- Richard Meier
BiographyOne of the leading figures in the world of contemporary architecture, Richard Alan Meier (1934) graduated from the University of Ithaca in 1957. He continued his training until 1963, working at important companies and firms in New York, including Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) and Marcel Breuer.
The architect opened his own firm in New York in 1963 and his Pasadena office in 1986.
Today Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP has branches in New York and Los Angeles, and it is recognized as one of the leading benchmarks of modern architecture, having completed over 130 projects worldwide in the space of more than half a century.
In addition to about twenty important museums, it also boasts a wide range of buildings in different types and sizes: cultural structures, government offices, libraries and school buildings, company premises, hotels and, of course, private residences too.
The mission of the firm, geared to achieving beauty and elegance and improving quality of life, is based on classic, timeless aspects, created by researching the location, ensuring a clean, functional end product and making clever use of light.
Meier’s work has always been considered a prime example of “the new modernism of the late twentieth century” (Sacchi), containing self-confessed influences from the works of Le Corbusier. In fact, Richard Meier claims: “I couldn’t create my buildings without knowing and loving his works. Le Corbusier has had a huge influence on my way of creating space”.
Meier’s poetics are also deeply rooted in “Italian and Dutch rationalism”, thanks to which he achieves “formal solutions of sophisticated equilibrium” (Treccani).
However, throughout his long career, in which he also played a leading role with the Five Architects and as a university lecturer, his works have varied considerably.
A perfect example of this is the initial design phase of his residential projects; having reinterpreted the criteria of Gropius and Breuer in projects such as that of the Smith House in Darien (1967), years later he would go on to redevelop that same prototype of his in the monumental Douglas House design (1973), which contains clear references to the style of Frank Lloyd Wright.
He has attracted interest from critics for works such as “his own family home in Essex Fells (1965); Smith House in Darien, Connecticut (1965-67), which marks the beginning of a design process based on the juxtaposition of opposing, yet balanced components, such as form and structure, art and technique, and which introduces the theme of the memory, perceived as an invention (never abandoned by Meier); Hoffman House (1966-1967) and Saltzman House (1967-1969), both in East Hampton” (Domus).
The latter appears to be “the first manifesto of a highly plastic architecture, in which full rein is given to the antithetical division between full and empty, static and dynamic”.
While continuing to work in the residential sector, Meier can also claim to play a key role in the field of civil architecture, especially in large-scale projects.
His most important works in this sector have been in Europe, although they kicked off in the 1970s in the USA, where he created the Twin Parks Northeast residential complex in the Bronx (1969-1974), followed by the Bronx Developmental Center (1970-1977), built to host 750 children with disabilities, and the New Harmony Atheneum in Indiana (1975-79).
Meier has built many famous cultural institutions, such as the High Museum of Art in Atlanta (1980-1983), the Museum for the Decorative Arts in Frankfurt (1979-1985), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona (1987-1995); the Cultural Center in Ulm (1986-1993); the Museum of Ethnology in Frankfurt (1989-1996); the Municipal Building and the central library of La Hague (1986-1995) with their characteristic square and rectangular windows.
For over a decade, Meier worked at the Getty Center for the Arts and the Humanities (1984-1997), designing a 11-acre academic campus located in the hills of Los Angeles, which he completed at the end of the 1990s: it is described as a “miniature city, by far the most impressive single design of his career”.
The architect himself defined the work as “an emotional architecture: there’s no one space that defines the Getty. It depends on how you are feeling”.
And there are many other notable works worth a mention, such as the headquarters of Canal + in Paris (1988-92) and of Swissair in Melville, North America (1992-94); the Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly Hills (1994-96) and the Tor Tre Teste church in Rome (1996-2000).
This last work, named Church of the Year 2000, stands out for the splendid use of light which highlights a typical aspect of Meier’s production over the last few decades.
He has designed many residences over the last few years, including the Lido Hotel in Jesolo and the Seamarq Hotel in Gangneung (2015), villa ensembles in Gardone Riviera and Oxfordshire (2017) and the Montagnola residence in Lugano (2018). He has won many awards, including the Pritzker in 1984.
