Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Getty Center

IMG_6919 Getty Center stairs

Perched on the crest of a hill in the Santa Monica Mountains of Southern California is the Getty Center. The tram whisked my son and me from the street-level parking lot to the hilltop plaza. Our eyes were immediately drawn to the travertine staircase leading to a white undulating building. It was a blistering hot October day in Los Angeles. My son wished he packed a pair of sunglasses because the reflection cast off the bright surfaces of the buildings and plaza was blinding.

IMG_7020 Getty Center tram


We chose to climb the stairs on the left side, where waterfall steps...

IMG_6927 getty center stairs

...emitted soothing sounds as sheets of water poured down each step...


… creating a visually cooling effect.

IMG_6930 Getty Center stairs

A lead sculpture called “Air” is precariously balanced midway up the steps.

"Air"
Aristide Maillol (French 1861-1944)
Designed 1938, cast 1962
I spoke about the lack of warning notices in my post about the Oslo Opera House, because here in California even sculptures get a warning tag.
***

Architect Richard Meier used 16,000 tons of beige Italian travertine stone to cover 1.2 million square feet of surface area …

 IMG_7018 Getty Center lawn

IMG_7021 Getty Center wall


IMG_6938 Getty Center plaza


… 40,000 panels of off-white enamel-clad aluminum …




… and vast quantities of glass. The view out of each window and door  is picture perfect:












Water is another important and dynamic surface area in Meier’s design.

IMG_6987 Getty Center fountain

IMG_6937 Getty Center fountain

Meier allowed the qualities of the site to inform his design. He accentuated the steep terrain…



...defined the space of the campus on the naturally-occurring ridges of the hillside...

Cactus Garden

... used native drought-resistant plantings ...




...and took advantage of the panoramic views of downtown Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean.


IMG_6954 Getty Center North Pavilion window view
The hour and a half we spent at the Getty Center was a great diversion from four days of non-stop college campus tours.



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