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6 Architects Are Candidates for Disney Hall

January 15, 1988|JUDITH MICHAELSON | Times Staff Writer

Six architects--two Americans and four Europeans--have been named as semifinalist candidates to design the Walt and Lily Disney Concert Hall, the future $50-million home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic on Bunker Hill, it was announced Thursday.

The announcement was jointly made through a press statement issued by Frederick M. Nicholas, chairman of the Disney Hall Committee, and Richard Koshalek, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art and chairman of the architectural subcommittee.

Those named as semifinalists are:

--Gottfried Boehm, 67, of Cologne, West Germany, who won the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1986. Boehm designed the Church of the Pilgrimage in Neviges, West Germany, and the Zublin Corporate Headquarters in Zurich.

--Henry Nichols Cobb, 61, of I.M. Pei & Partners, New York City, who designed the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Me., and the Allied Bank Tower in Dallas.

--Frank O. Gehry, 58, of Frank O. Gehry and Associates Inc. of Venice, Calif., who designed the Frances Goldwyn Hollywood Regional Branch Library and New York's Madison Square Garden Site Redevelopment and South Tower.

--Hans Hollein, 53, of Vienna, winner of the Pritzker award in 1985, who designed the Museum of Modern Art buildings in both Frankfurt and Monchengladbach, West Germany.

--Renzo Piano, 50 of Building Workshop in Genoa, Italy, who designed the Menil Collection Museum in Houston and was part of the design team of the Centre Beaubourg, better known as the Georges Pompidou Centre, in Paris.

--James Stirling, 61, of James Stirling, Michael Wilford and Associates of London and Berlin, who designed the State Gallery and Chamber Theatre in Stuttgart, Germany, and the Clore Gallery in London.

"We didn't pick them for their experience in designing musical halls necessarily," Nicholas noted. "They were picked for their ability to problem solve, for their design talents, and for the fact that all six of these architects are at the peak of their abilities and production at this time in their careers."

The semifinalists were chosen, he added, exclusively by the five-member subcommittee. Besides Koshalek, the subcommittee consists of Earl A. Powell, director of the County Museum of Art; John Walsh, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum; Robert Harris, dean of the School of Architecture at USC, and Richard Weinstein, dean of the Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning at UCLA.

Acting as consultants were conductors Andre Previn, Zubin Mehta, Pierre Boulez and Simon Rattle.

"I am delighted with the thoroughness and diligence of the architectural subcommittee and am pleased with the candidates who have been selected by the subcommittee," said Lillian B. Disney through a spokesman. Her $50-million gift to the Music Center last May is making the construction of the new concert hall and related facilities possible.

F. Daniel Frost, chairman of the Music Center board of governors, called the subcommittee "outstanding." He said, "They have done brilliant work and have made a brilliant selection."

Ernest Fleischmann, executive director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, who sat in on each of the subcommittee meetings, said, "These are six of the greatest architects in the world today, no question about that. What is marvelous, there hasn't been any hint of favoritism or chauvinism, whatsoever. They have really gone for the best, regardless of any consideration of politics, the usual intrigue that you get in this thing. Each of these is a giant in his profession."

Previn, who was rehearsing Mendelssohn's Fourth Symphony with the Philharmonic, said he was "very pleased and delighted that the process is going forward and going so smoothly."

Cobb was a semifinalist and Stirling among three finalists four years ago in the competition to design the new J. Paul Getty Center in Brentwood. That commission went to architect Richard Meier of New York, the 1984 winner of the Pritzker, which is considered the Nobel Prize of architecture.

"I am enthusiastic about all six semifinalists," said the Getty's Walsh, "and having been through a similar process not long ago I admire this one very much, because it's thorough and serious and the Music Center knows its own mind."

The County Museum of Art's Powell noted that the semifinalists came out of "a fairly consequential and long dialogue. They have familiarization with symphony halls and musical halls and a wide-ranging experience with projects. After all Disney Hall is a part of a large scheme . . . "

The next step in the selection process, Nicholas said, will come in mid-March, when the architectural subcommittee will narrow the list to three or four finalists. The finalists will then be invited to submit schematic models and design drawings, he said. They will also be invited to Los Angeles to be interviewed.

The final choice is expected to be made in August. The construction phase of the project is anticipated to be from December, 1989, to December, 1991, Nicholas said.

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