Richard Meier selected works and projects
- JEI Commercial Building, Gangnam (Corea del Sud), 2023
- Complesso residenziale, Stoccarda (Germania), 2021
- Oaks Prague Villas, Nebrenice (Repubblica Ceca), 2020
- Parkview Office Building, Praga (Repubblica Ceca), 2020
- 1 Waterline Square, New York (USA), 2019
- 685 First Avenue, New York (USA), 2019
- Edifici residenziali e direzionali Engel & Völkers, Amburgo (Germania), 2019
- Montagnola Residence, Lugano (Svizzera), 2018
- The Surf Club, Surfside, Florida (USA), 2018
- Torre Cuarzo on Reforma, Città del Messico (Messico), 2018
- Vitrvm, Bogotà (Colombia), 2018
- Xin-Yi Residential Tower, Taipei (Taiwan), 2018
- Cittadella Bridge, Alessandria (Italia), 2017
- Teachers Village, Newark, New Jersey (USA), 2017
- Residenza privata Flying Point , Southampton, New York (USA), 2016
- Harumi Residential Towers, Tokyo (Giappone), 2016
- Leblon Offices, Rio de Janeiro (Brasile), 2016
- Rothschild Tower, Tel Aviv (Israele), 2016
- Oaks Prague Apartments, Praga (Repubblica Ceca), 2015
- Seamarq Hotel, Gangneung (Corea del Sud), 2015
- Edie and Lew Wasserman Building - University of California, Los Angeles (USA), 2014
- Fire Island House, New York (USA), 2013
- Centro di Ricerca e Innovazione “i.lab”, Bergamo (Italia), 2012
- Progetto di sistemazione museale dell’Ara Pacis, Roma (Italia), 2006
- Biblioteca di Storia dell’Arte, Università di Yale (USA), 2005
- Museo Frieder Burda, Baden Baden (Germania), 2004
- Chiesa dell’Anno 2000, Roma (Italia), 2004
- Sede centrale Canon, Tokyo (Giappone), 2002
- Getty Center for the Arts and the Humanities, Los Angeles (USA), 1997
- Museum of Television and Radio, Beverly Hills (USA), 1996
- Museo di Etnologia, Francoforte (Germania), 1996
- Municipio e biblioteca centrale, L’Aia (Olanda), 1995
- Sede centrale della Swissair, Melville (USA), 1994
- Centro culturale, Ulm (Germania), 1993
- Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Barcellona (Spagna), 1993
- Sede della stazione televisiva di Canal Plus, Parigi (Francia), 1993
- Museo di Arti Decorative, Francoforte (Germania), 1985
- High Museum of Art, Atlanta (USA), 1984
- Seminario, Hartford (USA), 1981
- The Atheneum, New Harmony, Indiana (USA), 1979
- Bronx Developmental Center, Bronx, New York (USA), 1977
- Complesso residenziale Twin Parks Northeast, Bronx, New York (USA), 1974
- House in Pound Ridge, New York (USA), 1969
- Saltzman House, East Hampton, New York (USA), 1969
- Hoffman House, East Hampton, New York (USA), 1967
- Smith House, Darien, Connecticut (USA), 1967
- Meier House, Essex Fells, New Jersey (USA), 1965
- Lambert House, Fire Island, New York (USA), 1962
InterviewCasamonti: We are very happy that you are here, that you are an architect in Naples from today, and I want to show you our magazines Area and Materia, Italian magazines of Architecture.
Peek: Since you are our guest in Naples today, we would like to begin by asking you about the Italian influence on your work, from your stay at the American Academy in Rome to your recent projects in the city of Rome.
Richard Meier: The first time I came to Rome, in fact, was around 1959, and spent some time here.
Ever since that time I have travelled throughout Italy and spent one year, not the full year unfortunately, at the American Academy in Rome in '76 which was a time that was different than just travelling because you could stay in one place, go and look at things, and come back and think about it, and that was very important for me.
But it really wasn't until I began to have the opportunity to work here that I thought about that time and what it meant to me and maybe how subconsciously it influenced my thinking and that probably had more to do with the work of Borromini in terms of the quality of light, expression of structure, as expressed in an interior like Sant' Ivo Sapienza.
The scale of those buildings is also extremely important.
So, I think that when you travel and you look at things you don't necessarily make a one to one correlation at the time but things come back to you and in some way have an important influence on your work.
Of course the Italian Rationalists of the 30s have always interested me and I've had the opportunity to visit the work of Ridolfi and others that were amazing and very inspirational.
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