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by Ken Pellman (archives)
May 15, 2003
Ken gives an overview of and takes a look at the new Walt Disney Concert Hall

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Walt Disney Concert Hall as seen from the intersection of Grand Avenue and Second Street in downtown Los Angeles
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Kenversations™ - The Walt Disney Concert Hall

 When I first heard about the Walt Disney Concert Hall many years ago, I pictured a building comprised of beautiful, elaborate architecture fitting for a name associated with fairy-tale castles, Fantasyland, Space Mountain, EPCOT Center’s Spaceship Earth, Horizons, or Journey Into Imagination. I guess I was expecting a design based on classical architectural elements, maybe with a modernist flair.

I was perplexed when I read some Letters to the Editor in the Los Angeles Times from people responding to a picture of a model depicting how the Hall would look. They were calling it ugly. One letter writer claimed he got a better looking design by dumping the contents of his waste basket into a pile.

They can’t be serious, I thought.

Then I saw a picture of the model.

My first reaction was that it was worse than the letter writers made it seem.

What was it supposed to be? A bunch of boxes pressed together and then stomped on?

It is interesting what a difference time and higher education makes. After several semesters of torturous Environmental Design and other sleep depriving, soul-crunching, mind-warping courses at a university, I actually like the design of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. I know, I know, this sort of thing is precisely why some people DON’T want their kids to attend college. (I'd like to give a shout-out to B.C. - you know who you are - remember when I called the Hall "ugly"? Those were the days.)

Through my pleasant educational experience, I learned to appreciate “interesting? buildings that didn’t look like simple boxes and to appreciate the spaces their shapes created; the sense of place created by the shapes.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall will most certainly be a signature part of the downtown Los Angeles skyline as part of the Los Angeles County Music Center. The Hall is bordered by Hope Street, First Street, Grand Avenue, and Second Street.

I was privileged to tour the building on a recent Saturday morning (it's expected to hold its first event in October). Yes, the building has some wonderful spaces and a nice sense of place.

The complex was designed to specifically be inviting to pedestrians and encourage the public to partake of the atmosphere. The designer calls it a "downtown living room".

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This is a column designed to give the feel of a tree in the entrance area.
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Views of the ground-level entrance area...
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11188 bytes to the public and designed with movement in mind.
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