Sunday, August 23, 2009

Gracious Access

This sunday afternoon was a beautiful day to be at the Getty, overlooking the Los Angeles basin. Good thing that's where I was. (Slideshow link) My architecture friend and I made a day of it, caught the architectural tour, wandered through the galleries we were interested in, took pictures in the garden, chatted up the room monitors, and overall had a lovely day.

The Getty is a relatively young museum with space to grow. What that means now is that their collection is of a size you can take in without getting overwhelmed. I quite liked several of their impressionist paintings, an offbeat bust of a cranky guy, and some tremendously detailed tapestries of China made in France (leads to very strange looking personages). Maybe they could establish a turtle or lobster scavenger hunt to find all the artworks that contain them. (Paintings, present tense tureens, tapestries, veneered cabinetry and more!)

Because the architecture of the grounds is so pronounced, featuring bold squares of travertine (the nearest thing to white the neighbors would allow), and I was hanging with an architect, we talked architecture. The path through the gardens zigs and zags. I think it looks a little like the Vietnam memorial, but unlike the washington version, this didn't give me the chills. It's built to be wheelchair accessible but meant for everyone. We spoke about that for a while and my friend came up with the word to describe the handicapped accessible features that I prefer: gracious.

I absolutely detest when architects or engineers or designers know full well that they will be designing a public building and the handicapped entryways appear as clunky afterthoughts wedged in during a fit of pique. Don't fight the requirements, use the constraint to force a more thoughtful design! Turn it into a feature. Make sure the entrance isn't just functional, but make it so gracious that everyone wants to use it, not just those who require some accommodation. Like the path through the garden and over the fountain at the Getty. (Although I do hope there's an elevator somewhere to help get back up! LA is hilly!) I'd love some links to good examples of gracious accommodating entrances to look at while I wait for my bathroom photos to upload.

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