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©David G. Gordon/Wikimedia
©David G. Gordon/Wikimedia

A History Of The Walt Disney Concert Hall In 1 Minute

Picture of Mary Pettas
Updated: 14 September 2016
The Walt Disney Concert Hall is the home of the LA Philharmonic Orchestra and the LA Master Chorale in Downtown Los Angeles. Of course, having opened officially on October 24, 2003, it was not built by the mastermind Walt Disney himself, but it was dedicated to his memory by his widow, Lillian Disney. Not surprisingly, throughout her 98-year lifetime she was a great supporter of the arts and related charities. In 1987, she made the original prolific $50 million dollar donation to build the concert hall to the Music Center of LA County.

However, the actual costs of construction far exceeded the initial donation as the work went on, and the progress faltered due to cost constraints, especially because of the extremely expensive parking garage that was built underground specifically for the hall. It almost seemed as if the civic work wasn’t going to be completed, until the Walt Disney company itself donated another $25 million to the project, along with some other enthusiastic private and corporate donors, such as Eli Broad (who also built the Broad Art Museum). In the end, the massive and ambitious center ended up costing an enormous $274 million dollars, and is a testament to the generosity and creative spirit that contributed to one of LA’s greatest buildings and civic works.

By David G. Gordon - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41052644  By Michael J Fromholtz - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40978064

©Michael J. Fromholtz/Wikimedia | ©David G. Gordon/Wikimedia | ©IK’s World Trip/Flickr

It is now the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Center, having been completed almost two decades after the original contribution and after Lillian Disney’s death. Mrs. Disney’s whole idea of building the concert hall was for it to be a cultural gift to the citizens of Los Angeles and to honor the many contributions her husband Walt made to the arts.

The building is one of renowned architect Frank Gehry’s most famous designs. It’s become a landmark in the city and all over the world, easily recognized by its shining, stainless steel exterior that embodies a modern yet whimsical aesthetic. He worked closely with Lillian Disney to envision a sleek cultural center that reflected the spirit of the city as she interpreted it. Gehry won the Pritzker prize for architecture. The concert hall sits on 3.6 acres and holds seating for 2,265 patrons.

The sound was designed by famed Japanese acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, who collaborated many high profile projects for many music venues, but none more impressive than the Walt Disney Concert Hall. It has been praised for its acoustics as well, and its grand opening was considered a huge success, as its look and sound impressed audiences and even the orchestra members themselves. The LA Philharmonic was entirely pleased with their new home, and happy that the public could experience their sound in the best possible venue. And so, the hall became yet another important cultural destination in a city that is full of iconic landmarks.