AD Interviews: Richard Meier

Richard Meier, the architect who landed ‘the commission of the century’ and one of the New York Five, has a portfolio of pristine structures that range in scale from the Douglas House on Lake Michigan to the sprawling Getty Center in Los Angeles.

Meier’s work, recognizable and clearly defined by its whiteness, creates a distinction and dialogue between nature and man made.  Architecture to Meier should not mimic but rather provide a counterpoint to the surroundings while still maintaining a relationship.

“Whiteness is perhaps the memory and the anticipation of color. For me, the contrast becomes the definition that, which is natural, organic, changing, contains at different times, all of the colors of the rainbow. And that which is manmade should help to focus and intensify one’s perception of all that is around us.”

Passionate about the profession, Meier has also dedicated a lot of energies to architecture education. He strongly believes in the role of architecture in government, education, private practice, and our local communities. Noting that architects in governmental positions often have more influence than those in private practice, emphasizing an architect’s role in our local communities and through non-professional organizations.  All architects can provide a very influential role helping guide public policy.

Meier earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University in 1957, worked for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and then alongside Marcel Breuer before starting his own practice in New York in 1963. In 1969 MoMA exhibited work by the New York Five: Meier, Michael Graves, Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk, and Peter Eisenman (Meier’s second cousin). The members of the New York Five, ‘a group of architects whose work, represented a return to the formalism of early modern rationalist architecture’ over time pursued different formal directions, however the most prolific builder of the group, Meier, continued to investigate the true Corbusian form particularly through the built environment.

In 1984 Meier was awarded the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, the youngest recipient of this award in the history of the prize. That same year Meier garnered the prestigious commission for the $1 billion Getty Center in Los Angeles. Meier stated, “In my career, nothing can or will ever equal getting to be the architect for the Getty Center. Not only was it the most important event of my career, but as things worked out the project became inextricably inked with my children’s growing up.”

Richard Meier & Partners includes Michael Palladino, James R. Crawford, Reynolds Logan, Bernhard Karpf, Dukho Yeon. We featured partner Bernhard Karpf, who heads up many of the projects in Europe, in a video interview describing the design of the Arp Museum in Germany.

Along with the Pritzker Prize, Meier currently holds the Frank T. Rhodes Class of 1956 University Professorship at Cornell University, is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and has received the Medal of Honor (New York Chapter), Gold Medal (Los Angeles Chapter), 29 National AIA Honor Awards, 53 Regional AIA Design Awards.

Meier never stops: This past October he visited the 103 year old architect Oscar Niemeyer in Brazil, a meeting of 2 Pritzkers.

Projects by Richard Meier & Partners previously featured at ArchDaily:

About this author
Cite: Kelly Minner. "AD Interviews: Richard Meier" 20 Jan 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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