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The Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049-1687
Richard Meier & Partners. Also: Robert Irwin, central garden; Emmet L. Wemple & Assoc. and the Olin Partnership, landscaping; Thierry W. Despont, interior gallery design.

The Getty Center comprises the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Education Institute for the Arts, the Getty Grant Program, the Getty Information Institute, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, the J. Paul Getty Museum, an auditorium, central garden, and several cafes and restaurants.

Richard Meier is perhaps the best elocutor of his work; in Andreas Papadakis and James Steele, Architecture of Today (Paris: Terrail, 1991) he is quoted as saying:


getty4.jpg (25334 bytes) 'Architecture is the subject of my architecture...What I seek to do is pursue the plastic limits of modern architecture to include a notion of beauty moulded by light. My wish is to create a kind of spatial lyricism within the canon of pure form. In the design of my buildings, I am expanding and elaborating on what I consider to be the formal base of the Modern Movement...The great promise and richness of some of the formal tenets of Modernism have almost unlimited areas for investigation...I work with volume and surface, I manipulate forms in light, changes in scale and view, movement and stasis.'

I have started three or four essays on the Getty center, which usually devolve into general ruminations about Los Angeles, and finally dribble into musings about what exactly the ubiquitous and affecting Calvin Klein billboards are capturing - perhaps the brittle, viscous, luminescent chrysalis from child to adult - a visual capture that has a particular assertiveness in a city that is always in the act of becoming, of promising transformation.

LA’s aura of imagination and transformation has deeply impacted its architecture, and thus it is all the more surprising, and somehow effective, to have the Getty stand as a conservative monolith on a hill; an extraordinary feat of civil engineering, stone carving, and exquisite interior lighting that, despite the fluidity of garden and water elements, is deeply and heavily anchored in Los Angeles.

It is as though Richard Meier were granted one last chance to keep aesthetic Western civilization from slipping away--from sliding down the western mountains and into the chaotic digital sea of the 21st century Pacific. In a city that is 52% Hispanic and Asian stands an extraordinarily lovely epic poem to Western achievement. It is this unlikely mix of cultures that gives Los Angeles, and the Getty Center, a volatile and dream-like beauty.

Christy Rogers, 1998 (updated 2010)

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How to visit

Getting there

Comprehensive information about getting to the Getty by car, bus, taxi etc. is on the Gettty's official web site at
Advance reservations are required for parking at some times, so please check this site in advance. 

Being there

No need to bring lunch, there are many lovely and varied places to dine (or snack) at the Getty. You’ll be so open-mouthed at the architecture and landscape architecture of the site that you might, as I did, almost forget to go in the museum. Don’t! Meier lit the collection with natural sunlight--the condition in which much of the work was created--and the paintings absolutely sing.

Books and other web sites

Click the book title to view and to order direct from


0375400435_m.gif (26295 bytes) Building the Getty
Richard Meier

The architect's own account of building the Getty, with some serious text but too few illustrations. is the official web site of the Getty Center, with comprehensive visitor information. has Richard Meier's own description and photographs.

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