Richard Alan Meier is an American progressive modernist architect who got also known as an abstract artist. The 1984 Pritzker Prize winner was keenly interested in using geometric designs with open spaces and always emphasised light and flat white walls in most of his works.
Being born to a Jewish family, and while growing up with three kids, he chose architecture and got a bachelor’s from Cornell University in 1957. The traveler in him led him to work with many firms such as New York, Skidmore, Owings Merrill, and even with noted International styled firms such as Marcel Breuer. After starting his firm in 1963, he was highly praised for his Smith House in Darien. It was inspired by the modernism of Le Corbusier’s work in the 1920s and ’30s but was famously known as one of his white buildings. (Wikipedia,2013)
After the successful private residences, large public commissions were waiting for him; the first one causing worldwide attention was the Getty Center in Los Angeles, the sprawling museum complex completed in 1997. Other works such as the Atheneum (1979) in New Harmony, Indiana; the Museum of Decorative Arts (1985) in Frankfurt am Main, Germany; the High Museum of Art (1983) in Atlanta, Georgia; the City Hall and Library (1995) in The Hague, Netherlands; and the Museum of Contemporary Art (1995) in Barcelona, Spain.( Britannica,2022)
The Museum for Decorative Arts, Frankfurt, an L-shaped structure, was once an apothecary. The 1985 model contained works focused on design, fashion, and performance art, but it is well known for Meier’s signature use of natural light that floods the structure’s interior. (Allen,2016)
Completed in 1995, the media called the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art the Pearl because of its luminous exterior with concrete and white enamel-coated steel. Though the location of the buildings was known for its Gothic architectural context, this structure stood with a three-story atrium and smooth geometry for the Modernist architectural movement. (Allen,2016)
The structures built from 1979 to 95 had definite clarity on geometric order; they showcased curving ramps and railings and had a contrast between the light-filled, transparent public spaces and the solid white surfaces of interior, private spaces. They were literal translations of his goals in expanding modern movements by manipulating light form, volume, surface, scale, view, movements, and equilibrium of the structure. Amidst some criticism, these structures were welcomed for their purity though mixed up with forms of postmodernist architecture.( Britannica,2022)
His main focus Getty Centre of 1997, was a six principled building comprising the Getty collection and educational facilities; the centre is built of honey-coloured travertine complemented by aluminium panels. Positioned in the hills of Los Angeles, the Multipurpose project turned out to be a contrast of public and private spaces as it had complexes with public galleries to private study rooms. The cultural complex includes many fountains to provide ambient noise. Through this work, he explored the effects of light in private-public realms and the structure became a popular tourist destination. ( Britannica,2022)
From winning Pritzker to numerous awards from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and other architectural associations, Meier received the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale prize for architecture in 1997. (Allen,2016)
In 2003, the church of god the merciful father in Rome was completed, designed to regulate internal temperature by reflecting sunlight with distinctive walls that gently curve toward the building’s centre. Its concrete walls contained titanium dioxide that kept them pristine white and reacted with UV rays to break down air pollutants. (Allen,2016)
In 2004, Museum Frieder Burda, located in Baden-Baden, Germany, comprised of a private collection of art patrons, was complete. The incorporation of glass to its exterior made the structure bathe in sunlight and tagged itself as the ’Daylight Museum’. (Allen,2016)
The project, completed in 2005, with a circular library and an internal atrium, had pristine colour. So the City Hall and Central Library of The Hague, Netherlands, was nicknamed Ice Palace. Claded with porcelain-enamelled metal, the building also had space for the city council, stores, cafes, exhibitions, and weddings. (Allen,2016)
Completed in 2006, Rome’s Museum of the Ara Pacis, dedicated to Pax, the Roman goddess of peace, also had an altar of Augustus, although critics say it’s a name-sake altar. Using building materials such as steel, travertine, and glass, also contained exhibition space, a digital library, a café, and a rooftop terrace. (Allen,2016)
Opened in 2007, the flagship store of Peek & Cloppenburg in Dusseldorf, Germany, showcased its luxury goods with a sweeping glass façade. The retail space had an airy feel with a brise-soleil on the top floor and interiors were illuminated by incorporating a cylindrical skylight. (Allen,2016)
His 2008 project, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Center, turned out to be a home to visual arts program on the north campus of the University of California, Los Angeles. 2010 accompanied him with numerous commercial buildings, single homes, residential towers the extension to the Gagosian Gallery (2010), Beverly Hills, California; the United States Courthouse (2012), San Diego; and several buildings for Teachers Village (2017), Newark, New Jersey, a mixed-use complex comprising three charter schools, housing for teachers, and retail space. ( Britannica,2022)
Due to the allegations of sexual harassment from his co-workers, he took a break for a while. Although he denied it in several interviews, he apologized for offending anyone’s emotions. After which Meier’s office declared that he was stepping down from his leadership and in 2021 he announced his retirement with his firm named Meier Partners.(Britannica,2022)
Allen, Eric. “10 Eye-Catching Buildings by Richard Meier.” Architectural Digest, Architectural Digest, 21 Apr. 2016, https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/richard-meier-architecture.
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Richard Meier”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 8 Oct. 2022, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Richard-Meier. Accessed 8 May 2023.
Wikipedia. “Richard Meier.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 5 May 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Meier.