I recently took a field trip with my UCLA architecture class to the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. I had been to the hall before for performances, but this time I got a tour led by a docent…and you can too.
If you have seen photos or been yourself, I don’t have to tell you how stunning the stainless steel-clad building is.
The inside is breathtaking too – but not in such a grand way – it is simply gorgeous wood, mixed with white walls, steel accents, and a lot of light from large windows and sky lights. (Of course, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but most would agree the structure is a beauty.)
If you are visiting LA, or are a local – this is a fantastic place to visit on the weekend. Many locals eat lunch in the beautiful garden area on weekdays, and it is a quiet time to take a tour, but on some weekends there are free musical concerts and arts and crafts activities for the kids. (Look up “Phil the House” activities on the WDCH website.)
In my opinion, it’s one of the best cultural experiences for the little ones in all of my travels. The concerts don’t happen every week so plan ahead. The kids are also able to create a masterpieces at art tables set up outside.
If you don’t have children along, take the docent led tours…or if you prefer, a self-guided audio tour. Both take about an hour. The tour leads you throughout the inside of building, and some outdoor spots like the garden or public balcony.
Along the way you learn the story of how the magnificent downtown centerpiece came to be – Lillian Disney donated $ 50 million for a concert hall….there was an architectural contest … Frank Gehry’s design won, it is supposed to resemble a ship’s hull…the grand opening was in 2003.
The tour goes into a little more detail, but I have to be honest, I would have liked more in depth information from the docent. If you are someone who only wants to learn more, I’d recommend the book that tells the whole story – makes a nice coffee table topper. http://www.amazon.com/Symphony-Frank-Gehrys-Disney Concert/dp/0810949814
Unfortunately, the tours don’t go inside auditorium because there are rehearsals. Disappointed? It is still a worthwhile tour, but if you are dying to see the auditorium, why not go back for a LA Philharmonic performance? Here’s a tip:
If you are a student or a senior, buy rush tickets – show up two hours before concert time and get discounted tickets for $10 – $20!!! (Good seats normally can go for more than $100)
And don’t park in the hall’s parking lot – it is cheaper on the street, or in some of the lots nearby.
Check the WDCH’s website for schedules of both the self-guided and docent-led tours. http://musiccenter.org/visit/toursched.html
Now that spring is almost here, you can enjoy a clear view of downtown from various places on the tour. As much as LA is criticized, this landmark will leave one in awe, and hopefully inspire some appreciation for the City of Angels.