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Symphony: Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall Hardcover – November 11, 2003

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Frank Gehry has called Walt Disney Concert Hall a "living room" for the city of Los Angeles. Opened in Fall 2003 to rapturous praise, the hall beckons all comers with a billowing steel facade gleaming in the sunlight. Nearly 100 stunning color photographs and four concise, engaging essays by notable, mostly L.A.-based contributors make Symphony: Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall the ideal overview of this major civic and cultural landmark. Significant architectural, acoustical, urban design and civic leadership angles are all covered, including the checkered history of the project, stalled for years due to a ballooning budget, a complex decision-making process and a misguided attempt to relegate Gehry to a consulting role. In the end, as Michael Webb points out, the lag time proved valuable to Gehry, coinciding with his mastery of a new architectural language that he first explored in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The book is full of intriguing details. For example, the acoustical scheme developed by Dr. Minoru Nagata relies in part on a surprising discovery he made—-that the quality of sound in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, long attributed to the resonant wood walls, was really due to the four inches of plaster underneath. The most ambitious chapter is Carol McMichael Reese's discussion of the hall's role in the long-term rehabilitation of downtown Los Angeles. For all its scrupulous detail and balanced assessments, however, she fails to give an eye-level view of the gritty texture of downtown Los Angeles and how alien it still is to the average symphony patron. The book concludes with an essay by Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, who notes the appropriateness of visionary design to the modern symphonic repertoire he champions. —Cathy Curtis

About the Author

Garrett White, founder of Five Ties Publishing, is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn. His translations include An Uspeakable Betrayal: Selected Writings of Luis Buñuel, and Hollywood: Meccas of the Movies, by Blaise Cendrars.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (November 11, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810949814
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810949812
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.8 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #626,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Webb is the author of 26 books on modern architecture and design, and has contributed essays to many more. He grew up in London, where he worked at The Times and Country Life magazine, before moving to the U.S. in 1969 to become Programming Director of the American Film Institute. He then curated a major traveling exhibition for the Smithsonian, Hollywood: Legend and Reality, before resuming his writing career. He now lives in Los Angeles when he is not traveling the world to gather material for books and articles.

Webb is a regular contributor to The Architectural Review, Contract, Frame, Interiors, Mark and The Plan, and has written extensively for Architectural Digest, Domus and The New York Times, among other publications. His reviews appear on formmag.net and in The Architects Newspaper. He is currently preparing a survey of innovative housing solutions and another book on restoring classic modern houses.

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Format: Hardcover
It is the beginning of the Third Season of the Walt Disney Concert Hall as the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a reminder to again study the conceptual emergence of Frank Gehry's architectural masterpiece. SYMPHONY: FRANK GEHRY'S WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL is as fine a way to understand why all the magic happens as any book on his work and about this building in particular.

Beautifully illustrated, this takes us from the origin of Gehry's idea, the various sketches, renderings and models, the ground breaking ceremonies, then the gradual rising of the skeleton of the support system to the wrapping of the sculpture in various glazes of steel and glass, to the finished product. Each stage is extraordinary, mesmerizing, detailed and edifying.

Accompanying the work in progress are essays and commentary by acoustician Minoru Nagata, urban specialist Carol McMichael Reese, Frank Gehry, Deborah Borda and Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and enhance the majestic photography by Grant Mudford.

But as with all descriptive books, all written and photographic comments, the truth is in the final result: the quality of sound and spiritual experience of live orchestral and choral music in the hall is paramount. And it is now, after two seasons and beginning its third that the proof is in the hearing. This is one of the most acoustically perfect places to experience music in the world. Composers (including Salonen in 'Wing on Wing') continue to be inspired to write commissioned works that reveal ever more extensive attributes of the space.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was everything and more than I expected. The level of detail in the drawings and pictures along with the story accompanying the concept, planning and construction of Disney Hall are well worth the price if you are a Gehry fan. Disney Hall is in my opinion a Gehry masterpiece.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After seeing the building in person, I just had to have the book and am totally thrilled to be able to keep rereading it frequently
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book arrived as expected.
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