The Getty Center is a complex similar to a campus, located in Los Angeles. The $360 million centre was designed by Richard Meier and partners, between the period 1984 and 1997. The centre comprises six buildings which cover an area of about one million square feet, located in the middle of about 25 acres of gardens and terraces.
The centre has assumed its place as an international Mecca in L.A. the centre attracts very many tourists mainly due to the museum galleries, with a vast collection of ornamental arts, mimic paintings, modern photography and European furniture and drawings (Filler 1).
There are five two-storey pavilions that are open to the public, with a display of paintings and other works in the natural light, a feature made possible by the system of programmable window louvers (Filler 1). There has been a recent addition to the centre, known as Fran and Ray Stark Sculpture Collection, which contains modern sculptures from some of the best sculptors of the twentieth century, which were donated to the museum (Filler 1).
How does the architecture exemplify its major characteristics?
The later projects of Richard Meier have indicated tremendous improvements to his architectural work, though his designs of buildings have remained unaltered, bearing the same design philosophy, thereby ignoring the style of modern architectural works. His style uses glass and enamelled panels to design white Neo-Corbusian forms, which is used on a variety of designs though keeping his theme constant (Meier, Rountree and Lacy 57).
The works of Richard Meier are based on neo-modern beliefs in purist architecture, whereby his most valued concepts are place, color and light. Richard’s work as an architect is based on placeless, whereby his architecture tends to create clear and comprehensible spaces based his use of light and shade, definition of spaces and plain geometry. Richard believes that a place is nonexistent unless one or more of ten factors linking a building to its niche is present.
These ten factors include: the factors asserting the uniqueness of an individual; those that allow spontaneous exchanges; those that connect a building to its history; substances which connect an individual to veracity; features that maintain a sense of obscurity and exploration; those which facilitate blissful liveliness; those that motivate desire and fun and those that emphasize the existence of the building in its environment (Meier, Rountree and Lacy 65).
The other factors are: those which display a building as a free entity; those which lead to the mode of being (Meier, Rountree and Lacy 65). One of the famous declarations of Richard involving space is: “Places are goals or foci where we experience the meaningful events of our existence, but there are also points of departure from which we orient ourselves and take possession of the environment.” “A place is something that evokes a notion of permanence and stability in us” (Meier, Rountree and Lacy 67).
The interior of the buildings appears to be changing continuously due to natural light acting n the white walls. The spaces among the building were also distinct which made the scenery to be eye catching.
Richard’s choice of white colour and the light scheme was aimed at appreciating the effect created by the space, in that the combination of light and color draw out the spiritual and emotional effects, in addition to the beauty and functionality brought about by the physical attributes. Richard’s style therefore brought out the informative meaning by the interaction of the building and the environment to bring out the functionality of the building (Williams 113).
Review of Meier’s architecture on the Getty Center
A review of the work done by Richard in his design of the Getty centre begins with the plan, which entails the network and paths necessary for the creation of the entire centre. The first step involved the establishment of overlapping grids to serve the orientation (Williams 95). One of the views displayed the city’s grid while the other showed the diagonal turn to the north. The next step involved the creation of functional linkage across the site.
The project had many underground interconnecting passageways similar to the Imperial Fora (Williams 95). Harmonious internal links were achieved by altering the correspondence of the underground elements and paths necessary to provide the building with light and air (Williams 96).
Besides getting the appropriate underground grids, Richard also had to obtain the right forms of the individual buildings, which would express their institutional identity, based on his modernist concept (Williams 102). For the auditorium, the design included an Aalto-Esque Arching, a minihouse slab for the North building and Wrightian planes for the east building. He also came up with unique design concepts for the museum, research institute as well as the cafe and restaurant.
Meier was able to provide the Getty centre complex with an urbane image, which is a design concept that he borrowed from the archetypal monuments such as the Mediterranean hill town and the Athenian acropolis designed by the classical modernists, Le Corbusier and Kahn. He used the roman and renaissance precedents to design the urbane design (Williams 102).
Meier’s work exhibited the succession of spaces, use of thick walls and the notion of organization similar to that of Caprarola and Hadrian’s Villa by the roman, to come up with designs that could be related to human experiences and reflected an aesthetic consideration of space and form (Williams 96).
The true appreciation of the centre was the variety of architectural expressions within the closely constructed site, including the centralization of the administrative structure and the incorporation of the deeper historical resonances (Williams 96).
Individual reaction to Meier’s architecture.
The expectation of the work by Meier was the use of his trademark materials, similar to his previous architectural designs. The structure was uncharacteristic of Meier’s former works, due to its rich culture and complex planning. Another expectation was architectural harmony displaying the characteristics of architecture that include unity, consistency and interaction. His habitual work involved the design of buildings in uniform thin-line drawings but this was not the case with the Getty centre (Filler 1).
Some of these differences were attributed to the demands imposed on the building, including the use of durable material like stone. There was a requirement of heavy underground construction to support the height of the structures above the ground level. Another construction requirement requires that the buildings include a private core to provide light, and a public core at the centre of the complex (Filler 2).
Meier was observed to master the construction design progressively over the thirteen years of design work, working on his skill to accommodate the client and government conditions imposed (Filler 2). The architectural work of Meier was as amazing as expected. There was the inclusion of his prior designs including the circular paths around the site connecting the various sections, the internal patios and courtyards, the entrance conditions at the main plaza level as well as the exterior masses and elevations (Filler 3).
The effect achieved by the design was marvellous, and included the distant views from various angles, the entry and main plazas, the museum courtyard, the sunken gardens, patios and eastern terraces of the east and north buildings and the program of the research institute (Filler 3).
The view of the Getty Centre from various angles is useful in creating the urban identity (Filler 3). Long views of the centre are possible from the north and south approaches. Upon arrival at the Getty centre, vehicles are parked at the base while the people use cable-driven electric tram to ascend, providing the people with beautiful scenery of Los Angeles and the pacific (Filler 3). Guided tours are provided, and the dining options are varied.
The Getty centre provides a variety of activities for kids and families, allowing the entry of people with cameras to capture the nice moments. The best time to visit the Getty centre is in the evening or late afternoon when there are fewer people and the scenery is magnificent in the lighting (Filler 3).
Filler, Martin. “The Big Rock Candy Mountain.” 1997.
Meier, Richard, et al. “The Getty Center: Design Process and Making Architecture: The Getty Center.” Los Angeles, California: Getty Publications, 1997. 46-68.
Williams, Harold. “Making Architecture: The Getty Center.” Los Angeles, California: J. Paul Getty Trust, 1997. 93-136.