Search results for "Richard Meier"

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Massimo Vignelli, 1931-2014
Marco Zannini

Designer Massimo Vignelli, born January 10, 1931, in Milan, Italy, died peacefully in his New York City home on May 27, 2014. One of the world’s most consistent supporters of a modernist approach to design, architecture, and life, Vignelli was widely known for his work on signs and diagrammatic maps of the New York subway; the identity for American Airlines; and for a vast array of publications, signage, products, and furniture for clients including the U.S. National Park Service, Knoll, Heller, Artemide, Casigliani, Feudi di San Gregorio, Ducati, and the British GNER Railway. He worked in tandem with his wife Lella for most projects, particularly on interiors such as Saint Peter’s Church and SD26 Restaurant in Manhattan, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and Poltrona Frau showrooms in Italy and the U.S.

Many people list award-winning artifacts as Vignelli’s most meaningful legacy, but these products and projects were a tangible result of his intent to make the world a better, more organized place. Vignelli’s unwavering belief in design as a tool to benefit society grew naturally from his childhood. Familial stresses and the political upheaval as Italy was torn apart in World War II disrupted his schooling and when he was 15, life was further confused by the untimely death of his father. Vignelli first became aware of furniture and architectural design thanks to a family friend and this provided a meaningful focus for his intellect and skills as he excelled in studio and art history courses.

He furthered his education as an avid reader of Domus and international design magazines. Assisting a cousin who was studying architecture brought him into the studios of Italy’s leading modernist architects; the views of Ernesto Nathan Rogers and Giancarlo de Carlo on life and work strongly influenced the young Vignelli. Issues of politics, economics, and war raised ethical and societal questions and led to his self-directed search for answers. At that time, Vignelli’s learned distrust of the inequities of capitalism and of America was contradicted by his interest in innovations in American architecture and by the fact that many Bauhaus masters had resettled in the U.S.

In 1950, Vignelli enrolled in the architecture program at Politecnico di Milano. For a time, he rented a room to Swiss designer Max Huber, who became his mentor for graphic design and typography. In 1951, he was a student volunteer at an architectural conference on Lake Como. There he met Elena (Lella) Valle, who accompanied her architect father to the conference. Lella would become his wife (in 1957) and lifelong business partner. Later, both would study architecture at the University of Venice.   

In 1957, Massimo earned a fellowship at Towle Silversmiths and the Vignellis moved to Massachusetts. Lella continued her studies at MIT. The couple traveled across the US; while visiting Chicago, Massimo was offered a teaching position at the Institute of Design and a part-time position in design research at Container Corporation. The Vignellis stayed in Chicago until their visas expired in 1960, when they returned to Milan and opened their own design office. During this time, Massimo defined a language of visual form that would provide the foundation for his entire career.

In 1965, Vignelli was a co-founder of the short-lived Unimark International; through this position he became influential in establishing a comprehensive approach to American corporate identity and in promoting the widespread use of the Helvetica typeface. Unimark brought the Vignellis to New York, but in 1971 he abruptly resigned from the company to form Vignelli Associates with Lella. From that time, their firm continued under their leadership along with a second company, Vignelli Design (for licensed products). Their showcase office was on Tenth Avenue from 1984 to 2000, then the Vignellis downsized their business and moved to their home office.

Massimo fulfilled a lifelong goal by actively working until his final days. Vignelli clients often became Vignelli friends. His love of architecture resulted in some of his favorite projects as he designed books for and developed close friendships with many architects, including Richard Meier, Harry Seidler, Peter Eisenman, and Tadao Ando.

Vignelli’s constant battle against mediocrity, obsolescence, and the consequent deterioration of society itself lasted through his lifetime. His impassioned embrace of an engaged life came with a ready smile, quick wit, raised eyebrows, and a nimble mind, but he also aimed sharp criticism at anyone whose work failed to meet his strict standards. “There is no design without discipline. There is no discipline without intelligence,” he said. This led him to a lifetime of teaching, sharing, and explaining ideas and methods with consistency, clarity, and patience to clients and designers alike. He was active in several professional organizations during his career, serving as president of Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) and of AIGA, as vice president of The Architectural League, and as member of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA).

Massimo Vignelli’s most meaningful legacy was relationships. He was a designer—a builder—not simply of materials, but of ideas and of people. Besides visiting and lecturing for many schools and organizations, he began offering a series of Master Designer Workshops through the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). In 2010, the Vignellis donated their archives to RIT. The archives are housed in a Vignelli-designed building with exhibition and teaching spaces. “The Vignelli Center is not only the building and the archives, but it is sharing our philosophy of the importance of design theory, history, and criticism,” he said.

Massimo Vignelli is survived by his wife Lella, daughter Valentina, and son Luca. His final days were honored by an outpouring of mail, thanks to Luca’s suggestion of a “Dear Massimo” letter-writing campaign. Hundreds of letters arrived from those who felt Massimo’s influence. Some were witty, some serious, but all expressed gratitude and support to the mentor who touched their lives and work in a meaningful way. It was a final reward and a warm tribute to Massimo Vignelli, whose great desire was “to rid the world of ugliness.”

