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Drawing, J. Paul Getty Center, Los Angeles: Site Study 1

This is a Drawing. It is dated September 4, 1986 and we acquired it in 2009. Its medium is graphite on tracing paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

This preparatory drawing provides an especially interesting and revealing glimpse into architect Richard Meier’s design process. Meier is one of the preeminent architects of the late 20th century and the Getty Center is unquestionably Meier’s most ambitious and most celebrated creation. This early drawing of the Getty’s complex layout shows the architect developing the orientation and regulating grids for the architecture, which are based on the 22.5 degree angle of the San Diego Freeway as it comes from the south and bends to the north below the Center. This is also the same angle as the two intersecting ridges that run through the complex. Superimposed on the two orientation lines, Meier has set two grids on which he has begun to lay out a grouping of museum pavilions and a visitor arrival area.
Although the museum’s collection includes prints by Meier, this drawing, together with another drawing proposed for acquisition, would be the first drawings by Meier to enter the collection. As a pair, they make a great addition to the museum’s collection of contemporary architectural drawings and prints.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Searching for Perfection.

It is credited Gift of Ana Meier.

  • Model 500 Telephone
  • molded plastic, metal, rubber.
  • Transfer from Exhibitions Department.
  • 2009-50-1-a/c
  • Object ID #18343861
  • graphite on white paperboard, mounted on canvas.
  • Museum purchase from James B. Ford and Peter Cooper Hewitt Estate Funds.
  • 1936-60-2

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Its dimensions are

61 x 94 cm (24 x 37 in.) Frame (existing): 102.9 x 102.9 x 5.9 cm (40 1/2 x 40 1/2 x 2 5/16 in.)

It has the following markings

Stamp in black, lower right: SITE STUDY 1/4 SEPT 86

It is inscribed

Inscribed in graphite, upper right and along a diagonal from left to right: orientation of grid related to the San Diego Freeway; on diagonal from corner, lower left and running from lower left to upper right: orientation of grid related to north-south direction/and high points and blueprints of site

Cite this object as

Drawing, J. Paul Getty Center, Los Angeles: Site Study 1; USA; graphite on tracing paper; 61 x 94 cm (24 x 37 in.) Frame (existing): 102.9 x 102.9 x 5.9 cm (40 1/2 x 40 1/2 x 2 5/16 in.); Gift of Ana Meier; 2009-15-1

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibitions Making Design and Meier 75.

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Drawing, J. Paul Getty Center, Los Angeles: Site Study 1 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=9 June 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>