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The finishing touches

An inside peek at Disney Concert Hall, which formally opens in five months.

May 15, 2003|Christopher Reynolds | Times Staff Writer

Do not attempt to adjust your newspaper, or your bifocals. That strange gleam around Grand Avenue and 1st Street is Walt Disney Concert Hall, the $274-million project that has loomed over downtown Los Angeles for 15 years, first as an idea in need of donor dollars, then as a bona fide construction project.

With five months to go before its formal unveiling, the auditorium at the heart of the hall is finished except for the smallest of details.

And throughout the 3.6-acre site, more than 9,000 panes of stainless-steel sheathing are in place, including a pair of doubly reflective, highly polished patches: the Founders Room at the north end and the W.M. Keck Foundation Children's Amphitheater at the south. Inside, work on the organ continues. but carpets have been laid, veneers of vertical-grain Douglas fir are in place, and 2,265 seats with boldly colored upholstery -- designed, like virtually everything else, by architect Frank O. Gehry -- await their first occupants.

Officials at the Music Center of Los Angeles County (which will operate the hall) and the Los Angeles Philharmonic (which will be its principal tenant) say the construction schedule and budget are proceeding as planned.

In anticipation of the series of galas that will formally open the building Oct. 23-25, Philharmonic musicians plan to begin rehearsals in the auditorium on June 30. But acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota has already begun tuning the space; the first echo tests with percussion and brass instruments began May 12.

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