Thursday, February 28, 2013

unity with variety: Frank Gehry, democracy, and the “the body language of the building” (1)

photo: © versluis 2011

The Walt Disney Concert Hall, completed in 2003, 111 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, California. Frank O. Gehry Associates, Frank Gehry, principal architect.

photo: © versluis 2011

Gehry has orchestrated the building’s exterior into an architectural wonder, which is inviting and accessible. In contrast to the exterior metal the interior space surrounds humanity with the warmth and lightness of curved forms and light-colored woodwork.

photo: © versluis 2011

This is a partial view of “A Rose for Lilly” fountain which is comprised of thousands of shards of delft blue-and-white porcelain. Gehry designed the fountain in the form of a large sculptural flower in honor of concert hall benefactor, Lillian Disney. The fountain is perfectly composed as one walks through the public garden around Disney Hall. The stainless steel exterior reflects the subtly colored environment and sky.

Thomas S. Hines in his 1991 essay about Frank Gehry and the initial design of Disney Concert Hall writes that the building suggests a flower metaphor and springtime optimism:

While the idea of the garden has literally expanded to envelope the whole site, the flower metaphor of the building itself has given way to nautical symbolism both inside and out. The wooden, scooped-out interior of orchestra and audience seating has the concave sweep of the outside of a boat, floating within the outwardly canted plaster walls of the hall. Outside, the stone panels [which became curved metal sheets] defining the building’s exterior form take on the buoyant quality of sails in full wind. Gehry and other observers believe it looks and feels “more musical” and will create a more dramatic and memorable effect than the original submission design. (2)
  1. Isenberg, Barbara. Conversations with Frank Gehry. first ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. 118. Print.
  2. Fifth International Exhibition of Architecture of the Biennial. Exhibition Catalog: “Peter Eisenman & Frank Gehry.” Hines, Thomas S. Rite of Spring: Frank Gehry and the Walt Disney Concert Hall of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1991. Print.

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