Gehry Has Designs On The Jazz Bakery

There is good news today for a premier west coast jazz listening establishment. Architect Frank Gehry, creator of some of the most dramatic buildings in the world, is donating his services to the Jazz Bakery. The Los Angeles performance hall lost its lease in 2009 and has functioned in an assortment of rented or donated spaces while it looked for a new site. Now, it has found one on a sliver of land not far from its former Culver City home. Gehry designed the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the massive Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown L.A., pictured here. Other famous Gehry buldings are the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; the MIT Stata Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Experience Music Project in Seattle; the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis; and the Dancing Building in Prague. On its new seventh of an acre, the Bakery may not be quite as imposing as those. Here is the Dancing Building.

Gehry told The Los Angeles Times that he took on the pro bono design commitment at the urging of his wife, who is a jazz listener, and of his friend the late film director and actor Sidney Pollock. Ruth Price, the founder of the performance hall, said that Gehry’s offer came as a surprise. There are administrative and regulatory details to be worked out, but the deal for the new Jazz Bakery site seems set. For details, see this article in today’s L.A. Times.

Among the many albums recorded at the old Jazz Bakery is one recently discussed in this Rifftides post.

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Comments

    • Jim Brown says

      Gehry’s design for the outdoor classical pavilion in Chicago’s Millennium Park was VERY responsive to the acoustic requirements. Although I was not involved in the design in any way, I know those who were. Symphonic music depends upon reverberation to complete the sound of the orchestra — without it, the orchestra would sound dull and lifeless. In a concert hall, that reverberation is produced by the sound bouncing around the various walls, ceiling, and other surfaces, all carefully placed to make the reverberation smooth and natural, and carry the sound both from one musician to another and to the audience. Those walls don’t exist outdoors, so electroacoustic reverberation must be provided by microphones over the orchestra, fed to very sophisticated electronic reverberation units, and from there to a very large network of loudspeakers around the audience. It’s not as good as being in a truly great hall, but it can be very effective when done well.

      During early planning stages, the manufacturer of the reverberation system chosen by the acoustic consultant (the Talaske Group), arranged a demonstration using a temporary portable system for an orchestral performance at the existing outdoor space, and several methods of implementing it were sketched and/or photographed. I saw those suggestions, and so did Gehry — he adopted one of those that would work the best acoustically as the conceptual basis for his design, which he proceeded to turn into great architecture. The system sounds great.

      It’s rare to find an architect who will properly respond to the needs of a performance space — most are more driven by their visual art than the acoustic needs of the space, but on the basis of that Chicago project, I’d say Frank is one of the good guys. I’ve seen several of his other buildings, and like them a lot. He is one of my heroes.