Fun with Frank Gehry!
The really great thing about going on a field school is that you actually get to be in “the field”. Who would have thought!? But seriously, there is something so much more powerful about standing next to a building than looking at a picture of it in a textbook, or walking along the streets of Los Angeles (even if it is raining) instead of looking at a map. That powerful feeling comes from the experience, and the long lasting memory it creates. A really good example of this, for me, was when we visited Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall (see image to the left).
On one of our field school adventures, we took a small stroll through a forest of skyscrapers, only to end up standing in front of this captivating building! It really is unlike anything else, and to be right there in front of it truly felt surreal.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall was not unfamiliar to me before this trip, in fact it is probably one of the most predominate examples of postmodern architecture today– I’ll base that conclusion off that fact that if you Google “postmodern architecture” it is the first image to come up… Never the less, getting to go on a tour of this famous building captivated me on a whole new level.
On our tour of the building we got to weave inside and out, which helped explain the juxtaposed feeling of “coldness” on the outside and “warmness” on the inside portrayed through the built environment and the use of certain materials. However, what stood out to me was the fact that a lot of the building’s materials (stainless steel, wood, glass and a mosaic of fine china) were all things that could easily be found in a modern kitchen. In a house, the kitchen is often a popular gathering place for mingling and entertainment, which seemed to parallel nicely with the purpose of the Concert Hall. I don’t believe this was Gehry’s intention, but it seemed like a strange coincidence…
We also learned about the rationale and inspiration behind some of the design. For example, some of the design makes reference to Lillian Disney, who donated $50 million dollars to the construction of the Concert Hall. Lillian Disney enjoyed flowers and had a huge garden at her home, which is where Gehry spent a lot of his time searching for inspiration. This, plus Lillian’s love of fine china led to the creation of the “Rose Fountain” found on the patio of the Concert Hall. The flower’s in Lillian’s garden also inspired the carpet pattern, and the design found on the seat cushions inside.
It is also said that the exterior of the building is suppose to resemble the sails of a ship. I think if you look at the image below you can almost see a beautiful ship coming to life, docked in the cement streets of downtown Los Angeles.