Side by side, Frank Gehry's Grand LA (left) and Walt Disney Concert Hall (right) — Photo courtesy of The Grand LA / Conrad Hotel, Los Angeles
Architect Frank Gehry adds more iconic buildings to his famed architectural portfolio with the Grand LA complex in downtown Los Angeles. The hotel and residential components of the $1 billion mixed-use project opened last summer, while the central dining and shopping areas are slated to open later this year.
Who was voted the best?: Best Art Museum (10Best Readers' Choice Awards 2023)
A hometown icon, the nonagenarian (Gehry was born in 1929) immigrated to Los Angeles as a teenager in 1947. He studied architecture at the University of Southern California and city planning at Harvard University before opening his own practice in Los Angeles in 1962. Gehry quickly rose to worldwide acclaim, and he shows no signs of stopping.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Grand LA, which marked the completion of the Conrad hotel and The Grand by Gehry residential tower, Gehry expressed his relief at seeing the project to completion.
"It's been a long journey, and I am delighted with the result," he said. "I am enormously proud of the project."
Located across the street from Gehry's world-renowned Walt Disney Concert Hall on Grand Street, the Grand LA was once a block-wide parking lot. Now it's a worthy companion to one of Gehry's crowning achievements. Proof, yet again, that he is one of the world's greatest modern architects.
Gehry's influence in Los Angeles and worldwide
San Laurel restaurant, overlooking Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall — Photo courtesy of Conrad Hotel, Los Angeles
Design aficionados have long loved Gehry's unique vision. His works are considered sculptures as much as they are buildings. Coming across one of Gehry's creations is a moment to remember. The architect-artist's vision is one of deconstructionism, an ultra-modern way of envisioning the world, influenced by the Cubist art movement of the early 20th century.
Ever since Gehry began renovating his Santa Monica, Calif., home in the late 1970s, he's been making waves in Los Angeles. His Binoculars Building in Santa Monica, the Aerospace Museum of California and the Norton House in Venice all helped cement his reputation as a visionary architect who creates structures that challenge convention.
Beyond his California hometown, Gehry has put his stamp on fascinating places around the world. His Dancing House in Prague, the Neuer Zollhof in Düsseldorf, the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle and the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris keep fans guessing as to what he will come up with next.
The pool at the Conrad — Photo courtesy of Conrad Hotel, Los Angeles
The Grand by Gehry and The Conrad
For the Grand LA, Gehry set out to create a slightly off-kilter, eminently comfortable series of buildings, outdoor spaces, shops and restaurants that sing in harmony with his Disney Concert Hall next-door. The Grand by Gehry residence is a 45-story tower with 436 rental apartments, while the Conrad rises 28 stories and boasts 305 hotel rooms in an ideal spot for visitors to downtown LA.
Both structures have views of the surrounding city, including easily walkable landmarks, like The Broad contemporary art museum, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and City Hall. Inside the soon-to-be-open shopping and dining areas are public gardens, sculptures and the much-anticipated Chef José Andrés' Bazaar Meat restaurant, also slated to open later this year.
The Beaudry Room at the Conrad — Photo courtesy of Conrad Hotel, Los Angeles
Interior architecture studio Tara Bernerd and Partners was engaged to dream up and execute The Conrad's interior spaces. The hotel showcases works by LA-based artists, such as the massive yellow tapestry by Mimi Jung at the reception center and the textural ceramic stoneware wall by Ben Medansky near the elevator banks. These statement pieces call attention to themselves, while the interior furnishings are a bit more subtle. Spaces are dotted with inviting furniture and sitting areas, many of which boast amazing views of Gehry's concert hall.
Agua Viva at the Conrad Los Angeles — Photo courtesy of Conrad Hotel, Los Angeles
Thoughtful design is seen throughout the hotel, including in the two José Andrés restaurants that are open for business: the outdoor Aqua Viva, with its seafood-focused menu and beautiful city and mountain views, and San Laurel, an indoor-outdoor Spanish tapas eatery that overlooks the concert hall. Even the welcoming spa reflects the overall design of the hotel, with every element throughout seemingly in harmony with the whole.
It's quite a change from the rundown parking structure that spanned this downtown block for decades, a brilliant upgrade that both visitors to Los Angeles and hard-to-impress locals have found much to love.
Happily, there's even more to come as the rest of The Grand LA is completed later this year.
Who was voted the best?: Best Pop Culture Museum (10Best Readers' Choice Awards 2023)