About this Website
The main purpose of this website is to make available to anyone with internet access a sufficient number of high quality color images that they may explore the architecture of the Getty Center on their own. Of course photographic images are a completely inadequate substitute for the experience of walking through and viewing an architectural complex, but not everyone has the opportunity of visiting the Getty and even those who do rarely have time to explore the architecture as fully as they might like.
This website focuses on the architecture of the Center, including its landscaping. It does not deal more broadly with the J. Paul Getty Trust and its programs or with the architects, Richard Meier and Michael Palladino, or other individuals involved in the design and construction of the Center. I have not included Robert Irwin's luxurious garden sculpture ("Central Garden") because it is a separately commissioned work of art.
As always, the audience I have in mind is primarily college and university students and others with a serious interest in the architecture being studied. However, websites allow anyone with internet access to browse material in whatever way one wishes and I should be pleased if some initially casual viewers were to discover a previously unexplored interest in the fascination of architectural design through this website.
A well-known aspect of the internet revolution is that all of us have been empowered to make available on websites whatever information we wish in whatever form we wish. This may turn much of the web into a black hole, but it also allows scholars to publish types of information rarely included in books but useful to many viewers. Thus, in this web site the date at which the photo was taken is noted with each photo, a practice I have long urged for publication of all images intended as evidence, whatever the field. In the bibliography I include annotations for all publications, providing an overview of the literature and, unlike a mere list, helping readers to identify publications they may wish to follow up on their own. Although I greatly admire many of the published photographs of the Getty Center architecture, this website attempts to show the architecture as a peopled space as seen by normal viewers.
While the primary focus of this website is its content, the architecture of the Getty Center, it provides also an opportunity to demonstrate the immense potential of digital images for recording and sharing information to a diverse audience. On the web it is possible to make available many more large, high quality color images than can ever be afforded in print publication, whatever the subject. For an architectural complex as expansive and varied as the Getty Center, with changing perspectives at every turn, unexpected alcoves and endless details to be discovered, even the six hundred images on this website provide only a glimpse of what can be seen on site.
I hope that the small preview images will make this website available to anyone who has access to the Internet. At the same time, I am anxious to take advantage of the ability of the Internet to transmit large, higher quality images. I hope that those with access to larger monitors, more powerful computers and faster internet browsers, such as those increasingly available in college and university computer user centers, will explore this site on this better equipment. Thus, any image on this site can be viewed at 1536 x 1024 resolution by anyone with interest in that image and access to the necessary technology. I should like this website to stimulate recognition and development of high quality digital imagery, so necessary if we are to preserve and have access to the world's vast photographic record comparable to that so long available for text.
First and Second Editions
The initial two hundred images of the Getty Center's architecture were posted on the web primarily to assist people worldwide in participating in the grand opening of the Center and to see to some extent what was being discussed in the world press. Nearly all of the photographs were taken and the website created and posted in a period of little over a month. For this second edition of the website, I have had the advantage of several additional trips to the Getty, during which I have attempted to photograph more systematically, especially aspects of the architecture and landscaping which seem important but often not represented in the more expensive format of print publication. Since the public opening of the Center, a number of books and a great many articles have been published dealing with the architecture and I have added the most useful to the annotated bibliography.
One of my aims in producing websites is to assist in the world-wide effort to develop prototypes for the kinds of websites that would actually be useful in teaching and research. One of the preconditions for such use is that websites be maintained by their institutional sponsors so that they can be assigned for class study elsewhere and referenced in other publications. I have been encouraged by messages from students and faculty at other institutions describing the importance of these images in their study of the Getty Center architecture and am committed to maintaining both editions of this site for their use.
Equipment and Software
All images on this website derive from 35mm slides taken by the author on Fujichrome and Ektachrome film, 100 ASA, using a Canon A-1 camera with Canon macro lens FD 50mm and Canon zoom lens FD 80-200mm, all handheld. Slides were scanned onto Kodak Photo CD Portfolio II discs by LUNA Imaging, Venice, California, and onto Kodak Photo CD master discs by Wy'east Color Inc., Portland., Oregon. Digital images were adjusted for web trasmission and display by the photographer on two side-by-side 21 inch Nokia 445X monitors and an aging Macintosh 7500/100 computer with a 9.1 gigabyte external hard drive with IBM mechanism, using Adobe Photoshop 5.0. PICT files at 1536 x c.1088 were slightly compressed to JPEG, maximum quality, for uploading to the server. The three panoramas were created at Citizens Photo, Portland, using a Wacom graphics tablet and Photoshop 5.5. Text was written using Microsoft Word and captions written and edited using Dreamweaver 3.0. HTML. Coding was done by Reed students in the Faculty Media Lab at the College, most recently using Photoshop 5.5 and Dreamweaver 3.0 on a PowerMac G3 400mHz computer.
Lists of the many persons responsible for the design and construction of the Getty Center are given in Making Architecture: The Getty Center, pages 164-165 (listed in "Publications about the Architecture"). This website was originally designed cooperatively by Greg Haun and Charles Rhyne. Later Marc Chen did important work on several pages. The three seamless panoramas were created by Don Vallereux, Graphic Artist, Citizens Photo, Portland. HTML coding was done by Reed College students Heather Humble, Nicholas Thornton, and Andrew Wallace, who have worked with me in searching for simplicity and clarity in web design. Michael Hanrahan and Frederick Lifton, Instructional Technology Specialists and successive Directors of the Faculty Media Lab at Reed have helped in numerous ways. My continuing work with digital images has been supported in ways beyond my comprehension by the gifted computer specialists at Reed College, of whom I mention especially Martin Ringle, Director, and Marianne Colgrove, Associate Director, of Computing and Information Services.
At the Getty Center, I have been privileged to discuss the architecture not only with many of the regular staff but also with a number of persons with specialized expertise. Eric Doehne, Associate Scientist at the Getty Conservation Institute has shared his intimate knowledge of travertine and its use at the Center. Michael DeHart, Trust Horticulturist, has identified many of the trees and plants and generally helped me to understanding the rapidly flourishing landscape. I have also had rewarding discussions regarding the architecture with Jim Druzik, Senior Scientist, at the Getty Conservation Institute, and with Murtha Baca, Head, Getty Standards Program, Getty Research Instiutute. At the GCI Library, where the staff has been so helpful with my research on conservation over the years, Jackie Zak, Research Associate, Information and Communications Group, directed me to the library's loose-leaf collection of newspaper and magazine reviews.
My work with digital images over the past decade has been dependent on the multifaceted support of Reed College, which has pioneered the integration of computer technology at liberal arts colleges. Student assistance has been provided through grants to Reed from the Charles E. Culpeper and Andrew W. Mellon Foundations, which have also funded my work. Much of this website and my other digital image projects have been made possible by a major grant from the Northwest Academic Computer Consortium.
Relevant articles such as "Student Evaluation of the Usefulness of Computer Images in Art History and Related Disciplines," "Images as Evidence in Art History and Related Disciplines," and "Computer Images for Research, Teaching, and Publication in Art History and Related Disciplines," are available on my homepage.
Charles S. Rhyne