Take a tour of the Hall’s emerald treasure with our guest blogger Jenny Leary:
Following up on my previous posts about home gardening in LA, I went to see one of LA’s most interesting public green spaces, the garden at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The Disney Hall is internationally known as one of Frank Gehry’s architectural masterpieces. It offers a uniquely ambitious vision of architecture in LA’s downtown, and has attracted much public attention since its opening in 2003.
The garden, on the other hand, is shielded from the spotlight. I mean this both literally – it is tucked around the back of the building – and figuratively. The garden design follows a much more traditional form than the futuristic façade. In comparison, is doesn’t demand the same degree of public intrigue.
When I went on a tour of the building, I was surprised to learn about the historical importance of the garden. Lillian Disney initiated the project in 1987 with a donation of $50 million, making just two stipulations: that the concert hall must provide an unrivaled acoustic environment for the LA Philharmonic Orchestra, and that the site had to include a garden open to the public.
Her request resulted in an acre-large green space designed by Melinda Taylor. Anyone can walk through during opening hours and experience this hidden gem. It is a multi-hued bouquet of plants. The trees were selected to bloom in sequence so that the color palate changes throughout the symphonic season.
I was particularly impressed with the contrast between the garden and the building. The reflective steel panels provide a unique background to the trees and plants. Although they are from different worlds, there is an uncanny harmony between them.
Frank Gehry fans can also see his talent as a sculptor – he designed a voluptuous tiled fountain for the garden. Gehry paid tribute to Lillian Disney by covering the fountain in a mosaic of broken Delftware. Mrs Disney was an avid collector of the blue pottery.
You can see another homage to her inside the building. The carpets and upholstery are covered in a colorful pattern of abstract leaf-like shapes. When I asked the tour guide about this distinctive textile design, she said it was created specially for the Disney Hall. They named the pattern ‘Lillian’.
All images are accredited to Jenny Leary
Our ears on the ground in the USA. We have a team of writers who scour the United States for the best design events, designs, products and images to show how much of a hotbed for design the USA is. Read more posts by USA Correspondent.