Covered in 1.2 million square feet of imported travertine stone, the Getty Center is a Los Angeles institution. The $1.2 billion project, co-designed by world renowned architect Richard Meier and completed in 1997, is a leading art museum and home to research and conservation institutes. It is well-known for its collections of European paintings, Greek and Roman antiquities, and photographs.
J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles
Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP, New York
Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Co., San Francisco
EnglekirkPartners ConsultingStructural Engineers, Los Angeles
Perched atop a hill overlooking much of Los Angeles, the Getty Center is among the most recognized structures of modern L.A. architecture.
A sprawling compound of concrete, steel and travertine rock, the Getty Center is a world-class museum in a world-class city. But even with the scores of classic paintings and sculptures, the center gets as much attention for its monumental architecture as its art.
Greg Cosko, the 54-year-old chief executive of Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Co., oversaw the contracting of nearly every aspect during the center’s construction.
“Really, other than the restaurant silverware, we contracted, managed and supervised just about every physical element of the Getty Center, including the display cases, museum furniture and decorative arts galleries,” he said.
Having started with the company in 1975, the $1.2 billion Getty Center project proved to be a major turning point in his career. In 1996, after a half decade of work on the project, Cosko was chosen to lead the entire company.
“The experience of the project was a significant factor in my being appointed president,” he said.
A Pasadena native, Cosko now runs the company from its San Francisco headquarters, but comes back to Los Angeles every week. Cosko would not have it any other way. He joined the company out of San Francisco State University in the mid-1970s, lured by its ambitious work across California.
“What drew me to the company was its unique presence both in Los Angeles and San Francisco and its penchant for challenging and unique projects,” he said.
Indeed, throughout the years Cosko’s firm was involved in one big local project after another, including the Getty Villa in Malibu, Nestle’s Glendale headquarters and Amgen’s headquarters in Thousand Oaks.
And through these unique projects, both Cosko and his company have had a chance to prove their worth in the field.
“Construction is an entrepreneurial field with tremendous opportunity. You’re judged by what you build and how well you build it, you are rewarded commensurate with your efforts and it’s an industry that respects experience,” he said. “There is an intangible but well-rewarded demand for ingenuity, innovation and integrity.”
Among the company’s current and more recent local projects: Air Force One Pavilion at Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, 2000 Avenue of the Stars and George Lucas School of Cinematic Arts at USC.
– ARCHITECT: MICHAEL PALLADINO
Partner, Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP
Museums in Frankfurt, Germany, Atlanta and Des Moines, Iowa
“It was a commission of a lifetime. The Getty program was complex and multi-faceted.”
Schindler House, West Hollywood.
“The city could use more civic space designed for the public to gather and take advantage of our unique climate.”
“Through my experience in design and construction, I have recognized that architectural form emerges from a multiplicity of demands and rules that are both rational and irrational.”
– SUBCONTRACTOR, GARDENS: DENNIS C. MCGLADE
Principal and Managing PartnerOlin Partnership Ltd.
Queensway Park, Long Beach; Carneros Inn in Napa; Canary Wharf and Canada Square in London
“Designing plantings that would not damage the adjacent art works, that would look good and have interest throughout the year but that also have some seasonal change…and that complement the art works and not compete with them was a real challenge.”
“The Los Angeles Public Library, and the beautiful garden behind it.”
“It has occurred to me that there could be more exterior pedestrian spaces formed by buildings and graced by plantings, from which cars are mostly excluded.”
“Landscape architecture can be instrumental in healing much of the damage to the environment inflicted in the past and can be a powerful instrument in the prevention of similar environmental travesties in the future.”
– DEVELOPER: OHN P. DONOHOE
Head of Engineering and Maintenance, J. Paul Getty Trust
“The sheer size of the construction project was a challenge, as was coordinating all the work projects to ensure they were completed in such a manner that they timed with each of the contractors’ needs to move on to the next level.”
“Having been involved in the development of the center, I have a particular sense of responsibility in ensuring that everything we do stays true to the vision and pride that went into building and maintaining the center in the first place.”
– CONTRACTOR: GREG COSKO
President and Chief Executive Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Co.
Getty Villa, Malibu; Nestle Headquarters, Glendale; Sun America Tower; 2000 Ave. of the Stars, Century City
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Fox Plaza, Gas Company Tower
“We’d love to do another 50- to 60-story or taller Class A commercial high-rise building downtown.”
“We need more work from our L.A. architects. They have great vision; they know the city, our culture, our geography, our climate, our government and our resources.”