 

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To Preserve and Develop
Richard Meier's luxury condos outside the Greenwich Village Historic District.
Peter Mauss/Esto

“Is Landmarking Out of Control?” That was the question posed by Crain’s New York at a forum it hosted in mid-May. To answer that noticeably leading question, Crain’s invited some of the biggest names in the city’s preservation and development worlds to hash it over coffee and pastries at the New York Athletic Club in Midtown.

The debate played out along familiar lines: The pro-development side—Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) President Steven Spinola, Columbia University professor Kenneth Jackson, and Nikolai Fedak of the blog NY YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard)—said that landmarking has its place, but New York should focus more on its potential for growth than its picturesque past. Jackson made that case in more explicit terms, saying that “history is for losers,” “no one comes to New York to look at buildings,” and “if you’re more comfortable with fish, trees, and aging houses, move to Vermont.”

On the other side of the debate were Peg Breen, the president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy and Ronda Wist, the vice president of preservation at the Municipal Art Society (MAS), who explained how historic districts create a vibrant, livable city that creates jobs, attracts tourists, and increases property values.

This type of preservationist versus developer back-and-forth is not new—these battles have been waged over the streets of New York for years. But, now, as Mayor de Blasio sets out to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing, the issue of landmarking—specifically, the designation of historic districts—has become a flashpoint in the debate over the city’s affordability crisis.

So, when exactly, did the landmarking process supposedly get “out of control?” A quick look at the numbers shows it happened under Mayor Bloomberg. Yes, as glass towers were rising and megaprojects were being approved, “pro-development” Bloomberg was designating more historic districts than any mayor since the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) was founded in 1965. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg added or extended 41 historic districts—topping Giuliani’s designations by 23 and Koch’s by 14. More than half of those designations were in outer boroughs.


Map of New York City with historic districts in orange.
AN / NYC.GOV
 
 

Near the end of Bloomberg’s three terms, REBNY started issuing studies on the impact of all this landmarking. In July, the Board found that nearly 28 percent of Manhattan properties were landmarked; a subsequent press release declared: “Excessive Landmarking of Manhattan Properties Stifling Economic Growth.” To arrive at that figure, REBNY counted both historic districts and specific landmarked buildings in its calculation. Four months earlier, the Journal reported that historic districts, by themselves, only encompassed 10 percent of the island and two percent of the city overall. REBNY now puts that latter figure closer to four percent.

In September, REBNY was out with another study; this time it claimed that no affordable units had been created on landmarked properties in the borough since 2008. “Landmarking Curtails Affordable Housing Development in Manhattan,” read the press release.

And then in June—with a new mayor in town—the same argument. The latest study, which encompassed the entire city, found that only 0.29 percent of new affordable units built from 2003 to 2012 were on landmarked properties.

This finding was immediately dismissed—and mocked—by the Historic Districts Council. “[REBNY] is at it again,” said the Council in a statement. “The crisis in affordable housing… is not a landmarking issue; this is a deeper indictment of the real estate market to provide for the needs of New Yorkers and the subtle failure of government to guide market forces to help meet that need.”

A spokesperson for the LPC told AN, “the Commission is currently reviewing the findings in the REBNY Report.”

When asked about landmarking’s impact on affordability, preservationists tend to reject the notion outright. Since landmarked properties represent such a small percentage of the city overall, they say historic designation has little—if anything—to do with the city’s housing crisis, and question REBNY’s seriousness about wanting to create affordable housing. Laurie Beckelman, the chair of the LPC under Mayors Dinkins and Giuliani, said REBNY’s claims on this issue are a “cheap shot” and “total rubbish.”

Fifteen of the city’s top developers did not respond to AN’s request for comment for this story, but REBNY spokesperson Jamie McShane, said, “we are working with the de Blasio administration and other stakeholders on how to address the need for more housing, particularly affordable units. Responsible landmarking is one issue of many in addressing that need.”

As this debate plays-out, the Board is quick to tout its support for Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing plan. “Mayor de Blasio deserves a lot of credit for putting forward an honest plan that attemptsto deal with the housing needs for all New Yorkers. [The plan] identifies the problems and provides a realistic roadmap for solutions,” said REBNY president Steven Spinola. “[The Board] thanks the mayor for his commitment to this issue and we will continue our work with the administration to implement these critical objectives.”

Upper West Side/Central Park historic district.
Scott Loftesness/Flickr
 

The plan, however, does not touch the issue of landmarking. In 115 pages, the word “landmark” only tangentially comes up in a footnote and in the glossary. And that is partially because the mayor is not targeting the West Village’s brownstones or Soho’s cobblestones to build his 80,000 new units of affordable housing. And the industrial and under-used areas he is eyeing to rezone for residential use are not being considered for historic designation.

To achieve his ambitious goal within 10 years, de Blasio is launching a multipronged approach that also includes mandatory inclusionary zoning, raising taxes on vacant lots to encourage development, and reevaluating Bloomberg’s land lease plan to build on New York City Housing Authority property. The mayor has also been packing more affordable units into Bloomberg-era developments like the Domino Sugar Factory and Atlantic Yards.

