Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Under the Umbrella

The Umbrella 58, 2011

I think most people might agree that the most unusual and unexpected building at Conjunctive Points is the building known as the Umbrella.

Back when the Frank Gehry-designed Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles didn’t look like it would ever be built, the developers and architect of Conjunctive Points hoped that the Umbrella would become the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s “Green Umbrella” experimental music series. This would have fulfilled their goal of making Conjunctive Points not only a viable commercial space, but also a cultural arts destination.

The Umbrella’s a complex place, design-wise. Only someone with a highly sophisticated three-dimensional design sense could have conceived of it, given how it looks like it was designed with a zero gravity environment in mind. The interior was designed to be an almost completely open space in which a variety of moveable stages and seating areas could be custom arranged depending on the program and audience size.

The Umbrella 67, 2011

The real treat, however, was the exterior performance space, the part shown in the picture above. It looks like a giant fly or grasshopper embedded into a corner of the building. The concept was for the audience to be seated on a series of flexible platforms below and on the lawn while the part that looks like the big fly hanging off the edge of the building is actually a balcony/stage designed to hold the performers and protect them from the elements. The balcony’s canopy consists of a series of undulating laminated glass panels that look like they were shaped by a volcano or worn by the sea like pieces of seashell.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending in your perspective, Disney Hall was eventually built and the Green Umbrella series is housed there. The exterior balcony stage of the Umbrella building has been used as a performance space for charitable events, but has no resident company. The interior was completely reconfigured to accommodate the needs of Fourth Wall Studios, a firm that creates massive multi-player online games.

The Umbrella 63, 2011

The Umbrella 64, 2011


  1. I'll bet this was a challenge from an engineering standpoint. Truly amazing!

  2. Wow--this is fabulous. I'm wishing I could see some of these. Thanks for introducing me to them! Great photos!