Lillian Disney hired architect Frank Gehry to design a symphonic music space in downtown Los Angeles in honor of her husband Walt Disney. Gehry was a favorite of previous Disney Corporation President, Michael Eisner. Several Disney corporate and theme park buildings have been designed by Gehry and given the Disney company’s and family’s connection to Los Angeles, his involvement in the Walt Disney Concert Hall project was apt.
But none of that is a reason for Ruth and Doug, in particular, to visit.
The reason we visited (and it is important to make a point here) is because it is a really cool piece of architecture and it has a free guided tour. That, combined with a three day layover on the west coast to moderate jet lag, gave us a good wintertime activity in LA. We did other stuff, too, but most of the pictures are of the Disney Concert Hall.
The Disney Concert Hall is significant in that the exterior has few, if any, right angles. It is a brilliant, literally shiny, centerpiece to a massive urban renewal project. Los Angeles did not have a large performance venue to rival the Met, so there was a movement to transform part of the city into a cultural Mecca.
Made of stainless steel, the exterior of the building is much like a theatrical facade. The sweeping curves are a freestanding cover that hides a more conventional interior building. The perimeter features cavernous “back stage” views of the structure. We got to see the exterior and lobby areas in detail, but sadly were not allowed to see the concert space itself. Unfortunate since we did not have time to see a performance.
Aside from the tour, we spent time hanging out in Santa Monica and Hollywood. Our suite at the W Hollywood (a fortuitous upgrade) was underutilized. We enjoyed dinner with our friend Chris and he questioned our choice of hotel as it is a renowned party spot. Indeed, the place was hopping and offered an entertaining walk through a line of bouncers to get to elevators, but we were there to avoid jet lag – not make it worse. We could have hosted a coke-fueled early morning after party with some of the revelers in the bar, but – oh yeah – we’re old. As to why we picked the hotel? It’s LA.
While we had no intention of doing anything “Disney” on this vacation we did end up spending a day at Disneyland. But only because Knotts Berry Farm closed all their good rides for maintenance.