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Walt Disney Concert Hall

Bruce Mau Design developed an original visual signature and environmental graphics for Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall (WDCH), the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, which opened in 2003.

The WDCH runs an entire city block - our challenge was to create a signature identity that would resonate with Gehry’s iconoclast building design without mimicking it. All signage had to be scalable in tone, equally at home with Philharmonic formal and downtown funky. BMD tested over 5,000 existing typographic variants using an animation technique appropriate to the Disney roots of the building.

By animating fonts and exploring the in-between frames as one font transformed into another, we invented a dynamic and flexible new font which we dubbed “A Font Called Frank.” After testing it by creating posters for everything from a John Cage concert to a Wagner opera, we applied our invention to the building. We integrated the typography by embedding the information alive in the material itself, creating perforations in the metal to allow light to emanate from within. The full system included wayfinding, signage and donor recognition. Today, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is one of L.A.’s most recognizable landmarks.