The amazing acoustics of this music venue and its location in downtown Los Angeles aren’t the only things that make this stunning building in LA special.
The amazing Deconstructivist design of this steel-clad building that was created by one of the most famous architects in the world makes it one of the most fascinating landmarks in the city.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about the Walt Disney Concert Hall, an incredible landmark in California.
1. It’s located on a major thoroughfare in downtown Los Angeles
The Walt Disney City Hall is an amazing concert venue in downtown Los Angeles. It’s located just a couple of blocks west of Los Angeles City Hall at 111 South Grand Avenue.
It takes up an entire block and is bounded by Hope Street and 1st and 2nd Streets. It’s part of the Los Angeles Music Center that features 3 other venues in this area.
The amazing design of the building featuring a stainless steel skin makes it one of the easiest landmarks in this part of the city to recognize.
2. A $50 million donation was far from enough to build the concert hall
The idea to build a music hall dedicated to Walt Disney (1901-1966) and his cultural contributions to the city of Los Angeles came from his widow, Lillian Disney (1899-1997).
She donated $50 million to the city of Los Angeles in 1987, especially for this purpose. She was already 8 years old at the time but unfortunately, never saw the amazing structure completed in 2003.
Although $50 million is considered to be a huge amount, it was far from enough to build the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Approximately $274 million was spent in total.
Apart from private contributions and some funding from Los Angeles County, the Disney family spent $84.5 million and the Walt Disney Company supported the project with $25 million.
3. The first phase consisted of building a huge parking garage in the 1990s
The architect of the project was Frank Gehry, a world-famous architect who designed some of the most remarkable buildings ever built.
He already completed the initial plans in 1991 and work started shortly after. It wasn’t the actual concert hall that was constructed first but a huge underground parking garage.
This phase of the project was completed between 1992 and 1996 and cost $110 million, fully supported by Los Angeles County which sold bonds to raise this money.
The fundraisers for the main building only started after this project was completed and the first stone was laid in December 1999. The building was completed in 2003 and first opened its doors on October 24 of that year.
4. Architect Frank Gehry didn’t plan to build a metal structure initially
One of the most interesting facts about the Walt Disney Concert Hall was that architect Frank Gehry didn’t opt to build the structure with stainless steel skin but with stone.
His argument was that the building would have looked much nicer in the evening because the “stones would glow at night.”
The people involved in the project refused this because they had already seen the amazing result of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao which features a similar steel design.
Some of the more than 6,000 steel panels that were too bright had to be replaced with a matte version because they were blinding nearby traffic.
Regardless of this hiccup, the structure looks fantastic from street level, don’t you think?
5. It became one of the 4 venues of the LA Music Center upon completion in 2003
The building was constructed in an area that features 4 venues today. Here you can enjoy theater concerts, opera, and dance performances.
Apart from the Walt Disney Concert Hall, these are the 3 other venues nearby that make up the Los Angeles Music Center:
- Ahmanson Theatre – A 2,084-seat theater completed in 1967.
- Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and Mark Taper Forum – A 3,156-seat performing arts center completed in 1964.
- REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney / CalArts Theatre) – A multi-functional arts center completed in 2003.
6. The vineyard-style design of the auditorium was influenced by 2 other venues
The design of the building is nothing short but breathtaking, but the same can be said about the auditorium inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
This part of the venue was designed by Japanese engineer Minoru Nagata in collaboration with acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota.
The auditorium has 2,265 seats and features a vineyard-style design. This means that the seating actually surrounds the stage.
7. The auditorium is universally praised for its pristine acoustics
The concert hall replaced the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, a venue in which the acoustics were not optimal to put it euphemistically. Two experts were hired to ensure this wasn’t the case again.
Although the building was already completed in the Spring of 2003, the venue didn’t open until October later that year. That’s because a lot of optimizations were made to improve the acoustics.
The result was amazing and the venue is now praised by spectators and performers alike as it’s at par with the best opera houses in the world.
The organ inside the auditorium features 6,134 pipes that range from a size of just a few inches to up to 32 feet (9.75 meters).
8. It’s the permanent home of a professional LA-based chorus and orchestra
Both the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale call the Walt Disney Concert Hall their permanent home.
They moved here in 2003 from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and I’m pretty sure that they haven’t regretted this for a single day.
Is there a better place to enjoy a music performance than this amazing music hall in downtown LA? Probably not.