It would have been the first 'Bilbao' if not for years of delays. But now, finally, Frank Gehry has come home to La-La Land with his suitably fantastical Walt Disney Concert Hall
Frank Gehry's long-awaited sequel to his flamboyant Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is nearing completion in his home city. Due to open this autumn, the £172m Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, California, will be the new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

Gehry won the job in 1988 and the scheme was originally due to be completed in 1997 but has been beset by planning and funding problems. Its thunder was stolen by its baby brother in Bilbao, which did open in 1997.

The concert hall occupies a 1.5 ha site – a whole city block – in LA's historic Bunker Hill area. With its dramatic exterior of stainless steel curves, and the sweeping expanses of glass in the main entrance, the 27,220 m2 building is one of the most technically advanced structures in the world.

The project encompasses two outdoor amphitheatres and a space for pre-concert events. The centrepiece is the 2265-seat main auditorium, designed by Gehry in collaboration with renowned acoustician Nagata Acoustics. It promises to be the most sophisticated concert hall the entertainment world has ever seen.

The groundbreaking shape of the auditorium, with its curved ceiling of Douglas fir and staggered seating, allowed greater flexibility in architectural design. An 11 m high rear window and eight dramatic skylights allow natural light to enhance daytime concerts.

Audience seating surrounds the orchestra platform, creating an intimate experience, and a pipe E E organ occupies a central position between the seating blocks at the rear of the stage. The organ, designed by Gehry in collaboration with Los Angeles organ designer Manuel Rosales, is scheduled to debut a year after the hall opens.

A backstage technical area, which surrounds the hall, provides space for a choral rehearsal hall, a music library, a reading room and storage.

In addition to the main auditorium, the complex features performance and education facilities such as the Roy and Edna Disney/ CalArts Theatre. This is a 250-seat theatre and gallery operated by California Institute of the Arts.

There is also the Los Angeles Philharmonic Centre, designed by Chu + Gooding Architects, located at the south end of the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex. This features office space, board and conference rooms, and a reception area. It was designed by Chu + Gooding Architects. An urban park with public gardens, ornamental landscaping and fountains surrounds the complex.

Some of the funding for the complex came from Los Angeles Philharmonic, which paid for part of the overall project and all of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Centre, as well as from the County of Los Angeles and the State of California – plus a number of corporate, foundation and individual funding partners.

But the bulk of the cash for the hall – more than £63m - came from the Walt Disney family, as a tribute to the all-time greatest fantastist's devotion to the arts.

No wonder Gehry felt he was able to let his imagination run wild.