Sunday photoblogging: Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney concert hall, Los Angeles

by Chris Bertram on November 30, 2014



Barry 11.30.14 at 1:13 pm



Bloix 11.30.14 at 3:40 pm

Another shot that plays games with the illusion of a vanishing point created by lines that actually converge.


Yan 11.30.14 at 4:06 pm

Wonderful. It’s quite a feat to take a truly beautiful photo of a Gehry. I mean that quite seriously. Partly because their visual interest is so strongly dimensional, so they resist reduction to a two dimensional composition. But mainly because they’re so repetitive, samey, and predictable in their attempted unconventionality, so it’s hard to find in them a truly striking rather than merely interesting form. Very nicely done.


js. 11.30.14 at 8:38 pm

This is very nice. I happen to despise Gehry—aesthetically, ideologically, and probably in a few other ways as well. But I really like how this abstracts from most of the Gehry madness to get forms that are cleaner and simpler. Thanks.


Bruce Wilder 11.30.14 at 8:43 pm

Very impressive photograph.

I would second what Yan and js. said in explaining how impressed I am.


William Timberman 11.30.14 at 9:12 pm

Do agree about the photograph, don’t agree about Gehry, but as this is a day of grace for those who are wrong on the Internet….


Glen Tomkins 11.30.14 at 9:23 pm

“… a day of grace for those who are wrong on the Internet….”

Better extend that one day of grace to every day, because otherwise being wrong on the Internet, treated as a sin, would have Hell overflowing within the week.


William Timberman 11.30.14 at 9:25 pm

Hell is a large place. I mean, consider the size of its annex here….


Ze Kraggash 11.30.14 at 9:29 pm

Terrible stuff. I suppose the one in Prague is bearable, unless you have to see it every day.


Kenny Easwaran 11.30.14 at 11:05 pm

Beautiful angle on a building I’m fairly familiar with, but have never quite seen that way! Any interesting shots of the under-construction Broad Museum next door?


Bloix 11.30.14 at 11:50 pm

I’ve walked around the Disney and didn’t recognize your vantage point. Using google maps (which has great street views of LA), my best guess is that you are just to the left of the main entrance shooting at a steep angle – the shape that looms up in the foreground is actually well below the two that are behind it.

To me, the problem with the Disney is that it hates the street – on three sides, it presents blank brick walls to passersby. But I like the elevated shapes.


bob 12.01.14 at 12:09 am

There are a number of Gehry buildings that I don’t much care for, but his addition/reworking at the Art Gallery of Ontario is quite good.


mattski 12.01.14 at 12:30 am

That is a pretty rad photo.


Doctor Memory 12.01.14 at 12:34 am

The Disney was my personal come-to-jesus moment on Gehry. Like a lot of people, I’d only ever seen his buildings in wide-angle photographs, and my attitude was pretty similar to js@4: I simply could not understand how anyone would ever fall for such obvious hucksterism. (And see also.)

And then one day while visiting some friends in LA I decided to give myself an impromptu walking tour of downtown. Mostly I was there to gawp at the Bradbury building, but since the concert hall was right there (and skid row, while memorable, did not strike me as a safe or respectful place to take photos) I hiked over to it and started walking around. And around. And up and down and through and around again. Dear lord. I had seen nothing like it before, and suspect that it would take a trip to the Bilbao to see anything like it again.


Donald A. Coffin 12.01.14 at 12:42 am

Beautiful photograph.

I’ll admit to being in a minority about Gehry’s buildings (I’ve only been in a couple). They are beautiful to look at, but my own sense is that they aren’t particularly functional (but, then, I love Mies Van der Rohe’s buildings, so what do I know?).


Alan White 12.01.14 at 1:06 am

The framing around that central square angle helps make the photo, though the flow of color to the b&w touch at the bottom completes it. Just great.


js. 12.01.14 at 6:15 am

I love Mies Van der Rohe’s buildings

Yeah, Mies is absolutely genius. Gehry on the other hand… Anyway, apologies for minor derailment.


rea 12.01.14 at 2:48 pm

Isn’t this one of those buildings where reflected sunlight was melting cars parked on the street?


Bloix 12.01.14 at 6:46 pm


etv13 12.01.14 at 9:06 pm

@Donald A. Coffin: I’ve been to a concert there, and to lunch in its café, and it functions pretty nicely for both purposes, actually.


J. Parnell Thomas 12.01.14 at 9:17 pm

I saw a free concert there by Christian McBride with Patrice Rushen, and I thought it quite nice inside. They’re always having cool experimental concerts at Redcat, which I think is part of it or something, which I often seriously consider attending. When it first opened Keith Jarrett went into one of his famous rants, this one about the acoustics, which had been much hyped. I seem to remember something about it not requiring amplification, and I either vaguely recall or have imagined something about whatever Keith complained about being fixed somehow, but the concert I heard, well, it was fusion, so, you know.

I also think the outside looks fine whenever I pass by. Maybe it just doesn’t translate to 2D or something.


Dr. Hilarius 12.02.14 at 5:18 am

Lovely photo. The EMP building is the only Gehry building I’ve seen in the flesh. It’s ugly from a distance and doesn’t improve upon approach, somehow dull while trying to be flashy.


bad Jim 12.02.14 at 9:17 am

I love Gaudí and loathe Gehry and can’t reconcile those feelings. I suppose I don’t have an aesthetic.


rea 12.02.14 at 2:45 pm

Bloix @19–so, per the linked article, it is indeed one of those buildings where reflected sunlight was melting cars parked on the street . . .


Minor Heretic 12.03.14 at 3:30 am

Aside from aesthetic complaints, the thing that irks me about Gehry buildings is their utter ignorance of their surroundings.

A colleague of mine, an architect, was visiting L.A., walked by the Gehry/Disney building and noticed that at a certain point he felt hotter. He identified the curved reflector on the building and went shopping. He got an aluminum pole, a skewer, some hot dogs, and some buns. After a bit of negotiation with perplexed security staff he used the building as a solar cooker to roast hot dogs for his family.

A year or so later neighbors across the street sued the Disney building owners because the concentrated reflections of solar energy had made their air conditioning bills skyrocket. The building was modified with less reflective surfaces on that side.

I hadn’t heard about the melting cars. I thought that was a building in London.

Ok, it is kind of interesting as a sculpture, but a disaster as a building in a desert environment. Just down the street there is a building from the early 20th century, made of masonry and designed to stay cool and moderately lit without air conditioning or lots of electric light.

Great photos, but I’d classify them as architectural disaster porn.


rea 12.03.14 at 9:07 pm

I hadn’t heard about the melting cars. I thought that was a building in London.

I will confess to some slight hyperbole. :(

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