down neighborhood of Bunker Hill, has been revitalized in recent years as a business, shopping, and cultural area, and the structure’s presence attests to the city’s efforts to redefine the place. The concert hall evokes a sense of fascination with the shining, undulating exterior, which gives the building the appearance of a large work of art instead of a traditional venue.
The large interior conveys grandeur but is not overwhelming; the wood paneling and abundant sunlight make it seem pleasant rather than stifling. The Disney concert hall’s originality communicates Los Angeles’ efforts to transform Bunker Hill into a relevant, important place for the new century. By using innovative design and informality, Gehry creates a venue that is imposing but not stifling, grand but not intimidating, and artistic in appearance but also efficient and human-focused in its function.