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Gehry with a model of the concert hall (PC: Christina House)

The Colburn School to Commence Construction on New Performing Arts Center

Designed by Frank Gehry, the Colburn Center will host a 1,000-seat concert hall, adding a mid-size venue in downtown Los Angeles


Preliminary site work has now begun on the Colburn Center, a new $335 million concert venue for the Colburn School in downtown Los Angeles. The center, whose flagship venue will be a 1,000-seat concert hall, was designed by Frank Gehry — who is also the mastermind behind LA's Walt Disney Concert Hall.

The main concert hall, which is named for philanthropists Terri and Jerry Kohl, will feature an in-the-round design, with the lowest level of audience seats being directly level with the players to foster an intimate environment. It will have both an orchestra pit and a large stage, so that opera, dance, and symphonic concerts can be hosted with equal ease.

Alongside these features, Gehry will also add one of the floating balconies that have become his signature since he designed one for Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin.

"At first, everybody said, ‘Well, that’s not going to work,'" he told the Los Angeles Times. "Finally, that became nirvana. So wherever we go now, everybody wants a floating balcony."

The building features a great deal of space in the ceiling. Concrete sound clouds will be added for acoustic purposes, but Gehry also aims to make the space functional. "Our hope is once it’s built we’ll put catwalks through there and bring artists and performers so that will become another space, a part of the music," he said.

"The Colburn Center will be a game-changer, stepping up everything we do," said Sel Kardan, president of the Colburn School. "There’s always been a dream of having a place where our largest ensembles [such as symphony orchestras, bands, and choirs] can play. Currently, those programs take place off-site."

Construction will begin properly in April, following a groundbreaking ceremony and celebration on April 5.

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