But even with these new, permanently affordable units—and the many more market-rate apartments slated to rise alongside them—New York City will still be a very expensive place to live in a decade’s time. The city cannot, and will not, stop building; most everyone agrees that freezing construction would only make matters worse. But there is plenty of debate about how much the city should build, where it should do so, and if supply can ever meet demand.

The bigger question, then, is: Can New York City build its way out of the affordability crisis?

“It is impossible,” said Jaron Benjamin, the executive director of the Metropolitan Council on Housing, a housing advocacy group based in New York. “We do not have billions and billions of dollars to throw at this problem. We have to think creatively.” Benjamin supports new development, but wants the city and state to focus on ways to preserve the apartments that are currently affordable.

And that is exactly what the mayor’s plan does. Because while de Blasio’s pledge to build new affordable units, and increase the city’s overall housing stock, has received the most attention, it gets him less than halfway to his goal of 200,000 units. The bigger piece of the plan is focused on preserving affordable units, about 120,000 of them. The details on how, exactly, he plans to do this are less clear, but the mayor’s office has said that city agencies will “use every tool at their disposal” to protect rent-stabilized units from being deregulated.

This is where the LPC believes it can aid in de Blasio’s efforts. “Since historic districts are also home to affordable housing units, the LPC will work with the Department of Housing Preservation & Development to align efforts to preserve both affordability and architectural character in these areas,” said a spokesperson for the Commission. “The LPC also understands that the city must continue to grow while maintaining a judicious approach to designation of historic properties.”

Andrew Berman—the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and one of REBNY’s most vocal critics—readily admits that landmarking is not the way, or even a way, to build new affordable units. But he believes that landmarking can be a tool to preserve rent-stabilized units that still exist in some of the most coveted zip codes in the world. “[Landmarking] can slow down the pushing out of long-term tenants and the disappearance of existing affordable housing because of anti-demolition protections,” said Berman.

He also pushed back on the “strong correlation” that REBNY drew between high incomes, limited racial diversity, and Manhattan’s historic districts in its July study. “We are talking about parts of the city that are, for the most part, some of the most distinctive, historic, and architecturally interesting,” he said. “They are naturally going to be places that are likely to have become more expensive, not because they are landmarked, but because they have these qualities that people find increasingly desirable.”

Unleashing development in, or around, historic districts, he said, would not necessarily lead to more affordable units; it could build a foundation for luxury condos that lift prices higher. He points to the glass towers lining the Hudson River, just outside of the Greenwich Village historic district, as glossy examples.

But in the debate over the future of landmarking, something resembling common ground starts to appear in terms of the process itself. The LPC’s approval procedures for new projects in historic districts—and renovations on landmarked properties—has been criticized by many for being too slow and overly expensive for property owners.

Peg Breen made clear to AN that the landmarking process is not broken, but that it could be improved. And to do that, she said, the LPC’s budget should be increased. “[The Commission] is woefully understaffed and overworked,” she said. “It needs an adequate staff to handle the load, and they do not have that now.”

Whether that will happen is entirely unknown—as are most aspects of landmarking under Mayor de Blasio. The big question hanging high above any concerns about process or funding is what’s next? On preservation, will de Blasio be another Bloomberg?

Six months into the mayor’s term, that remains a question neither side can answer. And de Blasio’s selection of Meenakshi Srinivasan to head the LPC provides few clues about the future of landmarks in New York City. The choice of the then-chair of the Board of Standards and Appeals surprised most onlookers when it was announced in May.

While landmarking is not expected to have an extensive impact in the affordable housing plan, in the coming months and years, the LPC could have a direct role in shaping New York City’s skyline. If the controversial Midtown East Rezoning plan is adopted, and taller towers head for the sky, the Commission will help decide the fate of the area’s older stock.

It could also adopt a proposal from a group called “Iconplans,” which would upend the selling of air rights. As the Journal reported, the group’s plan allows non-profits, universities, and religious institutions to sell air rights above their landmarked properties to developers who could use them elsewhere in the city—likely places where they can build taller. Currently, those air rights can only be transferred to adjacent sites. The LPC told AN it would consider this type of proposal. “As the administration continues to develop its housing and economic development policies, the expanded sale of air rights will be a relevant part of the discussion, which will occur across agencies,” said the LPC spokesperson.

Now, with the mayor’s housing plan in effect and the Commissioner in her new role, preservationists and developers are eagerly waiting for the Commission to answer that same question posed by Crain’s back in May: “Is Landmarking Out of Control?”

Its response could transform the city.

