Frank Gehry’s New World Center (NWC) in Miami’s South Beach, and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles [RECORD, November 2003, page 134], are at once similar yet quite different. While the sculptural stainless steel Disney Hall remains a landmark of the 21st century, nearly every guiding principle of that hall is overturned in the more reserved, white-stuccoed concrete New World Center in Miami. Yet both the Los Angeles and the Miami Beach performing arts spaces feature single halls with no proscenium.
In contrast to the painful birth of Disney Hall, the Miami project offered Gehry the opportunity to work with a lifelong friend, the esteemed conductor and composer Michael Tilson Thomas. A big difference between the two designs was Gehry’s creation in Los Angeles of “a nice room in which nothing changes,” as he says, and, conversely, his willingness for the Miami Beach auditorium to accommodate a dazzling array of transformations.