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Walt Disney Concert Hall

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Title: Walt Disney Concert Hall  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Los Angeles Music Center, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Frank Gehry, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Esa-Pekka Salonen
Collection: 2000S Architecture in the United States, 2003 Establishments in California, Art in the Greater Los Angeles Area, Buildings and Structures in Downtown Los Angeles, Bunker Hill, Los Angeles, Civic Center, Los Angeles, Concert Halls in California, Culture of Los Angeles, California, Deconstructivism, Downtown Los Angeles, Expressionist Architecture, Frank Gehry Buildings, Landmarks in Los Angeles, California, Music Venues Completed in 2003, Music Venues in Los Angeles, California, Postmodern Architecture in California, Walt Disney
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall
Location 111 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, California U.S.A.
Public transit

      Civic Center/Grand Park

(Regional Connector future)
Owner Los Angeles Music Center
Type Concert hall
Seating type Reserved
Capacity 2,265
Built 1999–2003
Opened October 24, 2003
Construction cost $130 million (plus $110 million for parking garage)
Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Master Chorale
Venue website

The Walt Disney Concert Hall at 111 South Grand Avenue in Downtown of Los Angeles, California, is the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Center and was designed by Frank Gehry. It opened on October 24, 2003. Bounded by Hope Street, Grand Avenue, and 1st and 2nd Streets, it seats 2,265 people and serves, among other purposes, as the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. The hall is in a vineyard seating configuration, similar to the Berliner Philharmonie by Hans Scharoun.[1]

Lillian Disney made an initial gift of $50 million in 1987 to build a performance venue as a gift to the people of Los Angeles and a tribute to Walt Disney's devotion to the arts and to the city. The Frank Gehry-designed building opened on October 24, 2003. Both Gehry's architecture and the acoustics of the concert hall, designed by Yasuhisa Toyota, have been praised, in contrast to its predecessor, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.[2]


  • Construction 1
  • Acoustics 2
    • Regional Connector tunnel 2.1
  • Reflection problems 3
  • Concert organ 4
  • In popular culture 5
  • Restaurant 6
  • Gallery 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10
  • External links 11


Disney Hall midway through construction, July 14, 2001.

The project was launched in 1987, when Lillian Disney, widow of Walt Disney, donated $50 million. Frank Gehry delivered completed designs in 1991. Construction of the underground parking garage began in 1992 and was completed in 1996. The garage cost had been $110 million, and was paid for by Los Angeles County, which sold bonds to provide the garage under the site of the planned hall.[3] Construction of the concert hall itself stalled from 1994 to 1996 due to lack of fundraising. Additional funds were required since the construction cost of the final project far exceeded the original budget. Plans were revised, and in a cost-saving move the originally designed stone exterior was replaced with a less costly stainless steel skin.[4]:114 The needed fundraising restarted in earnest in 1996, headed by Eli Broad and then-mayor Richard Riordan. Groundbreaking for the hall was held in December 1999. Delay in the project completion caused many financial problems for the county of LA. The County expected to repay the garage debts by revenue coming from the Disney Hall parking users.[3]

Upon completion in 2003, the project cost an estimated $274 million; the parking garage alone cost $110 million.[3] The remainder of the total cost was paid by private donations, of which the Disney family's contribution was estimated to $84.5 million with another $25 million from The Walt Disney Company. By comparison, the three existing halls of the Music Center cost $35 million in the 1960s (about $190 million in today's dollars).


In a late stage of construction; the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is to the right in the rear.

As construction finished in the spring of 2003, the Philharmonic postponed its grand opening until the fall and used the summer to let the orchestra and Master Chorale adjust to the new hall. Performers and critics agreed that it was well worth this extra time taken by the time the hall opened to the public.[5] During the summer rehearsals a few hundred VIPs were invited to sit in including donors, board members and journalists. Writing about these rehearsals, Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed wrote the following account:

When the orchestra finally got its next [practice] in Disney, it was to rehearse Ravel's lusciously orchestrated ballet, Daphnis and Chloé. … This time, the hall miraculously came to life. Earlier, the orchestra's sound, wonderful as it was, had felt confined to the stage. Now a new sonic dimension had been added, and every square inch of air in Disney vibrated merrily. Toyota says that he had never experienced such an acoustical difference between a first and second rehearsal in any of the halls he designed in his native Japan. Salonen could hardly believe his ears. To his amazement, he discovered that there were wrong notes in the printed parts of the Ravel that sit on the players' stands. The orchestra has owned these scores for decades, but in the Chandler no conductor had ever heard the inner details well enough to notice the errors.[5]

The hall met with laudatory approval from nearly all of its listeners, including its performers. In an interview with PBS, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, said, "The sound, of course, was my greatest concern, but now I am totally happy, and so is the orchestra,"[6] and later said, "Everyone can now hear what the L.A. Phil is supposed to sound like."[7] This remains one of the most successful grand openings of a concert hall in American history.

