One of the many things I adore about Downtown Los Angeles is its beautiful architecture. There is an interesting juxtaposition of traditional and contemporary building designs. One of the modern structures I admire is the Walt Disney Concert Hall designed by Frank Gehry. While it’s definitely worth attending a concert here, especially since the acoustics are amazing thanks to the artistic yet functional design of the auditorium, those living on a budget can also participate in a free tour on most days from 10AM to 2PM!
There are three types of tours available to visitors depending on the days. There is a 60-minuted guided tour with a tour guide. In addition, there is a Symphonian 4-Theatre Tour, which is a 90-minute tour of the Walt Disney Concert Hall as well as the Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, and Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (where Golda and I attended a free opera open house last year). I ended up doing a self-guided audio tour so that I wouldn’t be restricted in starting the tour at the same time as the tour guide. It allowed me to explore the concert hall leisurely at my own pace.
After leaving my ID at the Grand Lobby, I received my audio device and headphones. The audio tour takes you on a straight path through the hall one level at a time. You will pass by the BP Hall, a venue filled with colorful chairs that houses receptions and informal talks. There is also the Gershwin Gallery, which features a small rotating gallery of manuscripts, notes, photos, etc. of composers and musicians. When I explored the Gershwin Gallery, they showcased a “I Love Lucy” gallery, which is still up according to their website. After all, actor and producer Desi Arnaz was also a famous Cuban-American musician, and as mentioned in the gallery, the television show shooting often followed the band’s tour. Another interesting tidbit I found out by reading one of the articles posted in the gallery was how actress Lucille Ball had to fight against various censorships to allow “I Love Lucy” to insert her real-life pregnancy into the storyline.
Of course, the main attraction of the Walt Disney Concert Hall is the auditorium, which can host 2,265 people. Much like the exterior, there’s an emphasis placed in curves with the overall design reminding me of a flower blossoming. It’s only “natural” that the material in the auditorium consists of another aspect of nature, the douglas fir. A majestic organ also stands prominently in the middle. After admiring the auditorium, I walked up to the roof, where I saw the steel exterior up-close. The urban steel provides an intriguing contrast to the warm, wooden interior. Don’t get too close to the steel because at noon, it gets really hot! Here, you can also take some time to enjoy a high-angle view of the rest of Downtown LA, including City Hall, before you head down the stairs leading to the entrance to the Grand Lobby.
Next time you visit Downtown LA, make sure to go to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Check out their schedule here of all the available tours! With the exception of the Gershwin Gallery, you are also allowed to take as many photos as you like, including the auditorium!! The Walt Disney Concert Hall is located at 111 South Grand Avenue. There are metered street parking nearby, which is free on Sundays. The parking lot in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and other lots nearby sometimes offer a weekend flat rate of $5 or lower. You can also take bus #1, 2, 10, 14, 37, 55, 60, 70, 71, 76, 78, 79, 96, 355, 378, 442, 487, 489, 493, 497, 498, 499, 699, 701, and 770. It is also only two blocks away from the Civic Center Metro Station. Go to our Facebook page for more photos, and be sure to follow us on Twitter @SurvivingLA for future updates!
Until next time,