Architecture, Book review
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Richard Meier


If it is true that Ludwig Mies van der Rohe once said, “God is in the details,” it might be possible to say of Richard Meier’s architecture that God is in the numbers. More than any other contemporary architect, Meier has imposed a style that is almost invariably driven by grids and precisely calculated proportions. Nor are these arithmetical elements the only predictable components of his designs. And yet his work is far from being as sterile as its rigorous white demeanor might imply. Rarely completely open, Meier’s buildings are usually a symphonic arrangement of geometric volumes composed of solids, voids, and generous glazing alternating with closed surfaces. Closed on the entry side, open to the ocean or the landscape, separating private and public spaces, double height and more where the design allows, or rather imposes, Meier’s houses announce but do not summarize his approach to larger buildings. Smooth glazed or white enameled panels alternate, too, with louvered, articulated façades, not according to the architect’s whim, but rather in function to the program and the specific site.Why is white, the absence of color, Richard Meier’s choice? His own words answer this question best, explain the link between his method and his fundamental concerns, and betray a poetic nature:

“White is the ephemeral emblem of perpetual movement.White is always present but never the same, bright and rolling in the day, silver and effervescent under the full moon of New Year’s Eve. Between the sea of consciousness and earth’s vast materiality lies this ever-changing line of white.White is the light, the medium of understanding and transformative power.”

Perhaps the most significant word in this description is not “white” but “light.” Light floods through the best of Richard Meier’s buildings, bringing constant change to his architecture. Clouds moving across the sky, the cycle of the seasons, the arc of the sun, and the moon in the heavens, quintessential expressions of nature, transfigure his grids and white surfaces. Where there is no man-made color, the rising sun and blue sky infuse Meier’s forms with the authentic, ephemeral palette of the world. At night, artificial light makes his architecture glow from within, like a lantern in the blackness.

Meier makes no pretense to design “organic” architecture, rather he willfully places his designs in a more reflective context.When asked if his use of white geometric forms might not be considered a symbolic victory over nature, he says, “No. I think that it’s really a statement of what we do as architects, that what we make is not natural. I think that the fallacy that Frank Lloyd Wright perpetrated for many years had to do with the nature of materials. He claimed to use what are called natural materials, but the minute you cut down that tree and you use it in construction, it is no longer alive, it is no longer growing, it is inert. The materials we’re using in construction are not natural, they do not change with the seasons, or with the time of day. What we make is static in its material quality. Therefore, it’s a counterpoint to nature. Nature is changing all around us, and the architecture should help reflect those changes. I think it should help intensify one’s perception of the changing colors of nature, changing colors of the day, rather than attempt to have the architecture change.”

From his early days as one of the “New York Five,” Richard Meier has been a central figure in contemporary architecture; this updated 2013 trade edition of the XL version is published in the occasion of the firm’s 50th anniversary. With the Getty Center and more recent buildings such as the Jubilee Church in Rome, Meier has established a reputation for expanded the horizons of contemporary American architecture while maintaining his rigorously rational approach to design and detailing. Known for carefully conceived grid plans and frequent use of white, Meier is a master of light, space, and volume, able to adapt his style to very different circumstances and locations.

The entire span of Meier’s career is included in this exceptional volume, newly updated for this edition and created in close collaboration with the architect, and the eminent graphic designer Massimo Vignelli. This spectacular monograph displays Meier’s work in unprecedented size and brilliance, and features a preface by the noted Spanish architect Alberto Campo Baeza

See more at :

Images Courtesy: Taschen


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Courtesy of Kunal Rakshit here is a great review of our latest Richard Meier & Partners monograph with Taschen:

Posted by Richard Meier & Partners on Thursday, 20 August 2015


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