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October 28, 2003

Disney Hall

What Disney Means To Gehry David Dillon writes that Disney Hall "confirms Mr. Gehry's standing as the boldest and most inventive architect of his generation. Looking at the hall's billowing facade – a sail, a kite, a lotus blossom, the visual analogies are endless – it's easy to forget that Mr. Gehry started out designing shopping malls and spec office buildings for James Rouse and other developers. And when he won the competition for Disney Hall, he was known primarily as the kooky guy who put chain-link fence on his house and asphalt on his kitchen floor – not the sort of architect who should be trusted with a major civic building, thought the culturati. The breakthrough came with CATIA, a computer program used to design the French Mirage fighter." Dallas Morning News 11/14/03

Disney - Half As Spectacular As Bilbao? David Littlejohn is not very generous in his praise for Frank Gehry's new Disney Hall. "The result is about half as spectacular as Mr. Gehry's 1997 Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, with which it will inevitably be compared. Bilbao has a far more impressive location, equal excitement from all directions, and more dramatic interior spaces that visibly reflect its exterior." Still, "it is one of the most agreeable modern concert halls I have been in (though one heard complaints about steep stairs and tight legroom), reminiscent of Alvar Aalto's classic halls, and Mr. Gehry's most humane interior space." OpinionJournal.com 11/12/03

Disney As Hard Rock Cafe? Alex Ross goes to Disney Hall: "Gehry’s building is enjoying a mammoth wave of publicity, the like of which has not been seen in classical parts since Lenny partied with the Panthers on Park Avenue. My first reaction was of slightly disappointed déjà vu; if more of these silver-winged creations touch down in cities around the world, they will begin to resemble quarter-of-a-billion-dollar Hard Rock Cafés." The New Yorker 11/10/03

Disney - The West Rises Up? LA's Disney Hall is a great accomplishment, sure. And a good place to hear music, writes Joshua Kosman. "But it's also a great roar of regional pride, a sweeping claim for the importance of the arts in a city and state long derided as philistine. It promises to strike a powerful blow - perhaps even, at long last, the fatal one - against the cultural mythology that says America's musical life begins on the East Coast and peters out somewhere around the Mississippi River." San Francisco Chronicle 11/03/03

Michener: Disney "Radically Redefines" Concert-Going Charles Michener is impressed with his first encounter with Disney Hall. "If the flamboyant façade doesn’t attain quite the iconic power of the Sydney Opera House as a city-defining monument (there’s no dramatic vantage point from which to view it whole), its interior radically redefines the experience of concertgoing. People in the concert business tell me that it takes about three years for an orchestra and a new hall to settle down acoustically. What I heard at Disney Hall suggests a marriage that is off to a roaring start." New York Observer 10/29/03

Disney Passes Expectations In The Fast Lane LA's new Disney Hall got through its opening weekend of three concerts in great style, writes Joshua Kosman. "Taken in tandem with Thursday's opener, the evenings added up to a beguiling snapshot of musical life in the Southland - venturesome, swaggering and ready to embrace whatever cultural developments may be passing through. In addition to its own extravagant charms, at once noble and puppyish, Disney Hall reveals anew the strength and resilience that this orchestra has attained under Salonen's leadership." San Francisco Chronicle 10/27/03

Davidson On Disney: Populism Meeting Glitter Justin Davidson is duly impressed with the L.A. Philharmonic's new Gehry-designed digs: "It is a building made of visual metaphors: It blooms among the architectural crabgrass of downtown L.A... The hall is a come-on to the city on the part of a high-art establishment that feels miniaturized by the pop-culture machine. Like a maestro going to the supermarket, Disney Hall balances glamour with populism. It is a complex space, yet a straightforwardly spectacular one, too. It flaunts its impeccable sheen, yet invites visitors to touch. People have done so, and unless the maintenance crew proves overzealous, one of the more unexpected features will be the shadow of hands on steel." Newsday (New York) 10/27/03

