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Architect Candidates for Disney Hall Share Views : Six Finalists Bring Diverse Backgrounds Bunker Hill Site

January 21, 1988|JUDITH MICHAELSON | Times Staff Writer

"The architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness," wrote Frank O. Gehry to Music Center officials, describing how he would approach designing the Walt and Lily Disney Concert Hall for the new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Gehry and five others, gleaned after a six-month comprehensive international search, were the architects designated as semifinalists last Thursday for the new hall atop downtown's Bunker Hill. The others are Gottfried Bohm of Cologne, West Germany; Henry Nichols Cobb (of I.M. Pei & Partners), New York; Hans Hollein of Vienna; Renzo Piano of Genoa, Italy, and James Stirling of London.

As the only Los Angeles architect--whose buildings from the Aerospace Museum to the Hollywood library to the Temporary Contemporary, dot the local landscape--Gehry added:

"Because of climate and context, we have a freedom that many American cities do not enjoy. We can make usable year-round outdoor spaces to complement our buildings. We have endless variety of plant material that flourishes only here. We can create an oasis in the urban clutter."

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday January 22, 1988 Home Edition Calendar Part 6 Page 12 Column 1 Entertainment Desk 2 inches; 46 words Type of Material: Correction
In a story in Calendar on Thursday on the six semifinalist candidates for the design of Disney Hall, three words were inadvertently dropped from a sentence, distorting the meaning. The sentence should have read that the cultural community knows how disappointed Frank O. Gehry was "that he did not get to design MOCA itself."

Bohm of Cologne, West Germany, received the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 1986 for a vast body of work encompassing four decades in Germany, including the Church of the Pilgrimage at Neviges, the Zublin corporate headquarters in Stuttgart and the Pavilion for Stuttgart Opera House. There are, however, no examples of his work in North America.

"One of my preoccupations (has always been) to plan large gathering places for people in the form of churches, theaters or concert halls," Bohm wrote to the Music Center. "I would envision the creation of a space which by itself asks to be filled with music, a building which projects its purpose in its alluring exterior. It should have a distinctive festive presence" in the "life of the neighborhood."

The competition is the result of Lillian B. Disney's $50-million gift to the Music Center, announced last May. With appreciation, the gift for the concert hall and related facilities across First Street from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion could reach $60 million. The selection of the six was made at Mrs. Disney's home, said Richard Koshalek, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art and chairman of the five-man architectural subcommittee which named the semifinalists.

The second cut takes place in early April, noted Koshalek. The architect is expected to be named by the Disney Hall Committee in August.

The key choice of acoustician will be made by the committee later in the year, after consulting with the architectural subcommittee and the commissioned architect, said Frederick M. Nicholas, chairman of the Disney Hall Committee.

These preliminary brief sketches of purpose are further excerpts from the candidates' two-page statements on how they would approach building a concert hall for the Music Center that were released (in excerpted form) to The Times by the Disney Hall Committee:

Cobb--architect of the Portland Museum of Art in Maine and the Library Square Towers under construction downtown; former chairman of Harvard's Graduate School of Design--noted in his statement: "The great challenge in concert hall design is to create a physical setting wherein the social pleasures of congregation can be successfully joined with their opposite: the intensely inward contemplation that accompanies the enjoyment of music by both listener and performer. . . . Los Angeles must ultimately inspire a Concert Hall essentially without precedent, just as it inspired, more than a half century ago, a (Central) Library essentially without precedent."

Hollein is the architect of two major art museums in Frankfurt and Monchengladbach, West Germany. He is the designer as well of furniture, lighting equipment, household appliances, sunglasses and is crafting a piano for the Austrian manufacturer Bosendorfer.

"I have for many years been interested in California and particularly in Los Angeles and always wanted to build there," he wrote. "From my days as a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, and my research on Los Angeles architecture . . . I have a standing relationship with the city and some of its important people . . . I have visited the site recently," Hollein added, "and think it has the potential for an 'acropolis' of the arts."

Piano--architect of the Menil Collection Museum in Houston last year, co-designer of the Pompidou Center in Paris a decade before that, who in November received the commission to build the new Newport Harbor Art Museum--delivered one of the more diplomatic statements of the six, obviously in tune with the notion of a very active, participating client, which the Music Center has already signaled it will be.

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