The Getty Center is built on a hilltop in Los Angeles, where it provides a place of beauty and space high above the homes and the busy freeway. In its prime location, you will enjoy views of the city and the Pacific Ocean. On a recent visit, I was so taken with the style of architecture that I’m going to focus on just that. The Getty houses world-class art and a remarkable garden, which we can look at in future posts. So what is so notable about the style of the Getty Center?
As soon as you arrive by tram after winding up the road, you notice that all around are buildings, grounds, stairways, and walls of white and cream. Travertine tile brought in from Italy is everywhere, giving the campus a unified, clean, simple look. And this is extremely calming.
The Getty Center was designed by architect Richard Meier, who chose this tile for travertine’s qualities: Permanence, solidity, simplicity, warmth, and craftsmanship. About 16,000 tons of tile from just outside Rome is now shaped and polished here. An abundance of trees soften the hardness of the tile. And fountains and ponds add a soothing contrast, too. Points around the Getty Center provide views from terraces and balconies.The Getty is free. You pay to park ($16) and then the entire museum is open to you. Tours are also free of charge. I enjoyed the architectural tour with our enthusiastic guide Carolina. She’s standing here in front of the only color in the entire complex of buildings. The light purple represents the color of the sky at sunset.
You’ll find very little in the way of signs pointing you various places. Carolina explained that the design “invites” you to explore. You naturally want to pass under this arch. A canopy over a doorway shows that it’s a friendly door so you can enter. And a table under a trellis makes you want to linger here with a latte. The campus includes a cafe, a restaurant, and a coffee cart that offers not only drinks but also fresh fruit and snacks. The cappuccino bread is delicious!
Another theme of the Getty Center is symmetry. This looks like one tree until you look from the side. Rows of trees or plants are lined up so perfectly. The order, even in the landscape, is relaxing.
The Getty Center is open from 10 to 5:30 and on Saturdays stays open until 9:00. It is closed on Mondays. Parking is $16; entrance to the Getty Center is free. For more information, check out the website.
How about you? Have you visited the Getty? Do you have a favorite center or museum where you go to relax and recharge?
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