Richard Meier Biography
Sun Sign: Libra
Born in: Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
Famous as: Architect & Abstract Artist
Spouse/Ex-: Katherine Gormley
father: Jerome Meier
mother: Carolyn Kaltenbache
children: Ana Meier, Joseph Meier
U.S. State: New Jersey
education: 1957 - Cornell University
awards: Pritzker Prize (1984)
AIA Gold Medal (1997)
Richard Alan Meier is an American architect whose work of architecture is noted for its geometric patterns, rich spatial exposures with emphasis on light and a dominance of the use of white colour that gives the structures a pristine look. His works exemplify his variations and refinements on the principles of classic modernist architecture. The white sculptural pieces that he created initiated a new language of designs in the1980s. He is the preeminent figure of the ‘New York Five’, a group of five architects of New York City that include Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk, Peter Eisenman and Michael Graves. One of his earlier works that received critical acclaim was the ‘Smith House’ in Darien, Connecticut and later he drew attention for his spectacular work of ‘Douglas House’. His successful endeavours in building private residences earned him several commissions like the ‘the Museum of Decorative Arts’ in Frankfurt, Germany; the ‘Museum of Contemporary Art’ in Barcelona, Spain; ‘Atheneum’ in New Harmony, Indiana, US and ‘Getty Center’ in Los Angeles, California. He has received several awards from various architectural associations including many from the ‘American Institutes of Architects’ (AIA).
- He was born on October 12, 1934 in Newark, New Jersey, in a Jewish family to Jerome Meier and Carolyn Kaltenbacher as the eldest of their three sons.
- Architect and theorist Peter Eisenman is his second cousin who is also a member of the ‘New York Five’.
- He was raised in nearby suburban township of Maplewood where he studied at the ‘Columbia High School’.
- In 1957 he completed his ‘Bachelor in Architecture’ from ‘Cornell University’ in Ithaca, New York and thereafter toured many countries including Germany, Italy, France, Greece, Denmark and Israel in pursuit of developing network with fellow architects.
- In 1959, while touring Europe, he tried to get a job in the office of his early inspiration Le Corbusier, the renowned Swiss-French architect, and also met Corbusier in Paris, but since Corbusier would not hire any American, he was rejected.
- He returned to New York and joined Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in 1959, where he worked for a while. Thereafter he worked for three years with Marcel Breuer, a ‘Bauhaus’ educated modernist architect who was a protégé and ex-partner of Walter Gropius.
- While he worked as an architect during the day time, at night he used to delve into abstract expressionist paintings. He also shared a studio with painter Frank Stella, one of his close friends. However later he had to dedicate more time to architecture and could occasionally work on collages.
- In 1963, he set up his own office in New York. He also started teaching at ‘Cooper Union’, which he continued till 1973. He also remained a visiting critic at many institutions.
- Two of his earlier works that got him critical acclaim and significant attention are the ‘Smith House’ (1965–67) in Darien, Connecticut and ‘Douglas House’ in Harbor Springs, Michigan (1971-73). While the former is first white building, the latter is a quintessential illustration of his style of work.
- His interactions with the ‘Conference of Architects for the Study of the Environment’ (CASE) group that included discussions of each other’s works resulted in a book, ‘Five Architects’ in 1972. It included works of Michael Graves, Peter Eisenman, Charles Gwathmey, Richard Meier and John Hejduk. Later that year, he was recognised as a member of the modernist architects group, ‘New York Five’ that included the same set of architects.
- Apart from designs of several residences his early works such as ‘The Atheneum’ (1979) in New Harmony, Indiana; the ‘High Museum of Art’ (1983) in Atlanta, Georgia and ‘Museum für angewandte Kunst’ (1985) in Frankfurt, Germany also fetched him much recognition.
- As he gained more popularity, he started receiving a number of commissions over the years. These include museums, city halls, educational buildings, hotels, libraries, cultural facilities, private residences, industrial research complexes and government offices.
- ‘Richard Meier & Partners’ is a renowned brand today in the field of architecture and has successfully executed several commissions from both private as well as public sectors for over five decades. The partners of the firm headed by Richard Meier include James R. Crawford, Dukho Yeon, Michael Palladino, Vivian Lee, Reynolds Logan and Bernhard Karpf. It has offices in New York and Los Angeles.
- Some of his notable works during the 90s are ‘Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art’ (1995) in Spain; ‘City Hall and Central Library’ (1995) in The Hague, Netherlands; ‘Paley Center for Media’ (1996) in Beverly Hills, California; ‘Getty Center (1997) in Los Angeles, California and ‘White Plaza’ (1998) in Basel, Switzerland.
- In 1992, the government of France bestowed upon him the honour of ‘Commander of Arts and Letters’.
- He continued to execute remarkable architectural designs in the 21st century that saw him deliver some of his excellent works. These include the ‘West Village’ (2002) in Manhattan; Jubilee Church (2003) in Rome, Italy; ‘City Tower’ (2004-07) in Prague, Czech Republic; ‘San Jose City Hall’ (2004-07) in San Jose, California and ‘Weill Hall’ (2008) in Ithaca, New York among several others.
- Some of the current projects he is involved are a hotel complex in Jesolo, Italy; residential projects in Bodrum, Turkey; two residential towers in Tokyo, Japan; a residential tower in Tel Aviv, Israel; Offices in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and a resort in South Korea.
- He is member of ‘Board of Trustees’ of several institutes and organisations including ‘Cooper-Hewitt Museum’, the ‘American Academy of Arts and Letters’ and the ‘American Academy’ in Rome.
- He is among ‘Board of Directors’ of many prestigious art and architectural academies and institutes. These include ‘American Academy of Arts & Sciences’, ‘American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters’, ‘International Institute of Architects’, ‘Cornell University Alumni Council’, ‘French Academy of Architecture’ and ‘Belgian Royal Academy of Art’.
- He is recipient of many honorary degrees that include institutes and universities such as the ‘Pratt Institute’, ‘North Carolina State University ‘, ‘University of Naples’, ‘University of Bucharest’ and ‘The New School for Social Research’.
- Meier is a Fellow of the ‘American Institute of Architects’ and Honorary Fellow of the ‘Royal Institute of British Architects’, the ‘Bund Deutscher Achitekten’ and the ‘Royal Incorporation of Scottish Architects’.
- His major work remains the ‘Getty Center’ in Los Angeles in which he was involved for over a decade from 1985 to 1997. The multi-purpose compound consists of six main buildings including ‘Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities’, ‘Getty Conservation Institute’, public galleries and private study rooms. The project gave him scope to delve into the contrasting private and public spheres simultaneously, keeping a balance between the two.
- The effects of lights were best explored by him at the ‘Getty Centre’, which has been constructed with honey-coloured travertine and is positioned in the hills of Los Angeles. The designs of the compound reflect inclination towards Classical architecture. Today it has become one of the most popular tourist spots in Los Angeles.
- His outstanding body of work earned him Gold Medal from the ‘Royal Institute of British Architects’ and also from the ‘American Institute of Architects’.
- He also received the ‘Praemium Imperiale’ from the ‘Japan Art Association’.
- He received Pritzker Prize in 1984.
- In 2013, he was awarded the A+ Lifetime Achievement Award
- In 2010, Cornell established a new professorship named for Meier.
- Richard Meier got married to architect Katherine Gormley but the couple got divorced later.
- The couple had two children together - Ana Meier and Joseph Meier.
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