After many delays and approaching a year-end deadline, ground was finally broken downtown yesterday on the innovative Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by acclaimed architect Frank Gehry.

The $ 182 million project, set to open in the fall of 1997, is being funded mostly by donations from the family of the late Walt Disney.

The family’s contribution, $ 93.6 million, is the largest American donation ever to the arts, project organizers said.

The 2,380-seat hall will be erected across the street from the Los Angeles Music Center. It will become the new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which now resides in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center.

“We feel this is a very important contribution to the rebuilding of Los Angeles,” said Fred Nicholas, chairman of the Concert Hall committee.

Diane Disney Miller said: “My father would love this hall as it reflects his innovative and artistic nature.”

Gehry’s design has been described by admirers as resembling a sailboat on high seas.

In addition to the main concert hall, plans call for a 600-seat auditorium, three small amphitheaters and a chorus rehearsal room that can be used as a 200 -seat theater.

Construction is set to begin in January 1995.

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