Frank Gehry Tapped to Design Colburn School Expansion

LOS ANGELES — World-renowned architect Frank Gehry was chosen to design a campus expansion for the Colburn School, a performing arts academy in downtown Los Angeles.

The new building will be constructed adjacent to the school’s existing campus and will add approximately 200,000 square feet to the campus footprint. Gehry will design three performance venues as well as an outdoor performance area, classrooms, a dance rehearsal center, and student and guest-artist housing. The expansion will also see an 1,100-seat concert hall and a 700-seat flexible studio theater for dance and vocal performances. An additional 100-seat cabaret-style space will likewise provide a space for students to strut their stuff in a more intimate setting.

Collaborating with Gehry, who is the principal and founder of Los Angeles-based Gehry Partners, is Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics (acoustician for projects, including Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany) and Michael Ferguson, principal of TheatreDNA.

The current Colburn School facilities date back 20 years to when the school relocated to its 102,000-square-foot home in downtown Los Angeles. That structure was designed by the former Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates. Then in 2007, the renamed firm of Pfeiffer Partners Architects designed the Colburn School’s adjoining 326,000-square-foot expansion.

“We are excited to announce a multidimensional project that not only will serve future generations of Colburn students, but also will create a crossroads for the performing arts in L.A. for musicians and dancers, both established and aspiring,” said Sel Kardan, president and CEO of the Colburn School, in a statement. “In selecting Frank Gehry for this ambitious project, we have chosen an architect with an extraordinary track record of designing educational and performance spaces, an unshakeable sense of public purpose, deep roots in Los Angeles, and a commitment to the young people of this region and young artists around the world.”

Gehry concurred with Kardan’s sentiments regarding the project. “The expansion of the Colburn School fills an important addition to the long-held dream to create a cultural district in downtown Los Angeles. The school is already an incredible asset and major player, and the expansion is a great opportunity to add breadth to this dream,” said Gehry in a statement.

The expansion of the Colburn School marks Gehry’s third building project in the area — among them the iconic (and sometimes controversial) Walt Disney Concert Hall.