RICHARD MEIER

THE WHITE ARCHITECT
BIOGRAPHY :Starting Life
Born in Newark, New Jersey, on October 12, 1934, Richard Meier studied architecture at Cornell University, where he graduated in 1957. During a trip to Europe in 1959 he sought to join the office of his early idol, the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier. Although Meier was able to meet Le Corbusier in Paris, the master would not hire Meier, or any other American, at that time, since Le Corbusier believed that several major commissions throughout his career had been lost because of Americans. Meier returned to New York where he worked briefly for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and then for about three years with Marcel Breuer, a product of the German Bauhaus and former partner of Walter Gropius.

Painted Abstract Expressionism at Night
During his early career in New York Meier was an architect by day and Abstract Expressionist painter at night. For a period of time he shared a studio with his close friend Frank Stella. Meier eventually gave up painting to devote himself more fully to architecture, although he continued to work on collages occasionally.

Established Own Firm
In 1963 Meier left Breuer to establish his own practice in New York. From 1963 to 1973 he taught at Cooper Union in New York and was a visiting critic at a number of other institutions. He began to meet with a group called CASE (Conference of Architects for the Study of the Environment), whose discussions of each other's buildings and projects resulted in the 1972 book Five Architects, featuring the work of Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk, and Richard Meier. Despite Meier's assertion that this was never a unified group, the "New York Five" were identified with a return to the heroic early period of the European International Style, particularly the buildings of Le Corbusier during the 1920s and 1930s. Some writers attempted to recognize the "white," revitalized modern architecture of the "New York Five" as the opposite pole from the "gray" architecture of such post-modern architects as Robert Venturi, Charles Moore, and Robert A. M. Stern. However, by the early 1980s such a distinction seemed less clear-cut.

Gained Recognition as Architect
Meier first gained attention with his white and immaculate neo-Corbusian villas set in nature, such as his Smith House (1965-1967) at Darien, Connecticut. With its exterior walls of vertical wooden siding, this crisply composed, compact house is a modern New England house, following a genre established earlier by Gropius and Breuer. A central theme of Meier's is seen in the clear separation between t he enclosed, private rooms of the entrance front and the much more open main living area at the back, which is here organized into a tall vertical space, glazed on three sides, allowing a panoramic view of Long Island Sound. Meier stated that his "fundamental concerns are space, form, light, and how to make them." One of Meier's most striking residences is the Douglas House (1971-1973) at Harbor Springs, Michigan. Perched on a steep bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, this tall, vertically organized, white and machine-like villa is dramatically juxtaposed with the unspoiled greenery of its idyllic site. Meier preferred the purity of white, his favorite color, for most of his buildings. White boldly contrasts with nature, yet it constantly responds, through reflection, to surrounding colors and the changing quality of light. One of Meier's first major non-residential commissions was the Bronx Development Center (1970-1977) in New York for mentally and physically challenged children. Built on an unpromising site of wasteland between a parkway and railroad tracks, Meier chose to turn inward to a spatially rich courtyard. His approach to such an institution was to create "a city in microcosm." This was the first of Meier's buildings to be built with walls of metal panels. The silver tonality of these aluminum panels represented a temporary break for Meier away from his dominant white. The tour de force of Meier's work of the 1970s was the Atheneum (1975-1979) at New Harmony, Indiana. This visitors' and community center serves a village which was an early 19th-century utopian community, first for George Rapp and his Harmony Society, and later for Robert Owen and his Owenites. The building stands at the entrance to the town on a miniature, Acropolis-like, knoll near the Wabash River. Responding to both the grid of the town and the edge of the river, Meier designed his building on two overlapping grids skewed five degrees from one another. This resulted in an impression of spatial contraction and expansion by means of ramps and stairs in dramatic vertical spaces lit by abundant natural light. Meier reached a new level of complexity in his neo-Corbusian language, which went well beyond the more static and Classical sensibility of Le Corbusier himself. This Baroque manipulation of space and light through complex form was partially inspired by Meier's studies in 1973 as resident architect at the American Academy in Rome, where he was especially intrigued by the Baroque architecture of Italy and southern Germany. The Atheneum's walls are of porcelain-enameled panels of glistening white which will not weather and age like the temporarily clean walls of the original International Style. Despite the unrelenting modernity of such buildings as this, Meier's vocabulary was, in a sense, historicist. The ocean liner aesthetic of ramps, decks, nautical railings, and scrubbed white surfaces could no longer be associated with the latest in transportation, but only regarded as a nostalgic backward glance to the now grand dinosaurs of ocean travel of the early 20th century. Although the motifs of the International Style architectural revolution are revived, they no longer kindle the spirit of their corollary, a revolution to reform society. What Meier concentrated on was an intensification and enrichment of the forms of modern architecture in search of a moving use of light and space, as seen in such examples as the spiritually uplifting interior spaces of his Hartford Seminary (1978-1981) at Hartford, Connecticut.

