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Earlier this month, the Colburn School, a private performing arts school in Downtown Los Angeles, commenced construction work on a 100,000-square-foot expansion project designed by Frank Gehry. Dubbed the Colburn Center, the $335 million facility will rise on a site that was once a surface parking lot located diagonally across the street from the school’s main building, designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, along Grand Avenue.

The Colburn School’s growing campus is part of an expanding cultural corridor within downtown’s Bunker Hill district; neighboring institutions include Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Broad contemporary art museum, which in late March announced a $100 million expansion project helmed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Also in the immediate area is Gehry’s The Grand LA, a mixed-use complex with a project-anchoring residential tower that debuted in 2022.

Per the Colburn School, this corner of the city is home to the largest concentration of Gehry projects in the world—the 95-year-old Pritzker Prize laureate recently spoke to the L.A. Times about his work in the area, which was originally established in the late 19th-century as an upscale residential suburb known for its big views and even bigger Victorian mansions. A period of decline later set in, which led to the sweeping redevelopment of Bunker Hill—the largest such project in L.A. history—in the mid-20th century.

colburn center groundbreaking.

3. L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis presents proclamation to Sel Kardan, President and CEO, and Andrew Millstein, Board Chair, of the Colburn School at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Colburn Center on April 5, 2024. Photo by Loreen Sarkis for Colburn School.

In a statement, Gehry referred to the Colburn Center, which will feature a 1,000-seat concert hall along with myriad student rehearsal and training facilities as well as ample public outdoor space, as being “a much-needed project for the community.” He added that he hopes it will be “well-used and well-loved by the students of the Colburn School and the other cultural institutions of Los Angeles.”

“Our goal for this hall is that it will help strengthen the already robust classical music community here, solidifying Los Angeles’ leadership in this arena,” he said.

colburn center rendering


colburn center renderings


Colburn Center renderings: View from Hill Street and 2nd Street intersection (1); Interior of concert hall named for Terri and Jerry Kohl located on the West end of the project site (2). Images courtesy Frank O. Gehry & Gehry Partners,LLP

Focused on music and dance, the Colburn School was founded in 1950 as a preparatory arm of the USC Thornton School of Music; the school split with USC in 1980 and, in 1998, established its current Bunker Hill campus. The school hosted the 2023 L.A. edition of Record on the Road, an event in which Colburn School president and CEO Sel Kardan introduced the now-underway Gehry-designed expansion, which is set for completion in 2027, to attendees.