My previous post was about our New Year’s Eve plans to attend a concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Each season thousands of people visit the hall to enjoy the many musical offerings, but it is also a popular tourist attraction for its architectural interest and garden.
For the longest time I heard comments about the rose garden. How was it possible to have a rose garden and I had never noticed? Recently we decided to conduct our own walking tour so I could settle that question.
Let me first tell you a little bit about the building.
I won’t mislead! When I first saw the shell of the Frank Gehry -designed Disney Concert Hall I didn’t easily warm up to it. I might have been a little resentful. We’d held Los Angeles Philharmonic season tickets at the right-next-door Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for a few years. The Chandler Pavilion is one of the halls in the Los Angeles Music Center, with 3,197 seats spread out over four tiers. When the Disney Concert Hall was added to the Music Center complex, the Philharmonic moved to the state-of-the art, acoustically superior new facility, and seating capacity was downsized by about 1,000 seats. Season ticket sales also escalated, and we were priced out.
This stainless steel origami-like design didn’t seem to fit in to the neighborhood. It was completely alien to my aesthetic appreciation. Alien, yes! Was it a space craft?
There were some reflection problems that needed correction, too. Most of the exterior’s stainless steel was given a matte finish; however, some of the panels’ reflective qualities were designed to hold a high polish with mirror qualities.
The contrast was quite beautiful, but posed very large problems for neighboring condominium owners experiencing extreme glare and reflected heat. Drivers also reported the hazard of a blinding reflective glare. The solution? The Gehry Partners executed a computer analysis of the building’s surface and in 2005 the offending panels were treated with a light sanding.
It took some time, but after my first visit as a patron to the Concert Hall I began to appreciate the new kid on the block. Now I’m mesmerized by it. I don’t think you can really capture the essence of an architect’s design intention when speeding by in a car. But to walk around, touch it, take the time to marvel at the curvilinear greatness and suddenly my perspective shifted to seeing the building with new eyes. It was a bonding experience.
But where is that garden? We walked around and poked our heads in every street level pocket we could find. Nothing.
Where do THOSE stairs lead?
Curiosity and investigation paid off! The rooftop of the Walt Disney Concert Hall is well worth the visit! In the heart of the city, traffic and bustle below, is a quiet, almost hidden oasis. It’s not an easy area to photograph because the pathways and small seating areas continue to follow the curves of the building’s design. But the view is well worth the effort to get there.
But where is the rose garden?
Not a literal rose garden after all! Were we surprised! Prominently places as centerpiece to the sitting garden, we found a lovely gift to the Concert Hall’s original benefactor, Lilian Disney, designed for her by the Concert Hall’s architect and artist, Frank Gehry.
How many people walk by this building in a day? Thousands! See what you discover if you continue to look up?
And just down the street is another one of our favorite places to enjoy the evening. L.A. Live is a wonderful theater and sports complex, with beautiful hotels, fine dining, and for the holiday season, an outdoor ice rink, lots of lights and festive atmosphere.
If you’re curious to learn what L.A. Live has to do with Batman, you’ll just have to come back. I think it’s time for me to close out and get on with starting my day. I have a busy day planned. But you know that wherever I go I’ll be keeping an eye out for something new I haven’t previously seen or experienced. That’s my favorite way to enjoy a weekend exhale.
Despite the temptation to fall into the hectic and completely overextended season’s frenzy, I encourage you to slow down and “smell the roses.” Even a concrete work of art can offer a breath of fresh air. Don’t you agree?