Childhood & Early Life
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.
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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.
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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’.