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Beckmen YOLA Center

Breaking the Box

Gehry Partners

Beckmen YOLA Center
By Raymund Ryan -

Inglewood is under the flight path for Los Angeles International Airport.
It is an independent city in the great sprawl of Los Angeles County. There is a traditional urban core of shopfronts, sidewalks and streets where little has changed except for a set of autonomous concrete buildings from the 1970s. It is here, on the edge of the impressive if austere Inglewood Civic Center, that America’s most influential living architect makes his latest contribution to the urban and cultural fabric of his adopted hometown. You may not immediately register the hand of Frank Gehry and his practice, Gehry Partners. Nevertheless, this facility for classical music builds upon many of his preoccupations.

Gehry started his long career with several understated structures distinct in tone and in budget from the more recent scenographic buildings that have brought him worldwide fame. Some, like the Danziger Studio of 1965, continued the modest form-making of Angeleno precursors such as Rudolph Schindler; others, like the Temporary Contemporary art space in downtown Los Angeles (1983), reveal Gehry working inventively with existing building stock. There is typically a psychological aspect to these low-budget interventions (Doors of Perception, to borrow a title from longtime L.A. resident, Aldous Huxley) as well as some feeling that each project plays its role to enrich and reinforce urban life.

YOLA stands for Youth Orchestra Los Angeles. It is a far-reaching initiative by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and its charismatic leader, Gustavo Dudamel, to bring music (instruments, classes, mentoring, performance opportunities) to children and teenagers. The Inglewood project is the first to have a signature architect attached, albeit one with a deep personal attachment to music in general and the Phil in particular. As well as his New World Center in Miami Beach (2011) and Pierre Boulez Saal concert hall in Berlin (2017), Gehry is of course the...

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