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Inventory of the Getty Center Central Garden Design Plans
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical note
  • Historical background
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Archival Materials note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Getty Center Central Garden design plans
    Date (inclusive): approximately 1992-1996
    Number: IA40020
    Creator/Collector: Irwin, Robert, 1928-
    Physical Description: 65.4 linear feet (1 model; 17 framed drawings; 3 architectural rolls; 8 flat files)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Institutional Records and Archives
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: Dating from approximately 1992 to 1996, materials comprise drawings, presentation boards, and a landscape study model generated as part of the design process for the Central Garden at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Artist Robert Irwin conceived of the design and produced the materials, assisted by Spurlock Poirier Landscape Architects.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record at library catalog record  for this collection and click "Request an Item." Click here for general library access policy . See the Administrative Information section of this finding aid for access restrictions specific to the records described below. Please note, these records are stored off site; advanced notice is required for access to these materials.
    Language: Collection material is in English

    Biographical note

    Born September 12, 1928 in Long Beach, California, artist Robert Irwin is a leader among the generation of West Coast artists that defined the Light and Space movement. Irwin studied at the Otis Art Institute and the Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles and began his career as a painter, associating with the vibrant Ferus Gallery scene of the late 1950s and 1960s. Irwin's ongoing considerations of the nature of light and space led him to create complex environmental paintings and, in turn, non-object based environments and installations. The transformative pieces he produced in the 1960s and 1970s helped shape the aesthetics and conceptual foundations of the Light and Space movement, which continues to inform the complex works he produces. Irwin strategically places his artwork in its interior or exterior environment, confronting the viewer with the conditions and qualities of the surroundings as well as the work, thereby orchestrating the viewer's awareness and experience. His work is therefore characterized with unique perceptual qualities that are produced as a viewer interacts with and responds to his art as a physical, sensory, and temporal experience. In addition to his painting, installations, and landscape design, Robert Irwin has contributed to the arts through extensive theoretical writing.

    Historical background

    The Central Garden, created by American artist Robert Irwin, lies at the heart of the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California. The 134,000-square-foot design features a natural ravine and tree-lined walkway that leads the visitor through an extraordinary experience of sights, sounds, and scents.
    The walkway traverses a stream that winds through a variety of plants and gradually descends to a plaza where bougainvillea arbors provide scale and a sense of intimacy. Continuing through the plaza, the stream cascades over a stone waterfall or "chadar," into a pool with a floating maze of azaleas. Specialty gardens encircle the pool. All of the foliage and materials of the garden, including over 500 varieties of plants, have been selected to accentuate the interplay of light, color, and reflection. Robert Irwin began planning the Central Garden in 1992, as a key part of the Getty Center project. Since the Center opened in 1997, the Central Garden has evolved as its plants have grown and been trimmed. New plants are constantly being added to the palette. Irwin's statement, "Always changing, never twice the same," is carved into the plaza floor, reminding visitors of the ever-changing nature of this living work of art.
    Executing Irwin's design for the Central Garden required the collaboration of a number of people, including engineers, soil scientists, plant experts, landscape architects, and Getty staff. In finalizing all aspects of the garden, Irwin worked closely with Harold M. Williams and Stephen D. Rountree of the J. Paul Getty Trust; Richard Naranjo, the Getty's manager of grounds and gardens; and Spurlock Poirier Landscape Architects.
    The Central Garden is set within the larger context of the Getty Center campus. Emmet L. Wemple & Associates Landscape Architects designed the landscaping of the major hillsides of the 110-acre site while Olin Partnership, Philadelphia designed additional gardens throughout the campus.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions

    The materials described in accession 1998.IA.15 are available for use by qualified researchers. The landscape study model in accession 1998.IA.13 is oversized, fragile, and stored off site; special arrangements must be made to view the model.
    The following types of records are permanently closed: records containing personal information, records that compromise security or operations, legal communications, legal work product, and records related to donors. The J. Paul Getty Trust reserves the right to restrict access to any records held by the Institutional Archives.

    Publication Rights

    Contact Library Rights and Reproductions  at the Getty Research Institute for copyright information and permission to publish.

    Preferred Citation

    [Cite the item], Getty Center Central Garden Design Plans, Robert Irwin. The Getty Research Institute (IA40020).

    Immediate Source of Acquisition note

    Materials originate from accessions 1998.IA.15 and 1998.IA.13. (Accession 1998.IA.15 was separated from 1997.IA.10 for administrative control.)

    Processing Note

    Unframed drawings were re-housed during accessioning, but framed drawings have been left in their frames.

    Related Archival Materials note

    The following materials are offered as possible sources of further information on the people and subjects covered by the records. The listing is not exhaustive.
    Series I.B and Series II. Getty Center Site Planning and Construction Photographs, 1947-1997,  J. Paul Getty Trust Building Program. The Getty Research Institute, Finding aid no. IA40001.
    Series IX. Robert Irwin Papers, circa 1940-2011, bulk 1970-2011.  The Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 940081.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Dating from approximately 1992 to 1996, materials comprise drawings, presentation boards, and a landscape study model generated as part of the design process for the Central Garden at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Artist Robert Irwin conceived of the design and produced the materials, assisted by Spurlock Poirier Landscape Architects.

    Arrangement note

    Original order of materials has been maintained.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Corporate Bodies

    Getty Center (Los Angeles, Calif.)

    Subjects - Topics

    Gardens--Design--20th century
    Landscape architecture--Designs and plans--California--20th century
    Outdoor art--20th century
    Public art--Designs and plans
    Space (Art)--California--20th century

    Subjects - Places

    Getty Center Gardens (Los Angeles, Calif.)


    J. Paul Getty Trust. Building Program
    Spurlock Poirier Landscape Architects