Philosophy :Richard Meier designs are genearally intersecting planes. Meier has maintained a specific and unalterable attitude toward the design of buildings from the moment he first entered architecture. Although his later projects show a definite refinement from his earlier projects, he clearly authored both based on the same design concepts. With admirable consistency and dedication, he has ignored the fashion trends of modern architecture and maintained his own design philosophy. Meier has created a series of striking, but related designs. He usually designs white Neo-Corbusian forms with enameled panels and glass

. These structure usually play with the linear relationships of ramps and handrails. Although all have a similar look, Meier manages to generate endless variations on his singular theme. “Openness and clarity are characteristics that represents American Architecture at its best, and they are the princilles which I hope to bring to every design endeavor” “I believe that Architecture has the power to inspire, to elevate the spirit, to feed both the mind and the body. It is for me the most publics of the arts.”

“White is the most wonderful color because within it you can see all the colors of rainbow. The whiteness of white in never just white ; it is almost always transformed by light and that which is changing; the sky, the clouds, the sun and the moon” “When I am asked what I belive in, I say that I believe in Architecture. Architecture is the mother of the Arts. I like to believe that Architecture connect the present with the past and the tangible with intangible” “The way that light traverses and cuts through buildings is the interrogative and the principal magic from whence Richard Meier’s projects are born,”

and entrance areas are located on the open ground floor. Concept Located on a hillside. social. serve as anchor points for the house. Connecticut. and the extreme height contributes to the dramatization of the interior space. with small openings. The chimney is brick pillars and metallic interiors. a characteristic of his first houses. The reverse side is treated as a closed facade. SITE PLAN OF THE HOUSE THE SMITH HOUSE . the small reservoir cubic annex and the access ramp to the house. facing down the hillside. Meier worked at carving the house out of the basic cubic base with operations of addition and subtraction.THE SMITH HOUSE ARCHITECT: RICHARD MEIER Year(s) of construction: 1965-1967 Location: Darien. In some spaces. while the front is an open facade with large glass panels offering extensive views over the horizon. Based on an operation-style rationalism made popular by Le Corbusier. the height of the rooms in the front area can reach two or three stories. Spaces The architect organizes the floorplan by zoning. Materials wood and glass. when he was part of the group. that this house was built in concrete. The curved staircase that descends from the first floor to the ground. The Five Architects. being additions to the central cubic volume. geometrically arranged openings for windows to protect the occupants' privacy. United States The Smith House is part of a series of houses that marks the first rationalistic stage in the work of Meier. The social areas are all located toward the front of the house. when in fact it was made of wood. mistakenly. while the service. Structure It is often thought. where the large glass panes open laterally. in which category some critics have characterized the mannerist-principal of the cubic house. The bedrooms and private areas are located in the closed rectangular prism. the structure is a white prism that emerges between the trees and creating a strong visual contrast. The rear facade facing uphill is wrapped in opaque walls with only small.

PLAN OF THE HOUSE :- ENTRY LEVEL PLAN LOWER LEVEL PLAN UPPER LEVEL PLAN SECTION OF THE HOUSE :- CROSS SECTION LONGITUNAL SECTION STRUCTURAL VIEW OF THE HOUSE FROM ALL SIDES :- FRONT VIEW BACK VIEW RIGHT VIEW LEFT VIEW .