Los Angeles, California, USA
“The Colburn School is an incredibly important asset to the cultural district of Downtown Los Angeles,” said Frank Gehry.
“Their new hall is a major blessing for the music world of this city, and I am honored to be a part of it. I hope that we have helped create a setting to nurture and grow the next generations of talent.”
Canadian-born architect Frank Gehry plans the transformation and expansion of Colburn School’s Performing Arts Center creating more space for inspiration for young performing artists, performing arts organizations, and ensembles and increasing the capacity of the existing performing halls.
The Colburn Center is located directly across the intersection of Olive and Second Streets from the Colburn School’s existing campus, complementing and completing both its facilities and its architecture, which already support over 500 performances a year.
The new expansion, encompassing a total of 100,000 square-foot (9,290-square-metre) area, will be located across the street from the School’s existing campus in the cultural corridor that includes Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Music Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and The Broad.
The project will enhance the capacity of the Colburn School’s campus with new performance and educational programs and will create a space for “an even livelier hub of artistic activity.”
Gehry’s design comprises a dynamic composition made of transparent and opaque interlocking blocks that slope down from Olive Street to Hill Street.
The design features a 1,000-seat concert hall that uses an in-the-round scheme to form intimacy between the performers and the audience and removes the stage lip, putting front-row seats at eye-level with the performers.
The hall will house orchestra, opera, dance, and musical theater performances. The rounded-shaped hall is equipped with an orchestra pit and a stage large enough to accommodate the grandest works and the largest orchestrations.
The project consists of a 100-seat flexible studio theater and four professional-sized dance studios. Both studios are enveloped in glass and provide a literal window into the beauty and rigor of dance training and performance.
On the Olive Street side, a transparent, three-story-high main entrance and lobby will lead to the building’s 1,000-seat concert hall: the Colburn School’s first venue for a full-scale orchestra and home to the Conservatory’s flagship ensemble, the Colburn Orchestra.
The large theatre, called Terri and Jerry Kohl Hall — named after the project’s leadership donors, will feature floating balconies and tiers of seats embracing a circular stage area, as well as an orchestra pit to accommodate up to 70 musicians.
Gehry suspends the panels above the ceiling for an acoustical environment, while the panels resemble clouds floating over the hall. In keeping with this airy atmosphere, two skylights will bring daylight into the space.
The dance spaces housing the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute will create the most comprehensive dance education complex in Downtown Los Angeles.
Glass-enclosed studios and a studio theater with approximately 100 seats will face Hill Street. The transparent spaces will create opportunities for the public to witness the beauty and hard work of dance training.
The studio theater will sit atop a two-story stack of four dance studios—three measuring 2,600 square feet and another for tap dance measuring 1,400 square feet.
Due to the slope of the terrain, the studio theater will be at the same level as the entrance to the concert hall.
These building volumes will be complemented with two gardens and add a new green space in Downtown LA.
There will be a roof garden on top of the studio theater to offer views over 2nd Street and space for pre-performance receptions, intermission gatherings, or a place for small-scale outdoor performances.
A second garden, located at ground level, will include an area for the public as well as a gated entrance at Hill Street and 2nd Street, where students, faculty, parents, and visitors may gather, study, converse, and relax, as well as enjoy small concerts.
“With great joy and excitement, we share the design of Frank Gehry’s multi-dimensional project, which will welcome our students, performing artists, and audiences from across Los Angeles,” said Colburn President Sel Kardan.
“We look forward to collaborating with our artistic partners in Terri and Jerry Kohl Hall, which complements the other stellar performance spaces in Downtown Los Angeles,” Kardan adds.
The project is expected to be completed in 2023 and host its first performances in the fall of 2025.
Project: Expansion of Colburn School Campus
Architects: Gehry Partners LLP
Lead Architect: Frank Gehry
Client: Colburn School