Introduction and Index to Getty Center

Richard Meier


The Getty Center, sometimes referred to as a campus, is comprised of six buildings: the Auditorium, North and East Buildings at the north and east sides, the Museum, Cafe and Research Institute on the south and western sides of the site. (See map on this official Getty Center site.) It is also sometimes called a modern "Acropolis" since it is spectacularly located on a 110-acre hilltop with a view south over Santa Monica and the basin of Los Angeles and west to the Pacific Ocean. Curvilinear forms extending from essentially rectilinear structures echo contours of the site as well as more distant elements--the San Diego freeway below or the Pacific Ocean. Because of height restrictions, much of the Getty Center is underground and the six buildings are linked to each other at basement levels.

The huge complex, in memory of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, cost 1 billion dollars and was designed by Pritzker prize winner Richard Meier, who was awarded the commission over two other finalists, Fumihiko Maki and James Sterling. Meier is known for his high tech white buildings (see The Atheneum and Clifty Creek Elementary School) but not all of the buildings at the Getty Center are of white enamel panels; some are clad in a warm beige textured travertine quarried in Italy. These non-load-bearing slabs with obvious joints are held in place by stainless steel anchors.

The site is extensively landscaped, partly because Meier's building aesthetic demands an interaction with the natural environment and partly because the site had been completely disturbed during construction and thus subject to erosion. The slopes are planted with thousands of oak trees and ground cover. A large controversial Central Garden designed by Robert Irwin is located between the Museum and the Research Institute.

The new Museum at the Getty Center replaces the Malibu J. Paul Getty Museum, a design based on a Roman villa, which is closed for remodeling. It will eventually showcase the Getty collection of Greek and Roman art.


Tram and passages
6 images
6 images
East Building
9 images
Research Institute
3 images
3 images
Museum Front
8 images
Museum Courtyard
13 images
Museum from south and west
11 images
Museum Interior
8 images
Central Garden by Robert Irwin
17 images

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© 2000 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.

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