Richard Meier & Partners
The Getty Center
Situated on a spectacular 110-acre hilltop, commanding dramatic views of the Los Angeles Basin and beyond, emerges a complex unlike any of its kind: The Getty Center.
Richard Meier & Partners was selected in 1984 as Architects for this prestigious and unique commision, to provide a complex important to the Getty Trust as well as to the City of Los Angeles. Due for completion in 1997, the Getty Center is comprised of six principal buildings dedicated to uniting the various programs of the J.Paul Getty Trust for the benefit of the general public. The Center will be comprised of: the Getty Museum; the Getty Conservation Institute; the Getty Information Institute; the Getty Education Institute for the Arts; the Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities; the Getty Trust offices; an Auditorium; and Food Services facilities. The Center will provide a central location for the Trust's growing collection and educational programs.
With its golden light and brilliant blue sky, southern California provided the unique opportunity and the freedom to relate interior space to exterior space, to create a relationship between architecture and landscape, and to focus on the concern with building and garden. The Museum as the public destination will respond to this opportunity; it will be a place which is both introverted - in that its spaces are conducive to the contemplation of works of art, and extroverted - in that its organization allows the visitor to experience this unique space.
Upon ascending the steps to the entrance plaza to the Museum, visitors will be presented with an array of choices, either to enter the building, or to explore the gardens. The Museum Lobby is a tall, cylindrical space opening to the Museum Courtyard as well as leading to gallery pavilions. These small pavilions break down the scale of the museum into easily comprehensible clusters, each with its own inner courtyard. The visitor will be taken on a chronological journey of the Getty collections, with paintings occupying the top floor to take advantage of the natural top light. Decorative Arts, manuscripts and works on paper will be housed on ground level galleries, shielded from the sunlight.
On the more private western ridge is located the Getty Research Institute for the History of Arts and the Humanities, comprising the library, reading rooms, study carrels and office space for scholars and staff. Here, the building's curved form evokes the essentially introspective nature of scholarly activity. The form of the building will encourage scholars to explore in the open stacks. The entire building is a sequence of spaces related to one another both horizontally and vertically.
The Conservation Institute, Education Institute for the Arts, and Grant Program Building will have its own precinct of gardens and outdoor terraces in scale with its space. Of all the buildings, it particularly invokes a "California" expression due to its openness and the ease in which one can move from interior to exterior space.
The 450 - seat Auditorium, adjacent to the Information Institute and the Getty Trust offices, will mark the end of the complex's long east elevation.
The materials chosen for the exterior cladding will reinforce the balance envisioned between building and site. Rough cleft travertine has been chosen for the Museum and retaining walls - a stone evoking traditionalism and endurance, offering a connection to the landscape. All of the other buildings more curvelinear in form will be clad in metal panels, complimenting the travertine and the topography of the site.