The Vision of Richard Meier

Taking inspiration from the best of Twentieth Century modernist architecture, Richard Meier created his own unique vision while remaining loyal to his own design ethic, regardless of the current architectural trends. According to Meier, “Architecture should not mimic but rather provide a counterpoint to the surroundings while still maintaining a relationship”1.

“Richard Meier was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1934,” 2 and studied architecture at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. In 1957 he graduated from Cornell with a Bachelor of Architecture degree.  Early in his career Meier worked for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and then with architect and designer, Marcel Breuer. Meier opened his own practice in 1963 at the age of twenty-nine.1 The architect became a member of the “New York Five,” a group of influential young architects that included “ Meier, Michael Graves, Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk, and Peter Eisenman (Meier’s second cousin)”3.

Rchard Meier circa 2000, phtotgrapher unknown.

Meier’s signature architectural forms are clean, bold, dramatic and white. “Early works included opulent homes that blurred the lines of art and architecture with bold geometric design”4. The Smith House, built in the mid-1960s in Darien, Connecticut, and the Douglas House (1971-73), in Harbor Springs, Michigan, exemplify this design philosophy.

Richard Meier, Douglas House, Harbor Springs, Michigan, (1973). Photograph Copyright, AIA.

Meier’s projects include “housing and private residences, museums, high-tech and medical facilities, commercial buildings and… major civic commissions…in the United States and Europe”5. Among Meier’s, iconic works are the High Museum in Atlanta (1980-1983); the Frankfurt Museum for Decorative Arts in Germany (1979–1985); The Atheneum in New Harmony, Indiana (1975–1979); the Getty Center in Los Angeles (1984–1997)5 and the Barcelona Museum of Decorative Arts (MACBA) (1987–1995). Artist Rita McBride consulted directly with the architect to restore MACBA’s “second floor to its initial and intentional state”6 for her recent show at the museum.

Richard Meier, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia (1983). Photo by Edwin Lunandy.

Meier has also designed furniture, dinnerware and other decorative household items. The first project in which furnishings designed by Meier were used extensively was in his 1977 renovation of the Aye Simons Reading Room in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum. Most of Meier’s furniture and high-end household products were produced in the 1980s and 1990s. In addition to furniture, the architect designed and marketed silverware, dinnerware, tea sets, sculpture and a telephone stand.3

Meier became the youngest person to win the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 1984, the same year his firm was awarded the commission for the Getty Center.1 In 1995 the architect was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 1997 received the AIA Gold Medal Award from the American Institute of Architects.  He is also a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.4

At age seventy-nine Meier continues to practice and lecture on architecture. Recent projects include the East River Master Plan that will include three residential towers along the FDR Drive between East 35th and East 41st streets; City Green Court in Prague, Czech Republic; luxury condominiums in Beverly Hills, California and private residences in Tokyo and Tianjin, China.4

  1. Minner, K., (January 20, 2011). AD Interviews: Richard Meier. ArchDaily.
  2., (n.d.). Biography: Richard Meier.
  3. KMP Furniture, LLC (2012). A Lifetime of Architecture and Modern Design - A Biography of Richard Meier.
  4. Richard Meier & Partners Architects, (n.d.). Richard Meier Biography.
  5. Famous Architects, (n.d.). Richard Meier : architect biography.
  6. 6. ArtDaily, (May 20, 2012). Rita McBride undresses the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona architecture.
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