The Man With the Most Unusual Lines
But all that would come later. In late October 2003, many years late and $164 million over its original $110 million budget, Disney Hall finally opened. Gehry's stunning steel design and open urban gardens were a triumph. But the Concert Hall inside was the true star. With its curved wood ceilings and open interiors, the hall's auditorium is spacious enough for 2,265 seats. Yet the audience surrounds the orchestra in a way that makes the place feel as cozy as a living room. "Frank had a deep impact on the way we use the hall and the way it lives and breathes," says Deborah Borda, president of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association.
Gehry, who had also worked on the famed Hollywood Bowl, worked closely with Borda and the Philharmonic's music director, Esa-Pekka Salonen, throughout the process. "Frank built this hall from the inside out," says Borda. "His design created an environment and an intimacy that makes you actually feel part of the music."
As Gehry, who is far less complex than his famous designs, puts it: "We pulled it off."
For obvious reasons, Gehry doesn't have to look far for work these days. In fact, he never solicits it and only rarely enters into competitions like the one for Disney Hall. Not because he doesn't want to win, but because he can't take losing. "I can't handle the rejection," he says. Even at his level, he is still in some ways that young USC student, afraid that someone will tell him he doesn't have what it takes, and that he needs to get the heck out.