Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My pictures of the Paul Getty Villa

In 1945 oil investor J. Paul Getty purchased a 64 acre site in the beautiful Malibu, Southern California; in 1954 he opened the original Paul Getty Museum in his home to exhibit his collection of Greek and Roman antiquities.
In 1968, Getty decided to re-create a first century Roman country house, the Villa dei Papiri on the Malibu property to display his growing collection of art. This Villa was opened to the public in 1974, and though he followed up all the construction works from England -where he was living-, Getty was never able to visit his own Villa, he died in 1976.
In 1997 the Villa was closed to the public for renovation works, assigned to the Argentine architects Machado-Silvetti, whose main studio is established in Boston. In the meanwhile, the Paul Getty Center, designed by Richard Meier opened to exhibit mostly modern art.
In 2006 the renovated Villa was opened again.
My impression is that the Villa design is a kind of kitsch, you can feel it is not real, except for the Greek and Roman exhibitions.
Anyway, I enjoyed walking around, took a lot of pictures and had a wonderful afternoon.
Regarding the work of Machado-Silvetti, the idea of the archaeological stratification is great, made with expertise, and the details, were excellent. My architect husband says some expensive details by Machado-Silvetti are only understood by architects, maybe he is right, while inside the gift shop, I missed an impressive marble at its corner, a complete piece cut in a slight arch to make a perfect -almost hidden- finish. 
These pictures belong to my archives and please, do not reproduce without my permission.


From the web page of Machado-Silvetti:
The project includes the remodeling of the existing J. Paul Getty Museum (a re-creation of the Villa dei Papiri, a first-century Roman country house) to create a new home for the Getty’s permanent collection of antiquities; the transformation of Mr. Getty’s ranch house into a research facility; and the construction of new buildings, public areas, and gardens. The various elements—including the new Entry Pavilion, the Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater, Café, Museum Store, conservation labs, scholar’s library and educational facilities—are conceived as an integral part of the new gardens and outdoor spaces, with the original villa serving as the centerpiece. These new elements are either expressed as stratified retaining walls (such as the Auditorium, the Museum Store, and the conservation labs) or articulated as discrete architectural elements (as is the case with the Entry Pavilion and the Theater). The new architecture neither contrasts nor emulates the architecture of the museum building itself, but defines the character for the new Getty Villa site so that it stands on its own while seeking harmony with all the disparate existing structures, steep topography, the gardens, and public spaces. What had originally been a set of unrelated buildings and paths is now a coherent, harmonious environment. The new architecture transforms the inherent topographical difficulties into an amenity, allowing visitors to wander through the lush site, following the contours of the design and terrain, as if experiencing the drama of an archaeological dig.


  1. The new additions by Machado and Silvetti seem to ignore the Classical style of the original villa and make no effort to adapt to it. I'm not impressed at the result, since the architectural ensemble is severely diminished. Contrary to the statement by the architects, there is neither harmony nor coherence, just jarring incongruity.

    1. The problem I see here is that the Villa is not an original building, with the beauty of the real Roman houses, I think it´s more an scenography, specially the paintings inside the peristyle. I think Machado-Silvetti´s design is absolutely related to the earth, to the landscape and the concrete, stone and marble are part of the ground and the mountain. Thank you for your comment,



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