Disney Hall's First Night "As spotlights raked the billowing exterior of architect Frank Gehry's $274-million edifice, a glittering lineup of politicians, Hollywood players, captains of industry and cultural savants filed up a red-carpeted stairway and into the dramatically sculpted 2,265-seat hall, which has already drawn ecstatic reviews from architecture critics across the country." Los Angeles Times 10/24/03

Disney: So How'd It Sound? Mark Swed writes that Disney Hall is "everything and more than we might have hoped for. In this enchanted space, music can take on meaningful new excitement even in an age when many art forms are satisfied with oversaturated stimulation." Los Angeles Times 10/24/03

Disney Hall - A French Curve In A T-Square World Herbert Muschamp writes that LA's new Disney Hall is more than a building. "It's a home for everyone who's ever felt like a French curve in a T square world. Disney Hall is a riotous rebirth. Not just for downtown Los Angeles, where the building is situated, and not just for the whole sprawling mixed-up La-La. What is being reborn is the idea of the urban center as a democratic institution: a place where voices can be heard." The New York Times 10/23/03

Disney Hall's Great - But Where's Money For The Poor? Disney Hall's opulent opening may herald a redefined downtown for Los Angeles. But nearby homeless and advocates for the poor see Disney as a symbol of catering to the rich. "It's fine to have a music centre, but this has cost $276m and, if you add the $200m that the cathedral cost, that's almost half a billion dollars to provide services for the rich. Where's the half billion for the poor?" The Guardian (UK) 10/23/03

Disney Hall - Hopes Of A City What does Disney Hall mean to LA? "We never had a downtown," Richard J. Riordan, the former mayor who played an important role in reviving the once near-dead Disney Hall, said before the ceremony. "We finally have one now. And Disney Hall is a symbol of that." The New York Times 10/21/03

Disney Hall - Fulfilling Expectations Nicolai Ouroussoff writes that Disney Hall lives up to extravagant expectations. "What makes the building so moving as a work of architecture is its ability to express a deeper creative conflict: the recognition that ideal beauty rarely exists in an imperfect world. It is this tension — and the delicacy with which Gehry resolves it — that makes Disney Hall such a powerful work of social commentary. That he could accomplish this despite a tortured construction process that dragged out over 16 years is a minor miracle. Its success affirms both Gehry's place as America's greatest living architectural talent and Los Angeles' growing cultural maturity." Los Angeles Times 10/19/03

The LA Times' Complete Coverage Of Disney Hall Los Angeles Times

Disney-High Ambitions LA's Disney Hall opens next week. "For all the energy and playfulness of this $274 million piece of civic sculpture, Disney Hall also bears a heavy burden as an instrument of this city's heady ambition. Sixteen years in the making, it represents Los Angeles' determination to shake off its perpetual No. 2 status, to be recognized, along with New York, as an international cultural heavyweight, yet on its own highly theatrical terms." San Francisco Chronicle 10/16/03

Hot Ticket Item: Stars Come Out For Disney Hall The three opening galas in late October for Los Angeles' new Disney Hall are the hot ticket of the season. "The first night is virtually sold out. Sure, the performing arts community is feeling pressure to attend the Disney galas — it can't be easy to send regrets. 'I wouldn't want to be sitting home those nights. I'd feel so left out!' But mostly the events are selling themselves, say organizers, who hope to net $7 million." Los Angeles Times 09/23/03

Disney Hall - Pressure To Perform Talk about pressure. Frank Gehry's new Disney Hall, home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is expected to sound great and provide a transformative piece of architecture for a city not known for great buildings. "It is ironic that Gehry is being criticized for not producing a building that will transform a dreary, lifeless downtown area, since that is what he did more successfully than any other living architect when he designed the Guggenheim in Bilbao. (The phenomenon is even referred to generally as 'the Bilbao effect.') He made the first truly popular piece of avant-garde architecture in our time, and suddenly everybody else wanted one, including his own city, where he had not received a major commission until 1988, when he won a competition to design the new hall for the Los Angeles Philharmonic." The New Yorker 09/22/03