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Herzog & de Meuron's undulating concrete grid to rise along New York City's Hudson River
Ian Schrager and Herzog & de Meuron are at it again. Just weeks after renderings appeared for the team’s Lower East Side boutique hotel, images of the prolific hotelier and Swiss architects’ condo project in the West Village have surfaced. Real estate blog NY YIMBY received renderings for 357 West Street, which show a curving, 12-story building that will become the latest addition to a corridor crowded with starchitecture. The structure resembles much of Herzog & de Meuron’s recent work in the city, as it is clad in concrete and glass. These materials are being used at 215 Chrystie and 56 Leonard—the firm’s Tribeca tower, which looks like a dangerous game of Jenga. A tipster told YIMBY that the 357 West Street contains 88 units and is expected to open in 2017. Herzog & de Meuron’s building will be in good starchitect company over on Manhattan’s western waterfront, which includes—or will soon include—works by Morris Adjmi, Helmut Jahn, Jean Nouvel, Shigeru Ban, Richard Meier, Renzo Piano, and Frank Gehry.
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Saturday in Los Angeles> Bid on a custom Archpaper skateboard by Bureo at the A+D Gala
What do you get when you cross an innovative eco-conscious startup with your favorite source for architecture and design news? A custom upcycled skateboard designed by Bureo in AN’s logo colors. The board will be up for auction at A+D Museum’s CELEBRATE gala Saturday, June 28, part of the Los Angeles Design Festival. Headquartered in Santiago, Chile, Bureo manufactures plastic skateboards using fishnets collected in a local recycling program called Net Positiva. The company’s name comes from the Mapuche word for “waves,” and refers both to the ocean and to the hope that their small-scale intervention might lead to broader change. After a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign this spring, Bureo is preparing to ship its first model, the fish-shaped Minnow, beginning in August. For a shot at Bureo’s bespoke AN surfboard, purchase tickets to the CELEBRATE gala here. Other architects and artists creating skate and surf boards for the gala include Greg Lynn/Form, Karim Rashid, Erhlich Architects, Tom Wiscombe Architecture, Neil Denari Architects, and Richard Meier & Partners, to name a few.
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Want to Motor-Bike With Brad Cloepfil? Van Alen Has You Covered
10-van-alen-auction This Wednesday, the Van Alen Institute is throwing their very first Spring Party in New York City. Tickets to the benefit, taking place at the High Line Hotel, are still on sale, with a variety of price points from a standard party ticket to the high roller "Beaux-Arts Benefactor" costing $25,000. Happening alongside the party, Van Alen has partnered with Paddle8 for an auction of architectural experiences, and some of the world's biggest names—from Iwan Baan to Richard Meier to Brad Cloepfil—have volunteered to potentially spend a little bit of their time with you. Swooning at the opportunities abounding in the auction, AN has rounded up ten of our favorite experiences up for auction we'd love to try. Some of the more quirky lots up for bid include rummaging around Rem Koolhaas' basement, Michael Sorkin's whirlwind 20-minute tour of Manhattan, waking up for a 3:00a.m. breakfast with Hans Ulrich Obrist, and a Skype chat with Aaron Betsky. Each of these experiences carries an estimated value of priceless, so get over to Paddle8 (or download the app), and bid away to support the also-priceless Van Alen Institute. Bid early and often, as the auction ends on Friday, May 23. 01-van-alen-auction Philip Johnson Glass House tour with Henry Urbach According to Van Alen:
Channel the puckish spirit of Philip Johnson, for an afternoon at least: Director Henry Urbach invites you and three guests on a private tour of the Philip Johnson Glass House and its 49-acres of beautiful grounds. This National Trust Historic Site was created to be a catalyst for the preservation and interpretation of modern architecture, landscape, and art, and as you explore the house and grounds, Urbach will explain the place's history and evolution.
Bid on the experience here. 08-van-alen-auction Private helicopter ride with Iwan Baan According to Van Alen:
Get a bird's eye-view of an important new building with architectural photographer Iwan Baan, who will take you on a private helicopter ride during one of his upcoming shoots, currently planned for Los Angeles, Paris, New York, or Chicago. Afterwards, join Baan for a private walk-through of the project being photographed; you're likely to be one of the very first visitors.
Bid on the experience here. 09-van-alen-auction Hudson Valley hike with Rafael de Cárdenas According to Van Alen:
Sometimes you need to leave New York City for a little while to remember why you love it so much. Escape city life for a day with architect Rafael de Cárdenas as he takes you to breakfast and then on a hike in New York's Hudson Valley. Discuss architecture and design with de Cárdenas as you explore this beautiful landscape; he may even take you to his favorite secret waterfall.
Bid on the experience here. 07-van-alen-auction Oregon motorbike tour with Brad Cloepfil According to Van Alen:
What could be better than a motorcycle tour of Oregon Wine Country? Going on that tour with architect Brad Cloepfil, whose firm Allied Works is deeply influenced by the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. Together you'll sample the area’s finest Pinot Noirs at four distinct wineries, and go on a private tour and tasting at Sokol Blosser Winery's new tasting room, an elegant Allied Works building tucked away in the hills.
Bid on the experience here. 06-van-alen-auction Discover architecture in Rwanda with Sharon Davis According to Van Alen:
What does the future look like for 300 Rwandan women? Full of potential, thanks to the Women's Opportunity Center, designed by architect Sharon Davis. Join her on a private tour of this extraordinary complex that is allowing women to grow their own food, raise their own animals, and use traditional African crafts to earn financial independence and rebuild their lives after war. The series of clustered pavilions is organized in the same way as a traditional Rwandan village, and uses bricks made on site, retained earth walls, and cooling green roofs.
Bid on the experience here.   11-van-alen-auction Milanese dinner at home with Paola Antonelli According to Van Alen:
Ever wonder how a design visionary chooses the objects and furniture that surround her? Find out when MoMA curator Paola Antonelli, who has developed some of the most compelling and trenchant exhibitions of design and its role in every aspect of our culture, invites you and three guests to her apartment for a home-cooked Milanese meal. Discuss everything from culinary traditions and the tools that have grown up around them to the issues and ideas on her radar right now.
Bid on the experience here. 03-van-alen-auction Cocktails and Model Museum tour with Richard Meier According to Van Alen:
How does one of the defining minds of contemporary architecture like his cocktail? You'll find out after Richard Meier himself leads you and two friends on a private tour of the newly-opened Richard Meier Model Museum, where he displays a career-spanning collection of architectural models and an exhibition of his sketches, renderings, photographs, and sculptures. After the tour, the four of you will head to Meier's favorite bar for cocktails and conversation.
Bid on the experience here. 04-van-alen-auction Tour of Eero Saarinen's Bell Labs with Alexander Gorlin According to Van Alen:
The Bell Labs complex in Holmdel, New Jersey, is revered by architects and research scientists alike: The Eero Saarinen-designed complex is famed for its mirrored curtain wall, innovative plan, and role as the site of Nobel Prize-winning research in laser cooling technology. Architect Alexander Gorlin takes you on a private tour of this mid-century hub of technological ingenuity that he is restoring and transforming into a mixed-use town center with housing, retail, and a wellness center for the surrounding community.
Bid on the experience here. 05-van-alen-auction Architecture, art, and food in Seoul with the Kukje Gallery According to Van Alen:
Are you curious about the dynamic and burgeoning Korean art scene? Seoul's Kukje Gallery is at its very heart, and since its founding in 1982 has been one of Asia's leading exhibition centers. The newest gallery space there is K3, a pavilion designed by architects Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu of SO-IL. A Kukje director will give you and three guests a private tour of this striking new space, and afterward, enjoy dinner for four at the renowned Café at Kukje Gallery.
Bid on the experience here. 10-van-alen-auction Preliminary furniture sketch from Freecell Architecture According to Van Alen:
Do you have an idea for amazing piece of furniture, or have a room that needs a custom piece? Take a trip to Freecell Architecture, a Brooklyn-based 3-D installation, design, and furniture studio, where they will work with you to take your rough idea and transform it into a buildable design. Whether that is a desk that folds into seating, a table with glowing electroluminescent surface, pneumatic seating with built-in-technology, or something as-yet undreamt, these skilled designers will create drawings for you that are elegant, precise, and entirely your own.
Bid on the experience here.
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Meier Looks Back and Forward
The new model museum is four times larger than its previous incarnation in Long Island City.
Steven Sze

