At the onset, architect Frank
Gehry held no preconceptions for the ultimate form of the hall except that he did want a sculpted
shape that would be evocative of music and create an intimacy between the orchestra and audience.
wanted a space that would create a warm sound, but also one of exceptional clarity.
Walt Disney's family were adamant that the hall would
be on par or surpass the sound of the world's finest.
The concert hall committe and officers of the Los Angeles
Philharmonic visited halls throughout the world and selected halls in Berlin, Amsterdam, and Boston as the standard to match
Philharmonic musicians had played Suntory Hall in Tokyo several times
and thought is was a terrific. (Toyota designed the acoustics) There the concert platform is centered, with the audience
seated on all sides. Early on they said they preferred this shape.
Gehry made more than 30 small-scale models and Toyota would
evaluate and critique the acoustical characteristics of their shape, one by one.
The first concept design was a synthesis, integrating
a sculptural seating design into a regular box. Gehry described the seating design as a wooden boat in a plastic box.
Metaphorically it was "a ceremonial barge on which the orchestra and the audience would take a journey
The idea behind the design was that music as experience was
more important than merely hearing the sound. The "psycho-acoustic" of the room became the design goal.
Toyota evaluated Genry's sail-like curves of the ceiling and the flow of the interior walls. Happily he found that the articulation of theses parts and
the convex curves actually improved the acoustics. It scattered the sound and caused more reflections– adding warmth
Larger models were built for further testing. The first tests
were conducted optically using a laser to map the pattern of sound reflections from ceiling and walls onto the seating areas.
Later testing was conducted acoustically on a model that was
one-tenth the actual size of the hall. Sound impulses at ten-times normal frequency, were used to verify the final shaping
of the walls and ceiling, and to tune the hall’s reverberation by the placement of absorbent material. Ultimately the
goal of superior acoustic quality was achieved.
Today, Disney Concert Hall is considered to be among the most
acoustically superb spaces in the world for performance and enjoyment. And it’s also perfectly suited for in-house recordings
and film scoring.