A couple of weeks ago, a good friend of mine was in town from Seattle and really wanted to visit the Getty Museum. We and some local friends attended an architecture tour and I learned a few things about the design of the Getty Center. The architect, Richard Meier, worked with nearby homeowners to reach a mutual decision about design details. Known for his neutral color palette and use of metal, he had to make some alterations from his usual aesthetic for this project. The homeowners didn't want him to use black or white for the color palette and a certain majority percentage of the edifice had to be composed of stone. For this he chose both textured and smooth beige travertine tiles, which were imported from Italy and are often studded with fossils.
The site was built on a grid to reference the fact that the city of Los Angeles features a prominent grid. This grid is is reflected in the perfectly square tiles, straight lines of sight moving into the distance, and corridors into the various buildings of the site that frame a view of the surrounding mountainside. There are amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, San Bernadino and Santa Monica Mountains, and Los Angeles, and nature is also invited into the Center through gardens and clever uses of architecture (but not directly like bunnies or anything; a family of owls sees to that).
Design elements reference classical architecture, such as the numerous archways, gardens, ponds, fountains, and terraces. Interior ceilings and walls are made up of myriad skylights and windows, to allow for natural light and bring the outdoors inside. Aside from the beige travertine and painted metal facade, the only color Meier used as a highlight was purple, to reflect the purple sage that tinted the Santa Monica Mountains at dusk. This purple appears in various shades from painted architectural elements to blossoms of cherry trees and lavender around the grounds.
After we left the Getty, we visited Santa Monica to catch the sunset.
See the photo essay on VSCO here.
Learn more about the Getty architecture here.