With a career spanning more than 50 years, Richard Meier has a remarkable and ever expanding body of work. Architects, students, or the general public can now explore the process behind his architecture at the just opened Richard Meier Model Museum in Jersey City, New Jersey.

In addition to the 400 or so models, the facility also includes more than 200 architectural drawings (a small fraction of the firm’s archive), as well as sculptures and art from Meier’s personal collection, and more than 1,000 books and periodicals. The standouts of the Museum are a pair of models, 18 and 27 feet across, of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. “It’s interesting to see how the project evolved over twelve years,” Meier told AN. “It’s very gratifying to me.”

 
 

The new incarnation of the Model Museum is more than four times the size of its previous space in Long Island City, Queens. Located at Mana Contemporary, a massive art studio and storage facility in an old industrial complex, it also includes a showroom for Richard’s daughter Anna Meier’s furniture. The elder Meier is happy to be a part of the emerging scene at the Jersey City complex. “It’s a very lively place, a destination,” he said, noting the presence of artists, craftspeople, and dance studios in the building.

Meier sees the museum as a cultural and educational resource, and hopes, in particular, that architecture students will access the collection. “I have some very rare magazines,” he added. Architecture PhD students, take note.

The Richard Meier Model Museum is open by appointment every Friday beginning this spring and appointments can be made through the office of Richard Meier & Partners. Email requests can be sent to M.Musuem@RichardMeier.com.

