Carolyn Adventure Tours
offering bespoke adventures in the greater San Diego area and beyond
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DTLA Art and Architecture Adventure (part 2)

A grand adventure on Grand Avenue or part 2 of the most recent trip to Downtown LA (DTLA). My apologies for the delay, but there were several trips right after! If you haven't read part 1, you can catch up here 

To recap, we:

  • Caught the Surfliner from San Diego to Los Angeles
  • Took in the view from the tallest building west of Chicago
  • Took flight on the funicular
  • Lunched and people watched at Otium
  • Appreciated the art and architecture at The Broad


Music Center (Welton Beckett and Associates, 1964-1967)

The Music Center's original buildings were constructed between 1964 and 1967. Frank Gehry's iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall, which was added to the Music Center years later in 2003, sits outside the 1960s complex.

The first building constructed in 1964 was the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, a massive structure dominating the complex. it housed the Academy Awards for a number of years.

The Ahmanson Theatre and Mark Taper Forum were both constructed in 1967. The Mark Taper Forum is a circular building rising from a pool of water in front of the Ahmanson. The walls of the Forum are covered with an abstract relief design. The large "Peace on Earth" sculpture by Jacques Lipschitz was added in 1969.

The plaza provides the perfect vantage point for viewing not just the Modern buildings of the Music Center, but the Los Angeles Civic Center, City Hall, and the new Grand Park. The bronze sculpture below is Dance Door by Robert Graham.  It was installed in 1982.

Department of Water and Power (A.C. Martin and Associates, 1965)

A building that has always intrigued me is the Department of Water and Power (DWP) designed by Albert C. Martin and Associates and completed in 1965.  I first glimpsed it from the public garden at the Walt Disney Center.  This trip was the first time I actually crossed the street and viewed the building up close.

The DWP, an International-style building rises from the center of an enormous reflecting pool. My client and I walked the perimeter of the building, taking in views of the Music Center across the way. The building is striking for its vertical steel columns and horizontal concrete floor slabs cantilevered twelve feet beyond the building which shade the office windows.

Disney Concert Hall (Frank Gehry, 2003)

The view of Walt Disney Concert Hall that most people see is the curving stainless steel skin of the exterior which resemble silver sails. And an amazing view it is!

But past the billowing sails up a flight of stairs is a public park. Frank Gehry designed the fountain named “A Rose for Lilly” for Walt Disney's wife Lillian, who provided the initial donation for the concert hall. The fountain is constructed from broken pieces of Delft China, Lillian’s favorite. I always love to bring visitors to the hidden oasis.

Much More to See

For a day trip, we covered a lot ground. Had we been a little more ambitious, we could have continued along Grand to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels. But we'll save that and other works of architecture for another time. So many buildings, so little time :)