The 134,000-square-foot Central Garden at the Getty Center is the work of artist Robert Irwin. The design of the Central Garden re-establishes the natural ravine between the Museum and the Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities with an inviting, tree-lined walkway that leads the visitor through an extraordinary garden experience. The walkway traverses a stream planted on each side with a variety of grasses and gradually descends to a plaza where bougainvillea arbors provide scale and a sense of intimacy. The stream continues through the plaza and ends in a cascade of water over a stone waterfall or "chadar," into a pool in which a maze of azaleas floats. Around the pool is a series of specialty gardens, each with a variety of plant material. All of the foliage and materials of the garden have been selected to accentuate the interplay of light, color, and reflection.
The process of creating the Central Garden began for Irwin in 1992, when he started working with Harold M. Williams and Stephen D. Rountree of the J. Paul Getty Trust in consultation with Richard Meier, the architect of the Getty Center. Irwin has also worked closely with Richard Naranjo, the Getty’s manager of grounds and gardens, and the landscape architecture firm of Spurlock Poirier, in finalizing all facets of the garden.