Friday, September 2, 2011

“Integrazione scenica of the villa into the landscape”: The Getty Center, Los Angeles

photograph by versluis, 2011

The Richard Meier quote in the title of this piece is from Michael Brawne’s essay and book about the Getty Center. The picture above is overlooking the space between the Museum and the Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities. The architect Meier and his large team have combined the buildings “in a special gesture” while the people in the scene enliven the spaces. To the left is the circular Central Garden designed by Robert Irwin.

In the middle ground — the sloping line of mature London plane trees (“Yarwood”) help “soften” the buildings and hide the “classic” cascading stream of water that empties into the circular pool below.

For insight about the design of the Getty Center, Brawne quotes Meier:

Sometimes I think that the landscape overtakes it, and sometimes I see the structure as standing out, dominating the landscape. The two are entwined in a dialogue, a perpetual embrace in which building and site are one.

In the garden the organization, conversion and perfection of nature took place according to prescribed architectural rules, which brought about the Integrazione scenica of the villa into the landscape. The plan of the villa can be regarded as a rational scheme superimposed on the landscape in which those parts of the landscape covered by the scheme are ordered and intensified.[1]
Brawne ends his essay with a profound truth by saying:
The thousands who make the journey uphill to the Getty Center each day… can in no way escape taking delight in the paintings and sculpture, in the architecture and its surrounding gardens, in the light and the view, in the joyful and civilized atmosphere that has been created.[2]
  1. Brawne, Michael; (John Linden, photographs; John Hewitt, drawings). The Getty Center: Richard Meier & Partners. London: Phaidon Press Ltd, 1998. 35. Print.
  2. Ibid, 48.

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