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Building the Getty by Richard Meier

Building the Getty

by Richard Meier

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375400435, Hardcover)

Richard Meier's Getty Center complex in Los Angeles, thirteen years in the making, is the subject of this autobiographical account of what has been frequently called "the architectural commission of the century." Meier has the perfect authorial voice, admirably straddling the personal and the professional with aplomb and understated flair. He opens with a straightforward account of his youthful interest in art and architecture, his basement studio in his parents' suburban new Jersey home, his education at Cornell, and his post-graduation European tour, where he unsuccessfully hounded Le Corbusier for an unpaid apprenticeship and failed to track down Alvar Aalto, another hero. His first "published" house was one commissioned by his parents; his first "freestanding work" was an $11,000 pre-fab Long Island home that was later sold to Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks. "Now I often wonder how it is that my architecture came to acquire what for many people is its singular style: this image of a perennially gleaming white building flooded with light," he writes. The rest of the book, which is punctuated by black-and-white documentary photographs, is Meier's well-crafted, detailed account of the Getty commission, including subtle descriptions of the politics involved in all aspects of its design, siting, landscaping, and daily use. It's all here: the immensity of siting the multi-building complex in the mountains overlooking the Pacific, the hundreds of architects who came to work on the project, and the craftsmen and contractors and construction crews who made it a user-friendly reality as well as a stunning modernist masterwork. Meier calmly takes the reader through the maze of issues and construction phases. Few architecture books could be more educational, or more gracefully written. --Peggy Moorman

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:10 -0400)

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One of America's most eminent architects tells us what it was like to undertake the architectural commission of the century: the building of the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Writing with wit and passion and in engrossing detail, Richard Meier takes us behind the scenes of the thirteen-year-long, one-billion-dollar project. Meier tells us how he was selected from more than thirty architects, after a lengthy and involved series of interviews, to design the cultural campus on the spectacular 110-acre site overlooking the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The Getty was a new cultural institution, and Meier worked with the program directors to design the buildings that would serve them best. In the beginning, neither he nor the Getty had any idea of the complications in store for them.The sheer scale and complexity of the project, and the number of people involved in every decision, continued to mean constant revisions. As construction moved ahead, Meier lived on the site, yet commuted to his New York office to manage ongoing European projects, while in his new office in Los Angeles, the population of architects handling the Getty grew to more than a hundred. Although the Center's design had been agreed on, much negotiation lay ahead before questions of material, color, and landscaping were at last settled. Finally, in 1996, almost half of the Center was ready to be occupied, and Meier could see that the work - carried out by the many architects, engineers, technicians, craftsmen, and builders for twelve years - was well on its way to being completed.… (more)

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