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Richard Meier In For the Long Haul In Newark
As construction continues at Richard Meier’s Teachers Village in Newark, renderings have surfaced for a significant batch of glassy towers that could rise alongside it. At first glance, the master plan looks like Hudson Yards' glossy, younger sibling who is vying for attention on the other side of the Hudson. But the project remains as ephemeral as its glassy renderings. The SoMa—or "South of Market"—Redevelopment Project, as it's known, is also designed by the starchitect and Newark native, and is being developed by RBH. Field Operations and Arup are also lending their skills to the project. The plan is in its early days and Meier’s office told AN they are focused on finishing the current phase of Teacher’s Village. Three new residential buildings at the site are expected to open this year. As for SoMa, the entire project is aiming for a 2025 opening, so mark your calendar now. [Via YIMBY.]
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Reforma Towers
Courtesy Richard Meier & Partners

Reforma Towers
Architect: Richard Meier and Partners
Client: Diametro
Location: Mexico City
Completion: 2017

In late January, Richard Meier & Partners unveiled plans for a 40-story mixed-use tower and a 27-story hotel along Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City’s monumental main commercial boulevard. While the project looks straightforward at first glance, its carved out shape will open it to the elements and break new ground in tall building design.

“Everything happens on the inside,” said Bernhard Karpf, Associate Partner at Richard Meier and Partners. The exposed, sloped atrium extends about 25 floors through the building. Its large opening becomes thinner as it enters the core. The developer, Diametro, is staffed partially by architects, and was receptive to this unusual technique. The outdoor spaces also fit well into Mexico’s rich tradition of outdoor courtyard space.

 
 

The exterior of the buildings will be composed of glass curtain walls (of varying opacity), covered in strategic locations by steel louvers for shade. Another large open space will be located on the podium connecting the top of the hotel’s parking structure with the larger tower.

“We didn’t want to do another cookie cutter with a pretty facade,” said Karpf. The firm is working on a few other projects in Mexico, but this is the first under construction. Completion is expected within the next three years.

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Criticism
Morphosis' Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.
Iwan Baan

A lot of the people who write for us, including some of our in-house editorial staff, have critical ideas about architecture. Here’s what they said about several different buildings in 2013.


 

Klyde Warren Park

Can a new highway-cap park unite Downtown Dallas in pedestrian-friendly planning?

 
 

 

Hunter's Point South Park

Alan G. Brake explores New York's newest waterfront park by Thomas Balsley Associates and Weiss/Manfredi.

 
 

 

Morphosis' Model Museum

Michael Webb explores the firm's first museum, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.

 

 

Chipperfield's SLAM Dunk

Sophisticated expansion at the St. Louis Art Museum exhibits deferential monumentality.

 
 

 

Greeks and Geeks

Ennead's Bing Concert Hall helps build an arts district on Stanford's campus.

 
 

 

The Hepcat Seat

New performance space for the San Francisco Jazz Society achieves an elegant simplicity.

 

 

Kimbell Art Museum Piano Pavilion

Renzo Piano creates a subtle counterweight to Louis Kahn's masterwork in Fort Worth.

 
 

 

Day Court

Richard Meier's new federal courthouse gives downtown San Diego a new civic icon.

 
 

 

Metalsa Center

Brooks + Scarpa design an innovative manufacturing and research facility in Mexico.

 

 

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Studio Visits
Studio Retreat in Chappaqua, New York by Workshop/apd.
T.G. Olcott

One of our most popular columns is Studio Visit. That’s where an editor or freelancer visits an architectural practice and then writes about the way that practice goes about its business and describes four or five of its recent projects. In 2013 we visited Richard Meier & Partners Architects and a lot of other firms whose names might not be quite as well known.

Family and PlayLab

Two young firms collaborate to create publicly engaged design.

Continue reading.


 

Studio V

New York firm interested in the intersection of modern architecture and changing nature of cities.

 
 

 

Bernard Tschumi Architects

Checking in with an important voice in New York's architecture scene since 1976.

 
 

 

Richard Meier & Partners

Celebrating 50 years of architectural practice, Richard Meier looks to build the future.

 

 

David Baker+Partners

San Francisco-based firm uses simple forms and materials to create dynamic mixed-use projects.

 
 

 

Stamberg Aferiat

New York architects employ bold colors to animate space and form.

 
 

 

Workshop/apd

New York-based firm crafts sleek residences and impactful urban spaces.

 

 

BAM Architecture Studio

New York-based firm employs a business-centric approach to design.

 
 

 

Altamanu

Chicago-based landscape architects knit together infrastructure and public space.

 
 

 

Max Levy

Dallas architect looks to nature for inspiration in his designs.

 

 

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Plenoptic Fountainhead
Herzog and De Meuron open their Perez Art Museum Miami.
Iwan Baan

Miami continues to reshape its image and rebrand itself as a vibrant new city under the sun: part Utopia, part Dystopia, but swelling with dozens of riotous new projects, all screaming for attention. Every brand-name architect in the world came to town the week of Art Basel to promote yet another high profile project, like the new Miami Beach convention center and park by Rem Koolhass/OMA. There's a 60-story "exoskeleton" tower and vulvic parking structure in the works by Zaha Hadid; condos by Ceasar Pelli; shimmering glass cubes by Richard Meier over the old Surf Club; a residential and cultural complex by Norman Foster and Rem Koolhaas; twin towers shaped like dueling tornados by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels; and a science museum by Nicholas Grimshaw.

