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Frank Gehry to design performing arts school expansion

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The architect will get to try his hand at another concert hall

The Colburn School
The Colburn School’s expansion would add new performance spaces and a concert hall.
Photo by Bruce F. Cramer

Architect Frank Gehry isn’t finished leaving his mark on Downtown Los Angeles.

The Colburn School announced Wednesday that it had selected Gehry to design a major expansion of its Grand Avenue campus, which sits kitty-corner to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, one of the architect’s most iconic projects. The new facility will rise on a parcel of nearby land between Olive and Hill streets.

At the heart of the performing arts school’s proposed expansion: a new concert hall, with seating for 1,100 (about half the capacity of the Disney Hall). The project would also include new classroom and rehearsal space, an outdoor performance area, a 700-seat studio theater, and an intimate “cabaret-style space” for musical performances.

In a statement, Gehry made clear that he’ll be designing the project within the larger context of the area around it.

“The expansion of the Colburn School fills an important addition to the long-held dream to create a cultural district in downtown Los Angeles,” said Gehry, who is also working on an enormous development set to bring housing, shops, a hotel, and a movie theater to Grand Avenue.

The project is one of several, including Grand Park and The Broad, proposed as part of a larger plan for Grand Avenue that would transform the street into a hub of art, music, and culture in the heart of Downtown.

“What we all dreamed about twenty years ago is now becoming within reach,” Gehry said.

A map of the Colburn School project site Courtesy the Colburn School

The Colburn School has been at its current location since 1998, when it moved into a facility designed by the now-defunct Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates. In 2007, the school tripled in size with an expansion overseen by Pfeiffer Partners. The school estimates the new addition will add about 200,000 square feet of space to the campus.

Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics and Michael Ferguson of TheatreDNA, both past collaborators on Gehry projects, will work with the architect on the new performance venues.