Shooting Walt Disney
Some time ago I caught an interview with Frank Gehry on Tom Ashbook’s NPR show, On Point. At the time I knew nothing of Frank Gehry, but architecture is a subject of interest to me and Frank gave an engaging and informative interview. After hearing the show I took the time to do a little more research on Frank and his buildings.
One of Frank Gehry’s most famous projects is the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, CA. The structure is the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and in additions to being an outrageous and glorious visual design, the auditorium is considered to be among best acoustical rooms in the world.
Paul Roark is a photographer I follow on line. Paul specializes in black and white photography and is one of the leading lights in the technology of using mono-tone, gray and black inks in multi-cartridge inkjet printers. Paul has several photographs of the Walt Disney Concert Hall posted on his web site, http://www.paulroark.com/Disney.html. I had seen these and thought, that should I ever get to Los Angeles, this would be a subject worth spending some time with.
As luck would have it, this year the annual Intel Partner Solutions Summit, which I have to attend for my day job, would be held at the J W Marriott hotel in the western end of downtown Los Angeles, about two miles from the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Following the Intel meetings, I was able to spend a day in downtown Los Angeles viewing the city and taking photographs. Downtown Los Angeles is actually very nice. It is far nicer than what most people think of when they think of LA; sprawl. Excellent architecture abounds. There are parks and public spaces. There are fountains and flowers. Given LA’s general reputation, the downtown area is amazingly pedestrian friendly; it is an outstanding city for walking around.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall is a breathtaking structure. It is clad in large stainless steel sheets, laid on like shingles that give the entire center a shimmering, mirror-like quality. It reflects the colors from the sky and the streets making its coloring perfectly matched to its surroundings. Its whimsical, multi-faceted shape seems a bit cartoonish; not inappropriate for a design tied to the name Disney. From every viewpoint, the structure is interesting, balanced and beautiful.
I approached the building from West 2nd Street and walked all the way around and through the building going counter-clockwise. I say ‘through the building’ because there are a number of walkways that go between sections of the building and through gardens that have been incorporated into the design. You don’t see all these galley ways from the street; you have to be walking to find them. Each of these areas is a delight in its own right. Every angle is unique. Every view is new. It is an incredibly complex structure that incorporates dozens of unique facades and hundreds of odd angles and surface planes.
Frank Gehry certainly has a fine imagination. This example of his work is simply spectacular. The level of detail and apparent consideration for every possibly viewing angle is amazing. Should you find yourself in downtown Los Angeles with a couple of hours to kill, visit this building. Don’t drive by. Walk through it. Walk slowly. Take it in. Bring a camera. You’ll love it.
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