Colburn School to break ground on Frank Gehry-designed campus expansion

The Colburn School, an internationally acclaimed institute for music and dance education and performance, today announced plans to break ground on a transformational 100,000-square-foot expansion designed by Frank Gehry, one of the world’s most distinguished architects.

The new building, known as the Colburn Center, will be located adjacent to Colburn’s Grand Avenue campus in Downtown Los Angeles, and will dramatically increase the school’s world-class training and performance facilities for music and dance. It will also provide much-needed performance space in a mid-sized hall for the region’s established and emerging performing arts organizations.

Image © Frank Gehry

Site work is scheduled to begin in the coming weeks and a groundbreaking ceremony will take place on April 5, 2024. The Colburn Center is expected to reach substantial completion in Q1 of 2027. The expansion will create the largest concentration of Gehry-designed buildings in the world.

ùIt will be located next to two other buildings by the renowned architect: Walt Disney Concert Hall, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2023, and The Grand by Gehry, a $1 billion mixed-use retail and residential development that opened in 2022. The expansion will include a 1,000-seat concert hall named for Terri and Jerry Kohl, which features an in-the-round design to create intimacy between the performers and the audience.

Image © Frank Gehry

The hall includes an orchestra pit and a stage large enough to accommodate the grandest works, making it suitable for orchestra, opera, and dance. With this addition, Downtown LA will now have a mid-sized concert hall for the first time. The Colburn Center will also more than double the facilities for the School’s Trudl Zipper Dance Institute, creating one of the most comprehensive dance education complexes in Southern California.

The dance facilities include a 100-seat theater for dance and four professional-sized studios for dance instruction and rehearsal. The Colburn Center will also add a rooftop garden that will be large enough to host receptions and outdoor performances, as well as a ground-level garden with a dedicated performance space that will be open to the public.

Image © Frank Gehry

A pioneer in the cultural development of Downtown LA, The Colburn School has been an anchor of the Grand Avenue Arts corridor since 1998, when the school opened its Grand Avenue building. Since then, the school has been joined by the neighboring Walt Disney Concert Hall and The Broad, and expanded its campus with a building on the neighboring Olive Street in 2007.

Today, Colburn hosts over 500 performances by students, faculty, visiting artists, and guest presenters annually on campus, and that number will grow dramatically with the opening of the Colburn Center. The expansion comes at a critical time for Downtown Los Angeles, which, like many downtowns across the country, is reimagining and redefining its future with the rise in remote work and other lifestyle changes.

Image © Frank Gehry

Recently, educational institutions have been making significant investments in Downtown Los Angeles. UCLA announced in June 2023 that it acquired the historic Trust Building renamed UCLA Downtown to widen access through satellite classes.

Arizona State University recently finished its renovations of the Herald Examiner Building to accommodate additional academic and public programs, including classes in film, journalism, and global management.

Image © Frank Gehry

Several years ago, USC expanded its footprint in Downtown Los Angeles when it began leasing the former AT&T Center now called the USC Tower for several of its schools, as well as its classical radio station KUSC. This project has been made possible through the early generosity of remarkable philanthropists from Los Angeles and around the world.

Gifts made to date total $315 million towards the Colburn School’s $400 million Building Our Future campaign. The campaign will cover an estimated $335 million in construction costs as well as $65 million in endowment and operating costs to support the activities of the Colburn Center and the Colburn School.

Image © Frank Gehry

The Building Our Future campaign includes funds to underwrite access to the Colburn Center for Los Angeles-based performing arts organizations, artists, and ensembles. Seeded by an initial $5 million gift from Terri and Jerry Kohl, this endowment fund will help support access for multiple, diverse groups to perform in this beautiful performance space.

Inspired by Colburn’s “Access to Excellence” philosophy, the Colburn Center will present the highest quality professional programming at accessible prices for performers and audience members to ensure that the entire community is able to experience the performing arts. Source and images Courtesy of Frank Gehry.

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