There's something oddly pale and bone-like about so many of these proposed structures. They are presented in garish digital renderings, as if already doomed and dried out in the sun, exploiting architecture as the mightiest of marketing tools with riotous sculptural forms, oversized balconies expanding giddily into fleckless blue skies, daring verticality, shifting axes, structures revealed in all-over transparency and other forms of extreme architectural voyeurism, sparsely populated by slender digital figures—one percenters in tailored suits and bikini-clad super models—who appear to be enjoying a future of sexual experimentation, sunbathing, and floating listlessly in digital blue swimming pools. In a rendering for one new structure, a single heroic figure stands in silhouette on a cantilevered balcony, sipping a mojito and watching the sunset over Biscayne Bay. He appears to be the Architect, the new Howard Roark in sybaritic suspension, oblivious and unaware of the rising waters and social unrest brewing down below. And within this sunny Fountainhead, the moody charcoal chiaroscuro that Hugh Ferriss popularized in his Depression-era renderings has been replaced by a completely shadow-less empire awash in waves of translucent blue pixels.

As Miami's skyline rises higher with glassy phallic towers, the city continues to sink at ever alarming rates. On any given day, you can find areas that are already under water, depending on the tide and lunar cycle, yet there was hardly a mention of "green" or climate change all week, except for the engulfing sand dune at the entry to Design Miami that was designed by Garrett Riccardi and Julian Rose of formlessfinder and hinted at some sort of cataclysmic event. Although, the engulfing sand dune at the entry to this year's Design Miami hinted at some sort of cataclysmic event. “Miami, as we know it today, is doomed,” said Harold Wanless, chairman of the department of geological sciences at the University of Miami. “It’s not a question of if. It's a question of when." Scientists predict that by 2030—only 16 years from now—the sea will have risen more than two feet and as much as six feet by the end of the century or even sooner, thereby creating a Miami bling version of Atlantis. Dutch flood experts were flown in to consult and Broward County has finally enacted a climate change master plan, but developers in Miami Beach seem to have missed the memo.

This is all part of a trend that started way back in 2011 with Frank Gehry’s New World Symphony Hall in Miami Beach that was soon followed by Herzog & de Meuron's high-design parking structure at 1111 Lincoln Road, an instant landmark for the "New Miami" with open-frame structure, flaring, fin-like supports, sloping ramps, and disco lighting—something between Piranesi and Lady Gaga. "We proved that a parking garage could become an interesting space," said Jacques Herzog. He proved that an über-garage could become a party space and location for non-parking cultural events, like the Piston Head exhibition at this year’s Art Basel. Curated by Adam Lindemann, it featured "repurposed" cars created by artists like Damien Hirst, Richard Prince, and Kenny Scharf, including a nicely pancaked Fiat by Ron Arad.

Herzog and De Meuron open their Perez Art Museum Miami.
Iwan Baan
 

Herzog was in town to celebrate the opening of his firm's latest triumph, the controversially named Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). It was, without question, the super-star attraction of the week. Despite a rushed construction schedule, the museum managed to open to the public on Tuesday with mounds of sand, pots of overturned palmettos, and thousands of visitors tramping over rough gravel, funneling between chain-link fencing to reach the new Jewel on the Bay, many of them wondering if it was the Swiss architects' intent to leave building and grounds so unfinished looking, not realizing that the project was, in fact, unfinished.

Patrick Blanc—the French inventor of vertical landscaping—was frantically running around with died-green hair, green shirt, green pants, green boots, and long curling fingernails, giving orders to Latino plants-men, unnerved by the fact that they hadn't yet inserted all 54,700 of the exotic plants his plan called for (including 77 local species of salvia, begonia, silver-leafed artemisia, columnea, and sedum), and wondering out loud how they could be so late in getting around to finishing such an important task. I said something smug like, "Welcome to Miami," while introducing him to a young blogger from Harvard who complimented him (twice!) on the bicycle-wheel installation by Chinese dissident artist Ai Wei Wei.

"This?" said Blanc, spinning one of Wei Wei's wheels in response to Holly Golightly's misdirected compliment.

"This is not me," he said. "C'est pas moi!"

Patrick Blanc designed landscape elements in the PAMM.
Iwan Baan
 

Raising the cultural bar for all of Miami, the new museum hovers lightly above Biscayne Bay with a degree of humility that is uncharacteristic for the city of architectonic hubris. It is not an "iconic" mass or signature statement so much as an airy, dissipated assemblage of screens, slender columns, scrims, and cubic volumes (containing art galleries) that float between a wooden roof "trellis" above and cantilevered terraces below. Of course, the overall effect will be greatly enhanced when peripheral gardens fill in, the public plaza and neighboring museum by Grimshaw are completed, and Blanc's dangling gardens are lushly sprouting so that the entire structure begins to resemble the original vision of an overgrown ruin, a kind of monumental chia pet or, as Herzog described it to me, a sprawling banyan tree with multiple trunks and dangling air roots.

"This isn't some strip mall," said PAMM's director Tom Collins, and he's right. "This is really sophisticated design."

