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Still heard, but less is seen

July 01, 2007|Christine N. Ziemba

QUICK -- what's different about the Hollywood Bowl? The discerning, or those who stare long enough at the rim of the Bowl's band shell, might notice that the three speaker towers recently received a subtle new look, just in time for the summer season. Now, instead of Erector Set-esque metal rigging, the towers have been "shrouded" in white aluminum.

The dressing of the towers quite literally caps the end of the Hollywood Bowl's multiyear face-lift.

While the venue's $25-million shell project was completed with great fanfare for the beginning of the 2004 concert season, these last elements of the reconstruction -- which were a part of the original designs by L.A.-based architects Hodgetts + Fung -- were put off for a few years mostly because of the Bowl's heavy schedule.

"We can't work on anything while the Bowl is running," says Arvind Manocha, vice president and general manager of the venue. "At best we have seven months [at a time] to do the construction."

So for the last few summers, the Bowl staff evaluated the speaker systems to make sure that the towers would remain in their current positions before adding the pieces.

Manocha likens the new coverings to the "last finishing touches of an art project."

The shrouds, which to the untrained eye look a little like boxy awnings hanging over a ladder of aluminum siding, will not affect the Bowl's acoustics, says Manocha. "We've done nothing to jeopardize the integrity of the listening experience."

While the replacement of the Hollywood Bowl's 1929 shell was funded by voters through the passage of Proposition A in 1996, these shrouds were funded privately by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Manocha declined to reveal their cost.

This is L.A. after all. So if you have to ask, you probably can't afford it.

-- Christine N. Ziemba

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