A Disney Spectacular The hottest ticket in LA this fall is the opening of the Frank Gehry-designed Disney Hall, new home to the LA Philharmonic. "What does this do for the city? I'm quite amused by the fact that the hottest ticket in L.A. is a classical music/architectural event, not some Hollywood thing. I'm going to enjoy that. It won't happen again." The New York Times 08/21/03

Disney Hall - Sounding Good "Disney Hall will finally open this fall—16 tortured years after the late Lillian Disney, Walt’s widow, instigated the project with a $50 million gift. The ultimate verdict on its acoustics will come from music critics after the gala first concert on Oct. 23. But if the building does sound as good as it looks—and early reports are enthusiastic—it will be a masterpiece, even greater than the spectacular Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, which made Gehry an international star in 1997." MSNBC 08/18/03

Disney Hall - Hopes Of A City Los Angelinos are counting on their new Disney concert hall for a lot more than just a home for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. "When the $274 million, Frank Gehry-designed building opens in October, government and business leaders are counting on it to be the signature of the downtown skyline and an impetus for revitalizing the area." Philadelphia Inquirer (AP) 08/10/03

When A Concert Hall Isn't Just A Concert Hall "With world-class acoustics and a dramatic, curved steel exterior that looks more like sculpture than architecture, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is more than just a new home for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. When the $274-million, Frank Gehry-designed building opens this fall, government officials and business leaders are counting on it to become the signature of the downtown skyline and an impetus for revitalizing the area." Washington Post (AP) 07/25/03

First Impressions At Disney Hall The Los Angeles Philharmonic won't officially open its new Frank Gehry-designed digs until the fall, but a special open rehearsal/performance by the Phil this week allowed musicians and critics their first shot at assessing the acoustics of the much-anticipated space. The hall will have to be "tuned," of course, a process which will last months if not years, but Mark Swed was encouraged by the "plentiful bass, crystalline clarity and forceful immediacy" of the orchestra's new home. Los Angeles Times 07/01/03

Will Disney Hall Be LA's Defining Building? Many cities are anxious to have some sort of iconic defining piece of architecture to add to add to their skyline. "This sense of a great city with a vast meeting place at its heart is important. Los Angeles has failed as a place for public spaces, but civic connectedness is something L.A. needs to be a truly great city." So will Frank Gehry's new Disney Hall be that building? Christian Science Monitor 06/06/03

A New Gehry On The Skyline LA's new Frank Gehry-designed Disney Hall is turning heads (and it hasn't even opened yet). "The city centre more in need than even Bilbao of something worth looking at has got a shimmering pile of twisting metal. Yet this isn't 'me too' urbanism, more 'hey buddy, we were here first'. The $274m (£150m) Walt Disney Concert Hall was designed before Bilbao (in the late 1980s) but was held back by funding and other problems, which makes it the prototype architectural regenerator, a pivotal, if tardy, building. The hall is an exuberant pile of twisting steel encasing public spaces of generosity and wit, finished internally in Douglas fir, light streaming in where the external structure peels away from the façade - this is a building with no windows but plenty of light. It could exert a major impact on the city's feeble downtown, its contorted, lumpy profile looming impressively over the skyline." Financial Times 06/02/03

What Gehry Means To LA Los Angeles is about to get a major new Gehry - the Disney Hall. "For 50 years it's been the world's archetypical sprawling, privatised, centreless city of gated suburbs, fast food, fast, flashy architecture, malls and freeways; a city in which you need never sully your toes by touching a sidewalk. But now that Beijing, Shenzhen and the North Circular are out-LA-ing LA, LA has decided to become Paris. It's been quietly turning its downtown into a proper city centre, like it used to be 80 years ago, before the car screwed it up. It's introduced old-fashioned public space without security guards, lofts, pedestrian (gasp) boulevards, and posh, properly public buildings such as Rafael Moneo's masterly Roman Catholic cathedral, and, the linchpin, the Disney Concert Hall." The Times (UK) 05/20/03

