Responses by Bruno Arizio, design director; Matthijs Horsman, general manager; and Aaron Howell, digital producer, Resn.
Background: “In 2017, Getty acquired Frank Gehry Papers: a vast treasure trove of materials that included drawings, physical models, photographs and video content, chronologically framed between 1954 and 1988,” says Matthijs Horsman. “Getty committed to the gargantuan task of preserving and digitizing the hundreds of thousands of items in the collection. Additionally, it wanted to find ways to share and celebrate the archive’s spirit with the general public. To achieve this, Getty approached us to collaborate on an interactive exhibition dedicated to one of Gehry’s most celebrated buildings, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The digital exhibition catered to two target audiences: a lay audience who may be unfamiliar with the subject matter, and a scholarly audience with an academic interest in the history and design of the building.”
Larger picture: “Sculpting Harmony was released in tandem with Modeling Sound, a physical exhibition featuring six of Gehry’s architectural models produced for the design of the Walt Disney Concert Hall,” says Horsman. “The two exhibitions were complementary: Sculpting Harmony catered to a global online audience, while Modeling Sound provided a tactile in-person experience.”
Design core: “The team at Getty wanted to reconstruct the evolution of the concert hall using digital storytelling techniques and multimedia elements,” says Bruno Arizio. “They’d studied these materials for years, imaging and 3-D-modeling the physical archive in different ways and interviewing Gehry about how these pieces fit together. Those archival materials, interviews and interactive 3-D models all became the base of this narrative. Together, we combined all these elements to craft a meaningful exploration of the architect’s vision and creative process. In the art direction, we aimed to capture Gehry’s trademark style by incorporating his freeform sketches into the design. Using dynamic typography, we evoked the unique shapes of the concert hall, the sounds of the orchestra and Gehry’s playful personality. The soundtrack, recorded by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in situ at the concert hall, imbues the experience with life.”
Challenges: “Reviewing the enormous quantity of wonderful content that makes up the Frank Gehry Papers,” says Aaron Howell. “We worked side by side with the Getty Research Institute (GRI) to distill and transform this content into an interactive experience that champions both scholarly depth and the human aspect of Gehry’s architectural process.”
Time constraints: “The biggest time constraint with Sculpting Harmony came from the contrast between the slower pace of the museum world of the GRI and the faster pace of our interactive development,” says Howell. “We were very lucky that Getty’s digital team helped bridge that gap to maintain important milestones.”
Navigation structure: “Essentially, the site functions as an interactive documentary,” says Arizio. “To get the most out of this medium, we wanted to give the audience a framework for exploring without putting them on rails. We landed on a semi-linear structure that provides a solid foundation to tell the story of the concert hall from concept to completion while allowing for some freedom of exploration by providing opportunities to dive deeper into content at appropriate moments.”