Richard Meier & Partners
By Jakob Harry Hybel
Few architects have retained such an uncompromising style throughout a more than five-decade-long practice, as Richard Meier. His snow-white facades with expansive windows, light-filled interiors, dynamic plays of interlocking geometries and a fine balance of solid and void have become his unmistakable trademarks.
Newark, New Jersey-born Richard Meier, received his Bachelor in Architecture from Cornell University in 1957 and took jobs with Skidmore Owings and Merrill and Marcel Breuer soon after his graduation, until starting up his own private practice in New York in 1963.
The practice started out primarily designing residential-scale buildings, such as the Douglas House and the Rachofsky House, but the project that would cause his rise to fame was the Getty Center – a complex of sculptural volumes and scattered pavilions on a hilltop site in the Santa Monica Mountains, which took 13 years to complete.
Meier – who, in 1984, at 49, became the youngest solo architect to win the Pritzker Prize – has since then designed primarily large-scale museums and civic buildings, most notably perhaps the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art and the furiously debated Ara Pacis Museum in Rome.
Despite his advanced age, the relentlessly productive Meier continues at full speed, most recently completing first stage of the masterplan for Teachers Village, an education center combined with middle and low-income housing – and the first project in his hometown of Newark.
Meier’s declared influences are Bernini and Borromini, in part – but also Alvar Aalto, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn. This divide between the Roman Baroque and 20th century Modernism goes a long way towards describing Richard Meier’s particular architectural style. Sculptural, yet restrained. Classical, yet modern. Timeless in both form and expression.