LA's New Disney Hall - Could It Be Great? "After 16 troubled years and a seemingly endless series of setbacks and reverses, the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, which many predict will be one of the world's greatest concert halls, is at last on target for its twice-postponed dedication, now scheduled for October 23. The gloriously dramatic, undulating expanse of shimmering stainless steel is finally almost completed, gleaming on a 3.6-acre city block at the corner of Grand and First Streets in the centre of Los Angeles. It is expected to become a landmark which will bring new life and vitality to the area as well as providing a striking addition to the city's cultural and architectural landscape and a new home for the Los Angeles Philharmonic." The Telegraph (UK) 05/15/03

Saying Goodbye To LA's Dorothy Chandler Esa-Pekka Salonen gives his final performance in Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with the LA Philharmonic before he and the orchestra move to the new Disney Hall in the fall. None too soon, writes Mark Swed: "I have attended Philharmonic performances in the Chandler every season since, and it was there that I learned much of the orchestral repertory. But it has never been a good symphony hall. One gets used to it, learns to listen through the acoustical limitations, but when you see cellos sawing away and don't hear them, as can happen from the orchestra seats, you are forced to choose between believing your eyes or your ears." Los Angeles Times 05/12/03

Disney Hall Almost Paid For The Frank Gehry-designed Disney Hall, which will play host to the Los Angeles Philharmonic beginning next fall, has come within $10 million of being fully paid for. The hall is estimated to cost $272 million, and has taken 15 years to go from initial planning stages to final construction. Backers say they are optimistic that the final fundraising push will go quickly, and the county has stepped in with an additional $14.5 million of street and neighborhood improvements around the hall. Los Angeles Times 03/05/03

Checking In With Frank Gehry Architect Frank Gehry's laid-back air "is a large part of the appeal of his architecture. His buildings, assertive and emphatic though they are, are generous and open to the unexpected. The laidback air is also partly fictional, as he has a fierce competitive and creative will that shows no sign of relenting." He's designing a new house for himself in Los Angeles. And he's up for a couple new projects in London. In the meantime there's the new Disney Hall getting set to open in LA... London Evening Standard 02/28/03

Disney Hall Will Seduce The LA Philharmonic's new Frank Gehry-designed concert hall is beginning to take final form. "Curvaceous and shiny as a Hollywood starlet, Disney Hall will have little trouble seducing the Philharmonic from the gloomy luxury of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion across the street. Despite its cheerful predictions, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, like other American orchestras, struggles for listeners and money. Its endowment of $57 million is precariously low for an institution of this size. Forty million dollars of a 'quiet' $100 million drive is said to be promised. Skeptics note the Disney's near-death struggle for funds and believe the well may have run dry." The New York Times 01/28/03

A First Look At Disney Hall Alan Rich isn't ready to make prognostications on what an orchestra will sound like in LA's new Disney Hall, but he's impressed with how it looks this far into construction. "The hall itself — the 'Ralphs/Food 4 Less Auditorium,' it will say in modest lettering on the door handles — is close enough to completion that you can sense the intimacy of the place as compared to the Chandler Pavilion. It's not only a matter of smaller size; it's the contour of the room that seems to wrap itself around you." LAWeekly 01/16/03

Disney Hall - Opening Times Three Los Angeles' dramatic new Disney Hall, scheduled to open next October, is opening in a flurry of gala fundraising benefits expected to earn $3 million for the LA Philharmonic. "On the first night they'll hear the tried-and-true classics. On the second, the new music of the 21st century. And on the third, we'll honor the European composers who fled Nazi Germany to come to Hollywood and were hired by the film industry." Los Angeles Times 12/30/02

More Than Just A Building The Los Angeles Philharmonic is a firmly establisheed orchestra, but its move into the new Gehry-designed Disney Hall next season will transform its existence. "Overall in 2003-04, the Philharmonic will present almost 50% more programming than in the past. It plans nine world premieres, a season record for the orchestra. It will present two major international orchestras, and a stellar lineup of guest conductors including Pierre Boulez, Christoph von Dohnányi, Valery Gergiev and Charles Dutoit. It will unveil five new music series from Baroque concerts to jazz and world music programs, and launch partnerships with such organizations as CalArts, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Getty Research Institute." And oh, want to get in on opening ceremonies? It'll cost you as much as $5,000. Los Angeles Times 11/22/02

