Disney Hall
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The Walt Disney Concert Hall was opened in downtown Los Angeles on 30 Oct 2003.  Designed by world famous architect Frank Gehry the building is unlike any other in the city. During the day you can take free tours of the building which, due to constant practice sessions, unfortunately do not include the concert hall itself. There are some notes about the building below the thumbnail table on this page.

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The key reason Disney Hall looks the way it does is due to the computer software Gehry used to design it.  He used a Computer Aided Design (CAD) program called CATIA. The unique thing about CATIA is that it was developed by the French aerospace industry to design airplanes. As a result, CATIA is very good at generating large, smoothly curved surfaces and at creating smooth transitions between intersecting curved surfaces. Prior to this architects used other CAD programs that were based on traditional mechanical drawing techniques, which means they were good for straight lines, flat surfaces, and angles.

People who are familiar with Gehry's work will note the strong resemblance between Disney Hall and the Guggenheim-Bilboa museum in Spain (website here.) In fact, Gehry designed Disney Hall first and it was planned to be surfaced in stone. For various reasons the Bilboa building was constructed first, and when Gehry saw how it looked with stainless steel facing he changed the design of the Disney Hall building to use that material too.

I've been to one concert of the Los Angeles Philharmonic given at Disney Hall. The acoustics in the concert hall are extraordinarily good and the reason is apparently related to the 4" thick concrete walls that form the basic structure of the hall.  On the inside the hall is covered with wood, so no concrete is visible.

During construction the underlying steel was so complex and peculiar looking that there were several comments published in the Los Angeles Times suggesting that it would be impossible to complete construction because it would be impossible to get all the oddly shaped pieces to fit together properly.  Clearly this was an incorrect assumption.

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