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Frank Gehry to Design the New Colburn Center

Rendering for Colburn Center at the Colburn School. Courtesy Gehry Partners.

The Colburn School for music and dance, has unveiled architectural designs by Frank Gehry for the Colburn Center, a 100,000 square-foot campus expansion in downtown Los Angeles to inspire and serve the region’s young performing artists and performing arts organizations and ensembles. The center 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.

“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. “The Colburn Center is a physical manifestation of the School’s founding principle of ‘access to excellence,’ allowing Colburn to continue and expand our educational and performance activities in a design which breaks down barriers between audience and performer and reveals the educational process. 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.”

Conceived as a major contribution to the cultural and civic life of Downtown LA, the Colburn Center will make the Colburn campus an even livelier hub of artistic activity and enable the School to expand its mission of presenting programs for the public, which include performance and educational collaborations with acclaimed local and touring artists and ensembles. It will also provide much needed performance space in a mid-sized hall for the region’s established and emerging performing arts organizations.

Gehry’s design will welcome students and audiences alike, with a dynamic composition of transparent and opaque interlocking blocks that step down into the natural contour of the site. A 1,000-seat concert hall uses an in-the-round design to create intimacy between the performers and the audience and removes the stage lip, putting front-row seats at eye-level with the performers. Orchestra, opera, dance, and musical theater will all be at home in the hall, which is equipped with an orchestra pit and a stage large enough to accommodate the grandest works and the largest orchestrations.

Four professional-sized dance studios and a 100-seat flexible studio theater are enveloped in glass and provide a literal window into the beauty and rigor of dance training and performance.

The new complex, which is expected to break ground in 2023 and to host its first performances in the fall of 2025, will add to the already dynamic activity at Colburn. The Colburn Center will complete the largest concentration of Gehry designed buildings anywhere in the world, joining the soon-to-open mixed-use project, The Grand, and the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall.

The estimated $350 million campaign for the building has raised $270 million to date.

Frank Gehry said, “The Colburn School is an incredibly important asset to the cultural district of Downtown Los Angeles. 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.”

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