The walls and ceiling of the hall are finished with Douglas-fir while the floor is finished with oak. Columbia Showcase & Cabinet Co. Inc., based in Sun Valley, CA, produced all of the ceiling panels, wall panels and architectural woodwork for the main auditorium and lobbies.[8] The Hall's reverberation time is approximately 2.2 seconds unoccupied and 2.0 seconds occupied.[9]

Regional Connector tunnel

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has an agreement with the Los Angeles Music Center to use the most advanced noise-suppression measures for construction of the Regional Connector Transit Corridor subway under 2nd Street where it passes the hall and the Colburn School of Music. Metro will use procedures to ensure that the rumble of trains does not intrude on the sound quality of recordings made in the venues or mar audiences' musical experience within this sensitive stretch of the tunnel. Metro will also build an evelated walkway from the station the concert hall[10]

Reflection problems

Walt Disney Concert Hall Sign
The exterior of Founders room after panels were re-surfaced.

After the construction, modifications were made to the Founders Room exterior; while most of the building's exterior was designed with stainless steel given a matte finish, the Founders Room and Children's Amphitheater were designed with highly polished mirror-like panels. The reflective qualities of the surface were amplified by the concave sections of the Founders Room walls. Some residents of the neighboring condominiums suffered glare caused by sunlight that was reflected off these surfaces and concentrated in a manner similar to a parabolic mirror. The resulting heat made some rooms of nearby condominiums unbearably warm, caused the air-conditioning costs of these residents to skyrocket and created hot spots on adjacent sidewalks of as much as 140 °F (60 °C).[11] There was also the increased risk of traffic accidents due to blinding sunlight reflected from the polished surfaces. After complaints from neighboring buildings and residents, the owners asked Gehry Partners to come up with a solution. Their response was a computer analysis of the building's surfaces identifying the offending panels. In 2005 these were dulled by lightly sanding the panels to eliminate unwanted glare.[12]

Concert organ

View of the stage and organ before a concert.

The design of the hall included a large concert Todd Wilson.

The organ's façade was designed by architect console at the top and pipes upside down. There was another in which the pipes were in layers of arrays like fans. The pipes would have had to be made out of materials that wouldn't work for pipes. We had our moments where we realized we were not going anywhere. As the design became more practical for me, it also became more boring for him." Then, Gehry came up with the curved wooden pipe concept, "like a logjam kind of thing," says Rosales, "turned sideways." This design turned out to be musically viable.[13]

The organ was built by the German organ builder Caspar Glatter-Götz under the tonal direction and voicing of Manuel Rosales. It has an attached grand piano, and plugged in at any of four positions on the stage, this console has terraced, curved "amphitheatre"-style stop-jambs resembling those of French Romantic organs, and is built with a low profile, with the music desk entirely above the top of the console, for the sake of clear sight lines to the conductor. From the detached console, all ranks play by electric key and stop action.

In all, there are 72 stops, 109 ranks, and 6,125 pipes; pipes range in size from a few inches/centimeters to the longest being 32 feet (9.75m) (which has a frequency of 16 hertz).[14]

The organ is a gift to the County of Los Angeles from Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (the U.S. sales, marketing, service, and distribution arm of Toyota Motor Corporation).[15][16]

