This project was to be a regional extension of the Getty Research Institute, sited in a sprawling city park across the Willamette River from the University of Oregon and Downtown Eugene. Based in Los Angeles, this is a private institution with a deeply public mission that crosses human history: the Institute is “dedicated to furthering knowledge and advancing understanding of the visual arts and their histories.” Central to its work are the collection materials, which comprise its most tangible communication with past and future.
The formative architectural decision places the Institute’s collection materials into three top-lit towers, relating their purpose to the vertical, otherworldly, axis and separating it from the horizontal worldly plane. The towers give the institute a public presence without compromising its cloistered privacy. They have been placed nearest the popular river’s edge to maximize visibility and heighten the tension between public and private.
The working elements of the complex, including a reading room, work space for resident fellows, gallery and lecture space for public programming, and administrative spaces, are drawn back from the river’s edge into greater privacy. In contrast to the towers which have been intentionally divorced from the landscape, the forms of the larger center have been thoroughly related into it, making the place where history is worked with as comfortable and connected to the here-and-now as possible.