Friday, June 8, 2007

Tomorrowland Part 2: Modern Architecture

Modern Architecture, the next step to a Tomorrowland based on the Future- not the past! There are some amazing modern structures out there that are awe inspiring. Some spaces almost feel Cathedral-like in their energy. Some make you feel like you're on a movie set because they're not of this world. The average American, or tourist not living in a major city, rarely get to see the type of structures I'm talking about. What better venue than Tomorrowland/Disneyland to change that.

Walt Disney used to hire talented artists like Mary Blair, Eyvind Earle, and even Salvador Dali from outside the studio and bring them in to create new styles and looks for his animated films. Making sure that a house style never got too established and that the look and feel of his films never got stale. This approach seamed to work rather well.

I would prescribe the exact same thing with regard to updating Tomorrowland, but with Architects this time. So here are a few to start with. I'll start with what might be the most recognizable. Frank Gehry, who, ironically, created The Walt Disney Concert Hall:

This building is amazing inside and out. To be technical here I've learned it may be better classified as "Deconstructivist-PostModern," but this isn't an Architecture blog! If anyone is ever in the L.A. area it is a must! I think Disney missed an opportunity when redoing SpaceMountain last year in not renovating the outside of the attraction as well. It would have been a great kick-off to start slowly changing Tomorrowland. And in my opinion it probably would have created much more buzz and attendance had the building had as unique a feel as the exterior of The Disney Concert Hall. And I'm sure Frank Gehry would have been happy to be involved seeing how he has created other structures for the Disney Co. in the past like the Team Disney Building in Anaheim and The Disney Village in Paris.

Next up, Santiago Calatrava. This guy is absolutely amazing! If you could "copy and paste" in the real world I would be tempted to grab all of his work and paste it right into Tomorrowland. But who could imagine what he would come up with if hired to specifically design for Tomorrowland. Here are some examples of his work at the "City of Arts" complex in Valencia, Spain:

This next one looks like it could house Mission:Space in California pretty well?

Let's hire this guy! And for his first project? How about a building for a new StarTours, based on the new films. Let's get ILM and LucasFilm in on it while we're at it. The advancement of 3D animation and ride capabilities since the original StarTours was created is astonishing. Trust me there is potential for a new StarTours ride inside and out that would put Tomorrowland more than just "back on the map!" What a perfect way to update a classic while integrating it into the new Tomorrowland v2.0!

Last but not least, Thomas Heatherwick. This borders more on Urban Design but it's still in the vein of Modern Architecture for our purposes. His work really gives character to functional necessities which would be great for the "ins and outs" of a new Tomorrowland:

One of the only complaints I can think of to updating with Modern Architecture is that it may be too cold. I don't think that's true of any of the examples given above but I agree that sometimes it can feel barren and maybe a little "institutional" if you will. This would definitely have to be guarded against. But I also feel that along with these modern influences that a certain Disney touch and flavor should still be added to make it feel Disney-like. You can see Eyvind Earle's influence in "Sleeping Beauty" but it's still Disney at the same time. With a merge of the Modern and the Disney touch, that only Disney can do, I think there is great possibility!

The only other down side? All of this will eventually get dated as well. But that isn't a bad thing. When these structures are dated I can't imagine what the latest and greatest would look like. And that's part of the spirit to keep moving along. Walt always said the park was a continual work in progress.

So lets wash our hands of the old and move on to the future!


linklewtt said...

I'm not quite sold on this idea. Personally I enjoy the nostalgic side of Tomorrowland. I would like to see a revamped Tomorrowland with a hint of futurism, yet grounded somehow in the past. Think of The Incredibles. I really liked how the setting was a but futuristic yet clearly influenced by the 60s. To a greater extent there's also Meet the Robinsons which also has that 60's feel to it even though it is set so far into the future.

The modern edge seems too strict and city-like, something more suited for Magic Kingdom's larger Tomorrowland. Disneyland's TL should be like the park, quaint yet inviting.

Brian said...

I would like to add Rem Koolhaas to that list: I'm a big fan of his especially since he designed the new library here in Seattle.

visionary? very.

(love the blog!)

Mr. Lincoln said...


Great links! A welcome addition to the list!