New LA Subway Could Spell Acoustical Doom for Gehry's Disney Hall

New LA Subway Could Spell Acoustical Doom for Gehry's Disney Hall

Architect Frank Gehry has voiced concerns that the new Los Angeles subway, scheduled for construction in two to three years, may disturb concerts in his famous Disney Hall. The planned subway line would run 125 feet below the venue's parking garage and recent simulations have shown that the rumblings could be audible inside the concert hall. Mr. Gehry has called for the review of previous noise projections for the metro project, which two years ago predicted no audible impact on his design. “It would be a disaster for Disney Hall,” Gehry told the LA Times. “The flag is up and we should go over it and make sure.”

Read more after the break.

The acoustic experiment was conducted April 23rd by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Thayer Hall, a below-ground performance and recording space at the Colburn School. This small venue, near 2nd Street and Grand Avenue, is closer than Disney Hall to the $1.37-billion subway's route, which will include a stretch beneath 2nd Street from Hope Street to Central Avenue.

Fred Vogler, a recording engineer who oversees recording sessions and concert-taping for the Colburn School and the L.A. Philharmonic said that "they played a solo piano piece through a loudspeaker and had subwoofers that simulated a passing train. The test was several minutes long. Then they said, 'Is anybody troubled by the train sounds?' We said, 'Well, we heard them, if that's what you're asking.' It set off a lot of concerns."

Gehry heard about the test's results from Vogler and communicated his concerns to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors member Zev Yaroslavsky as well as others, calling for a reevaluation of previous noise projections for Disney Hall.

Metro's Chief Executive Art Leahy explained that the simulation did not represent actual predicted sonic impact of the trains; instead, it was just a part of determining how precise noise abatement devices along the metro tracks must be to create no additional noise in performance spaces near the subway line. Metro has even hired an acoustic expert in addition to noise abatement consultants to help with the process.

"We are not about to do anything which in any fashion, however slightly, impairs or damages … Disney Hall or any other feature in that area," Leahy said. "They are critically important, and we are simply not going to build something that reduces the utility or benefit of those facilities. That's a blanket statement, no conditions or qualifiers on it."

A meeting will be arranged that includes all cultural organizations adjacent to the subway line interested in receiving an update from Metro officials. Disney Hall's original acoustical designer, Yasuhisa Toyota, and its original noise abatement engineer, Charles M. Salter Associates, will go over the numbers again as soon as they are released to make sure that the ambient noise level - the sound when nothing is happening - inside the hall does not exceed 25 decibels. If not, Yaroslavsky says that "Metro is going to have to adjust accordingly."

Reference: BDOnline, LA Times

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Cite: Barbara Porada. "New LA Subway Could Spell Acoustical Doom for Gehry's Disney Hall" 29 May 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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