In popular culture

External video
10 Buildings that Changed America #10 Disney Concert Hall, WTTW,[17]
  • The Hall was spoofed in The Simpsons episode "The Seven-Beer Snitch"; Gehry voiced himself in the episode where the town of Springfield had him design a new Concert Hall for the town.[18] The Concert Hall was then transformed into a jail by Mr. Burns. The character Snake eventually escapes from the prison while saying, "No Frank Gehry-designed prison can hold me!"
  • The first ever movie premiere at the concert hall was in 2003, when The Matrix Revolutions held its world premiere.
  • The Hall is featured in the video game Midnight Club: Los Angeles.
  • In the opening moments of "Day 6" of 24, a suicide bomber destroyed a bus in the vicinity of the Concert Hall.
  • The Concert Hall held Ellen DeGeneres co-hosting for American Idol during the special week of Idol Gives Back. Rascal Flatts, Kelly Clarkson, and Il Divo performed here.
  • This building was also used in the Iron Man (2008 release) movie briefly for a party for Stark Industries.
  • The finale of the 2008 movie Get Smart was filmed at the Concert Hall.
  • In the promotion picture for the television series Shark, the cast is standing in front of the Concert Hall.
  • In the original pilot of the US TV remake of Life on Mars, the Hall features prominently in the sequence where Sam travels back to 1972. It is an emblem of the ultra-modern landscape that Sam is about to leave behind.
  • On Everyday Italian, Giada De Laurentiis was preparing foods for her family and friends before she went there.
  • "One Hour", a 3rd season episode of NUMB3RS, extensively features the concert hall. The action begins outside the hall, and after a long series of events around town, the FBI winds up going inside the hall in order to rescue a young boy from his captors.
  • Both the interior and the exterior of the building were filmed in extensively during the production of the 2009 film, The Soloist.
  • Filming was done on location at the Concert Hall for a fictional Boomkat music video in the CW's Melrose Place.
  • The ABC show "Brothers and Sisters" often shows an exterior shot of Senator Robert McCallister's office that includes the concert hall. Also, Kitty proposed to Robert at a fund raiser held at the hall.
  • It was featured in the 2007 film, Alvin and the Chipmunks.
  • The exterior is featured prominently in the 2012 film Celeste and Jesse Forever.


The concert hall houses celebrity chef Joachim Splichal's landmark fine dining restaurant Patina designed by Belzberg Architects. Patina serves French and California cuisine.


See also


  1. ^ Kamin, Blair (October 26, 2003). "The wonderful world of Disney".  
  2. ^ Swed, Mark (October 19, 2003). "Sculpting the sound".  
  3. ^ a b c People, Parking, and Cities
  4. ^ Gehry, Frank (2002). gehry talks. Universe Publishing.  
  5. ^ a b Mark Swed (October 29, 2003). "Now comes the true test". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 4, 2008. Retrieved July 15, 2008. 
  6. ^ "The Los Angeles Philharmonic Inaugurates Walt Disney Concert Hall". Retrieved July 15, 2008. 
  7. ^ Valerie Scher (October 25, 2003). "Disney Hall opens with a bang".  
  8. ^ "Columbia Showcase & Cabinet Co. Inc. – An Acoustical Journey –". Retrieved August 12, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Building Details and Acoustics Data" (PDF). Nagata Acoustics. Retrieved July 16, 2008. 
  10. ^ Boehm, Mike (July 2, 2014). "Metro commits to deal ensuring subway won't hurt Disney Hall acoustics".  
  11. ^
  12. ^ Coates, Chris (March 21, 2005). "Dimming Disney Hall; Gehry's Glare Gets Buffed".  
  13. ^ Timothy Mangan (September 30, 2004). "Pipe dreams at Disney Hall; The concert venue's fantastical organ is finally ready for unveiling".  
  14. ^ "Rosales Organ Builders, Opus 24 (Walt Disney Concert Hall)". Retrieved January 3, 2008. 
  15. ^ Wachtell, Esther (August 1991). "Using all the fund-raising tools: by giving its volunteers all the resources they needed to do the job, The Music Center of Los Angeles increased its campaign goal 15 percent to $ 17.6 million, despite the recession". Fund Raising Management 22 (6): 23.  
  16. ^ PAUL KARON (November 24, 1997). "Toyota ups hall donation".  
  17. ^ "#10 Waltdisney Concert Hall". 10 Buildings that Changed America. WTTW. 2013. Retrieved December 12, 2013.  Webpage features include a photo slide show, video from the televised program (4:47), and "web exclusive video" (3:35).
  18. ^ simp15.jpg Archived June 20, 2006 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading

  • Symphony: Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2003. ISBN 0-8109-4981-4, ISBN 0-8109-9122-5.

External links

  • Official website at Los Angeles Music Center
  • Walt Disney Concert Hall – web page of the Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Los Angeles TimesArchive of stories from the
  • graphic titled "Inside the Disney Hall Organ"Los Angeles Times
  • Article and images at
  • Microclimatic Impact: Glare around the Walt Disney Concert Hall
  • Images in B&W of the Disney Concert Hall
  • Photographs of exterior and interior of the Disney Concert Hall
  • Photograph: Exterior detail of the Disney Concert Hall
  • Photographs of Disney Concert Hall exterior and architectural details
  • Controlling Chaos
  • Recent Photos of Disney Concert Hall
  • Photos of Disney Concert Hall
  • Virtual Tour of Walt Disney Concert Hall
  • Theatre Consultant Theatre Projects website
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