One of America’s most celebrated modern architects, Richard Meier’s work spans six exceptional decades. A member of the New York Five (along with Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, Charles Gwathmey and John Hejduk), Meier is renowned for his abstract aesthetic, exquisite sense of proportion, and marked preference for the colour white.
Richard Meier was born in 1934 in New Jersey, and graduated from Cornell University in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in Architecture. Despite the individuality of his style, he told Architectural Digest in 2013 that “You can’t escape the influence of architectural history,” naming several predecessors who have inspired his journey. Among them were classical architects Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini, both celebrated for their intricate Italian palaces and churches, as well as 20th-century pioneers Le Corbusier and Louis Khan.
After graduation, Meier joined Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the renowned firm that would later be responsible for both the Burj Khalifa skyscraper and the twisted Cayan Tower. Meier also worked for Marcel Breuer, who was one of the first creatives to apply modernist architectural techniques to domestic dwellings.
In 1963, Meier set up his own firm in New York and set to work. Early notable projects include the Smith House in Connecticut, a building that bears all the hallmarks of Meier’s now definitive style. In the early ’70s, the publication of a slim volume entitled ‘Five Architects’ by the group that would henceforth be known as the New York Five marked the start of Meier’s rise to international prominence.
Over the years he has achieved prestigious accolades including both the Pritzker Prize and the AIA Gold Medal. His firm, Richard Meier & Partners, has been responsible for a number of celebrated designs in destinations ranging from Meier’s native New Jersey to Taipei and Edinburgh. Iconic buildings designed by the firm include the Getty Center in Los Angeles, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Jubilee Church in Rome, all of which are characterised by pristine white façades and clean lines.
Richard Meier has also been instrumental in designing modernist residential properties. A notable example is the Douglas House on the shores of Lake Michigan, completed in 1973. The property is set into the side of a steep hill, and has the appearance of a futuristic monolith emerging from the trees. The slope is so steep that access to the house is from roof level.
The early Smith House in Connecticut provides another classic example of Meier’s aesthetic. The property is split into public and private sections, with large windows in the public section offering unrivalled views across Long Island Sound. The private section is shielded by an opaque wall. The Rachofsky House in Dallas, now a private museum, appears to float above a podium. Large windows at the rear of the property look over the swimming pool, while the front of the house is shielded by an opaque facade.
If you are interesting in investing in an exclusive modernist property, get in touch with Engel & Völkers. Our portfolio includes an array of architecturally interesting buildings in highly desirable locations. E&V represent properties in 39 countries across five continents, so wherever you are planning to buy, our local agents will be able to offer their expert assistance.