Frank Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall is, for me, not just the architctectural center of 21st century Los Angeles, but also it’s spiritual heart and soul. It is one of those rare architectural achievements, like the great cathedrals of Europe, that fills one with awe, and elevates the spirit to a place that inspires what I can only call, a state of prayer.
The curved wooden forms through out the hall strongly evoke a nautical space. One sees everywhere and from every angle the flowing thwarts and gunnels of a great hull. It is as if we have entered an arc that will take on a great voyage to a new place, a place suffused with a profoundly quiet calm; with reverence.
Like Henry Moore, Gehry was influenced early on
by the abstract, biomorphic forms of surrealism. We can see some of this through some earlier painting and architecture that influenced him.
Below are the paintings of Dali, Gorky, and Miro. Below them is Le Corbusier’s Chapel at Ronchamp, which was a great influence on both Gehry, and all modernist architects to follow.
Gehry was also very influenced by Japanese architecture, both traditonal and modern.
He loved the Japanese tradition of interior woodwork. This is clearly echoed in his materials use and aesthetic at the Disney. Below is the Todaiji Temple at Nara.
In Disney Hall, Gehry has truly achieved a kind of transcendence that is as rare in architecture, as it is in any other art form. Sitting inside, the music seems to billow out and fill the sails of your ship, taking you on an unforgettable journey, both within and without, to the furthest reaches of the soul’s stirring.
I’d be curious to hear what architecture has particular meaning for people in their own lives.