Forms, topography, materials, context, landscape, and views all create a sense place.

Richard Meier’s design for the Getty Center Art Museum Complex in Los Angles, California is a beautiful example of the connection of all of these elements working together to create a unique experience of art, nature, culture, and place.

Built on the hilltop of the Santa Monica Mountains, this complex encourages people to explore and discover breathtaking views of the city, the Pacific Ocean, the San Gabriel Mountains, and surrounding backdrops.

The forms of the buildings mimic and accent the movement of the mountain’s topography and are built into the mountain. Smooth off-white enamel-clad aluminum panels and rough-cut fossilized travertine – join natural stone and metal materials to create a unique juxtaposition of the buildings’ texture and connection to landscape.

Large spans of glass provide natural day lighting which is filtered for the various art galleries, yet offers a variety of connections and clear site lines to a variety of pavilions, gardens, terraces, and the panoramic views beyond.

These standard design principles – used to create a sense of place for this massive multi-faceted complex are the equivalent for those of a small – less complex – project. Yet, often, buildings are designed and built on a flat site with no consideration of forms, topography, materials, context, landscape, and views. As Architects and Designers, our designs are to respond, develop, and enhance our project’s location and “place” and create something extraordinary out of the ordinary.