Structure Type: built works - performing arts buildings

Designers: Allied Architects Association of Los Angeles (firm); Gehry, Frank O. and Associates, Incorporated (firm); Gruen, Victor, Associates (firm); Hodgetts + Fung Design Associates (firm); Hunt, Myron, Architect (firm); Wright, Lloyd, Architect (firm); Hsin-Ming Fung (architect); Frank Owen Gehry (architect); Victor David Gruen (architect); Craig Hodgetts (architect); Myron Hubbard Hunt (architect); George Maitland Stanley (sculptor); Frank Lloyd Wright Jr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1926-1929

2301 North Highland Avenue
Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA 90068-2742

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Located in Bolton Canyon;


In 1918, a physician, T. Percival Gerson, and a dentist, H. Gale Atwater, conceived the idea of building an open-air performance space in the Hollywood hills. The two men formed what would become called the "Theatre Arts Alliance" on 05/25/1919, a group that rapidly secured financial support from the area's moneyed elite.The alliance, in its first two years, located a natural bowl site on which to build the venue and money with which to build it. For the price of $47,500, the group bought fifty-seven acres of land in Bolton Canyon, a perfect natural bowl for the ampitheatre. Catherine Wetherill Stevenson, whose wealth derived from interests in the Pittsburgh Paint Company (founded in 1883), and a friend, Marie Rankin Clarke (1868-1948), whose wealth came from real estate and AZ mining interests, provided 88% of the purchase price. She and Clarke later broke with the Theatre Arts Alliance in 1920, and the Hollywood Bowl committee renamed itself, the "Community Park and Art Association." The assocation purchased the two women's shares, and Stevenson took her money across the street, where she opened her own open-air theatre, designed by the Berkeley architect Bernard Maybeck (1862-1957). The Hollywood Bowl became analagous to other Greek theatres being built around the state, the best known of which was Berkeley's Greek Theatre (1903); it lacked the overly classical trappings, but its intent was the same: to take advantage of CA's gentle climate and create an outdoor performance space that could host a range of enriching cultural presentations, from symphonic music, to plays, to popular concerts. It provided a pleasant summertime location, away from the central business district's Broadway theatre district. that could reinforce cultural standards while showcasing the state's remarkable, temperate climate. Abundant postcards of the Hollywood Bowl marketed Southern CA's increasing cultural sophistication and enviable natural conditions to those in the less temperate East.

Building History

The first concert on the Bolton Canyon site (performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic) was held 07/11/1922; four band shells existed between 1926-1929; In 1926, Allied Architects of Los Angeles designed the first proscenium, while the ampitheatre itself was arranged by Myron Hunt, the Pasadena architect; Lloyd Wright provided two band shell designs for the 1927 and 1928 Los Angeles Philharmonic seasons; from one of Wright's designs, a fourth shell of 1929 (also by the Allied Architects of Los Angeles) was patterned. This shell did not operate acoustically as well as previous designs by Lloyd Wright, a repeated attempts to fine tune it were made during the 1929-1970 period. Frank Gehry added acoustical elements to the bowl ceiling between 1970 and 1982. On 09/12/2000, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to demolish the 1929 music shell, and replace it with an new, more acoustically viable structure; in 2003-2004, Hodgetts + Fung created a 50-acre master plan for the Hollywood Bowl and consulted on physical upgrades of the bowl structure;acoustical refinement work continued in 2004, with the completion of a new shell designed by Hodgetts + Fung Architects and Gruen Associates; Hodgetts + Fung worked with Jaffe Holden Acoustics and theater consultant Fisher Dachs Associates;

Building Notes

For most of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, the Hollywood Bowl was one of the largest ampitheatres in the world, seating 18,000 in 2004. Sculptor George Maitland Stanley (1903-1970), created the granite fountain with its three figures representing Dance, Music and Drama at the gates of the Hollywood Bowl in 1938-1940. This fountain was renovated by Los Angeles County Arts Commission in 2006. (See "Hollywood Bowl,"Accessed 12/03/2010.)


Alterations to the Hollywood Bowl have been made periodically since the first band shell was built in 1922.

PCAD id: 2558

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