A Day at the Getty Center

As I started my journey walking up the hill, as opposed to taking the tram, I knew I was in for something special. When I got to the top, it was everything I expected and more.

Absolutely gorgeous.

Designed by architect Richard Meier, the Getty Center took about eight years to build, at a cost of $1.3 billion, and opened to the public in December 1997. The buildings are made from 16,000 tons of travertine imported from Bagni di Tivoli, Italy. The Getty Center sits atop a 900-foot hill, in the Santa Monica Mountains, and on a clear day you can see the Los Angeles skyline, San Bernadino Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

It was truly the most perfect atmosphere to escape to.

The day I visited the center it was mostly sunny and 70 degrees. The wind was calm and everyone seemed so peaceful. People were reading in the central garden, designed by artist Robert Irwin, and picnics were being lain on the lawns. All you could hear were the birds chirping and the white noise from the waterfalls. From one path to another, I ventured around the campus to find every viewing deck imaginable. I captured all the intimate and detailed photos I could until I finally ran out of film. As time seemed to stand still during my visit, I realized that I spent about seven hours visiting the Center, one of which was spent inside the actual museum, which I should mention is entirely free, except for parking. The museum houses pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, sculpture, decorative arts, and photographs from around the world.

The Center is thought to be able to survive an earthquake of 7.5 magnitude on the Richter scale.

Fun fact for all the engineers: because the Center is located in an area prone to forest fires and earthquakes, it has been designed and constructed with special systems in place to minimize any damage these natural disasters can cause. To prevent fire damage, the electrical transformers use silicone fluid as a coolant, as well as using fire-resistant poverty weed spread around the grounds. The sprinkler system is interesting, because it is designed to calibrate the level of risk between the water damage that may occur on a valuable piece of artwork vs. the damage that may be caused by the fire itself. I wonder how accurate it is, but I also hope that they never have to find out. 

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All photos by Danielle Kachler.

I highly recommend visiting the Getty Center, and if possible, stay for the sunset. 


Danielle Kachler, IIDA, Intermediate Designer

Danielle Kachler, IIDA, Intermediate Designer