Steel and Architecture: Walt Disney Concert Hall

Last appointment of this year with our column “Stainless steel in the world of architecture and construction”.

We close with the majesty of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the fourth concert hall of the Los Angeles Music Center and one of the most famous theaters in the world. Wanted, commissioned and partly donated to the city of Los Angeles by the widow Lillian Disney, it was built by the then semi-unknown – now Archistar – Frank Gehry, whose project won the competition held in 1989.

The client’s intention was to create in memory of her husband one of the most beautiful concert halls in the world, as well as a grand new home for the Philharmonic Orchestra.

What is now called a masterpiece of architecture and acoustics is a building made of concave and convex steel panels that look like many unfurled sails (the architect himself described it as “a sailboat with the wind at its back”).

This work is an example of the architect’s deconstructivist vision, in particular for the strong contrasts between the external and internal environment: if the interior is in fact warm and enveloping thanks to the use of fir wood, the exterior, with its metal curves and reflective surface that creates plays of light and makes light itself an architectural element, is strongly suggestive and impactful. Moreover, the strong contradictions of this project are also contained in the contrast between the closed volumes of the interior and the spatial tension of the exterior.

The undulating structure – also reminiscent of the petals of an open rose (Lillian Disney’s beloved flower) – is positioned on a raised platform and is characterized by four independent entrances, each positioned at the four corners of the building.

It took 16 years to complete the realization of this great project in which once again steel is the absolute protagonist and whose use is able to strike the eye of every observer.