Frank Gehry unveils designs for L.A. Phil’s youth concert hall in Inglewood

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The Los Angeles Philharmonic and Frank Gehry on Wednesday unveiled designs for its YOLA Center, a former bank building that the architect will remake into a 25,000-square-foot youth orchestra hall and performance space in Inglewood.

The $14.5-million Judith and Thomas L. Beckmen YOLA Center @ Inglewood will be a glass-fronted box with a transparent roof pop-up allowing sunlight to stream into the 260-seat concert hall below. The building, the former Security Pacific Bank at 101 S. La Brea Ave., also will include a choir room, an ensemble room and a practice studio, with all the spaces totaling about 25,000 square feet. Groundbreaking is expected to begin in spring; no target opening date has been announced.

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Gustavo Dudamel, the L.A. Phil’s artistic and music director, established Youth Orchestra Los Angeles in 2007 to provide free instruments, music training, performance opportunities and academic support to children from neighborhoods in central, southern and eastern portions of Los Angeles. YOLA serves about 1,200 young musicians, and with the new YOLA Center, the L.A. Phil hopes to double that number.

Dudamel, who was raised in Venezuela’s El Sistema music education program, said YOLA is particularly close to his heart.

“I joined El Sistema and learned firsthand that music has the power to change people’s lives,” Dudamel said in the announcement Wednesday. “Now the L.A. Phil is doing just that through YOLA. We know that our engagement with young people in our classes in the Rampart District or East L.A. is every bit as important as our involvement with the audiences in Walt Disney Concert Hall. In fact, one side of what we do is incomplete without the other.”


Dudamel worked closely with Gehry and members of his Gehry Partners team in designing the YOLA Center, which, like Gehry’s Disney Hall in downtown L.A., will have an acoustic envelope designed by Yasuhisa Toyota. Gehry called his involvement in the YOLA project “a privilege.”

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“We hope that the building will become a center for the community to gather to hear performances of all types,” Gehry said. “I designed the center to be a world-class instrument for the community, and I can’t wait to see how they use it.”

Because YOLA is largely an after-school program, the venue will be available for community uses at other times, the L.A. Phil said. The center is named after longtime L.A. Phil supporter Judith Beckmen and her husband, Thomas, an L.A. Phil board member and founder of Roland Corp.

Look for Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed’s commentary on the YOLA Center later today.


Twitter: @debvankin