Gehry is well-known for using warped forms in his architectural designs. In the architect’s original concept, Walt Disney Concert Hall was intended to be wrapped in stone. However, based on the acclaim he received to his titanium museum in Bilbao, Spain he was urged to change the stone to metal. With this new material Gehry was able to tweak the shape of the exterior, creating the iconic curving stainless steel “silver sails” seen today, the first view that most people see as they approach the building. The curves echo the billows in the auditorium and play off the bowed cornice of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (located across the street), forging a link between new and old.
Gehry’s team visualized the lobby as a transparent, light-filled “living room for the city,” opening onto the sidewalk. The Concert Hall was intended to be a center of civic activity, not just a destination for concertgoers. In contrast to the tightly enclosed foyer of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the lobby was designed to have a separate identity and serve as a symbolic bridge between everyday life and the inner sanctum. Large Douglas fir columns were placed at the entrance of the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Atrium Hall at Disney Hall. Resembling tree trunks, the columns represent a dialogue with nature (and, they conceal some of the building’s infrastructure and speaker systems at the same time!).