MUSICAL CHAIRS: How do you fit subscribers from a hall that seats 3100 into one that seats 2,300? If you're the Los Angeles Philharmonic, allocating seats in its new $274 million Disney Hall will be determined by "seniority, money and volunteer work. The task of appeasing 27,000 priority-seeking subscription-holders in clout-conscious Los Angeles stands as a challenge in human engineering to rival the mathematics behind architect Frank Gehry's tilting, soaring wall panels." Los Angeles Times 08/30/02

THE ART OF A CONCERT HALL: As the new Frank Gehry-designed home for the Los Angeles Philharmonic rises, it's worth noting that when the LA Phil's current home - the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion - opened back in 1964, its acoustics were widely praised. Still, the new Disney Hall will be a landmark building for the city, one of its most distinctive structures. Financial Times 02/27/02

L.A.'S NEW LANDMARK: In Los Angeles, Frank Gehry's new Disney Concert Hall is taking shape. It's sure to alter the cultural architecture of the city. "The crazily curved building - which evokes the hallucinatory shapes of Disney's more fantastic cartoons - will surely be another milestone in the architect's long career. Now 71, for much of his life he was underappreciated in his adopted city." The Age (Melbourne) 12/13/01

ARCHITECTURE'S 'IT' BOY: Will the new Disney Concert Hall in LA be the crowning achievement of architect Frank Gehry's career? As it rises, the world seems ready to cede Gehry the title of North America's Leading Architect. Not that Gehry seems anxious to accept the crown: "This was designed 10 years ago, so a lot of crowning achievements have happened since," he chuckles. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 08/28/01

LA'S NEW LOOK: Los Angeles doesn't have a tradition of great public buildings. But in the past few years, "Los Angeles' civic landscape has undergone a startling transformation. As the $1-billion Getty Center was opening its doors in 1997 in Brentwood, construction was starting up on Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall and José Rafael Moneo's Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels - all major works by world-renowned architects. More important, a sense of civic flowering has spread beyond a few powerful downtown institutions." Los Angeles Times 08/19/01

BUILDING BIND: Critics might be raving about the new Gehry-designed Disney concert hall in Los Angeles, but the workers building it hate it. "Forget about that construction site standard, the blueprint. Forget about anything that covers a trifling two dimensions - the way construction documents do in more standard buildings. In Frank Gehry's world, everything is 3-D, and the construction workers are swept along - or left behind." Los Angeles Times 08/07/01

BUILDING MORE GLAMOR: From new airport structures to the new Disney concert hall, Los Angeles is the latest city to spruce up with a series of glitzy new building projects. The Times (UK) 05/29/01

THE SOUND OF MUSIC: For all the calculations, acoustics is more art than science. "Scale models and computer simulations can demonstrate the motion of sound waves, yet relatively few modern concert halls have stunning sound. Virtual reality cannot replicate the visceral sensation of sitting in a space and hearing it resound with real, unamplified music." Yasuhisa Toyota has spent 10 years working on the sound for LA's new Disney Concert Hall. Los Angeles Times 04/08/01

CULTURAL CORRIDOR: For a decade Los Angeles has been talking about establishing a "cultural corridor" to link its major cultural institutions on Grand Avenue. Now it may finally have come up with an idea that works. "The plan - meant to integrate the center with the new Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, both under construction along the avenue, and the Civic Center to the east - was presented to the board of directors Monday." Los Angeles Times 12/13/00

IN SEARCH OF: Los Angeles' Disney Concert Hall finally broke ground last week. Maybe the city has drawn closer to creating a cultural hub that works. And yet... Los Angeles Times 12/19/99

THE EARTH MOVED: Seven years after its "official" groundbreaking, construction finally begins on Los Angeles' new $200+ million Disney concert hall. Orange County Register 12/12/99

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