Early proposals showed pyramidal forms and stacked slabs rising vertically, as if to compete with the skyscrapers of downtown Miami, but such temptations were ultimately resisted and lower, less conspicuous forms have replaced strident profiles.

"Museums work better when they're horizontal," said Herzog. With partner Christine Binswanger, he managed to meld the 120,000-square-foot facility into place without disrupting the messy urban vitality and natural beauty of the unique site at the intersection of Northeast 11th Street, Biscayne Boulevard and the MacArthur Causeway. The sea-flecked light is voluptuous, sparkling, almost iridescent with inlets and ocean on one side, skyscrapers and sprawling urban infrastructure on the other. It sits at the very crux of a dynamic convergence between Nature and Commerce, overlooking Museum Park, the elevated tracks of the Miami Metrorail, the Venetian Causeway, the picturesque islands of Biscayne Bay, and the convex shell of the American Airlines Arena (home to the Miami Heat). Cars and people movers whizz past; cruise ships come and go through Government Cut; tankers unload at the adjacent Port of Miami; jetliners stream overhead, making their final descent into Miami International. It's as thrilling as any building site can hope to be.

Now this city, famous for its short attention spans, is obliged to rise to the occasion, and to some extent the dramatically framed views that reach out from the interior spaces make up for shortcomings in the museum's spotty collection. To be fair, the collection has been expanding in the past few months with generous donations from Jorge M. Pérez, Debra and Dennis Scholl, Mimi and Bud Floback, Craig Robbins and Jackie Sofer, among others. But the art on the walls still pales in comparison to the architecture that enfolds it.

Entry pavilion at Design Miami by formlessfinder.
Alastair Gordon
 

Imagine Future

An international pantheon of famous architects congregated for the "Imagine the Future—Now!" power dinner at the Wolfsonian Museum on Wednesday evening, hosted by Director Cathy Leff. Her guests included Norman Foster (has he lost his "Sir" or not?), Richard Meier, Jean Nouvel, Herzog, Binswanger, Dror Benshetrit, Bjarke Ingels, Shohei Shigematsu, Enrique Norten, Laurinda Spear, Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Iwan Baan, the brilliant architectural photographer who was in town to shoot PAMM.

   
From Four New Visions for Living in Miami: OMA model; DS+R Model; Christian de Portzamparc Model.
Alastair Gordon; Courtesy Four New Visions for Living in Miami
 

Terry Riley was at both the Wolfsonian dinner and the Design Miami tent, talking about the competition he organized for the Terra and Related development groups. It included projects by Christian de Portzamparc, Nouvel, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Rem Koolhass/OMA, who were all invited to offer ideas for a mid-rise residential building on a waterfront site in Coral Gables. "Our solution was to distribute the 500,000 square feet of living between a field of slender towers," said OMA partner Shigematsu, who turned out to have the winning scheme. The six towers in OMA’s proposal have no interior columns, which allows for uninhibitedly naked exposure and maximum views. "One of our theories is that one can offset this excessive compulsion toward the spectacular with a return to simplicity," said Rem Koolhaas somewhat cryptically given the spectacular vanity of his own proposal. (OMA's and other entrants' models and drawings were unveiled this week at Design Miami and a book, Four (4) New Visions for Living in Miami, which was published in tandem with the exhibition.)

Jean Prouvé's "Demountable House."
Courtesy Patrick Seguin
 

Perriand and Prouvé (Design Miami)

It would seem that old is new, yet again, and that the future lies mysteriously imbedded in the past, somehow, and yes, it says something about current design trends that some of the more noteworthy artifacts at the 2013 Miami art and design fairs were vintage, like the furniture that Charlotte Perriand created for French industrialist Jean Borot in the 1950s and was shown this week at the Laffanour Galerie booth; or the vintage Gio Ponti pieces recreated by Molenti&C at Modus Miami in the Design District; or Jean Prouvé's "Demountable House" of 1945 that French gallerist Patrick Seguin shipped to Miami and reconstructed in the Design Miami tent. It's the gray patina, the sadness in those weathered boards that make it compelling and oddly relevant for today amid so many shiny new objects at the other exhibitor's booths. The central structural support—a Prouvé signature "caliper" made from yellow sheet metal—further emphasizes the melancholic, refugee/concentration-camp geist of the worn wood siding on the house's exterior, while inside an equally Spartan treatment is carried through with whitewashed walls and moody lighting from Prouvé's own minimal fixtures.

Reconstruction sequence of Jean Prouvé's "Demountable House."
Courtesy Patrick Seguin
 

White surgical booties were required footwear for members of the press if you wanted to have a sneak preview inside Charlotte Perriand's Maison au Bord de l'Eau. The project is based loosely on a couple of pretty but sketchy renderings that Perriand drew in 1934 for a design competition organized by L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui—something vaguely akin to the speck of DNA from a prehistoric mosquito being used to create a fully fleshed out dinosaur in Jurassic Park. The house was fully reconstructed by Louis Vuitton on a sandy lot at the back of the Raleigh Hotel—and a place so perfectly re-imagined, so finely constructed and finished, and now maintained by young women in blue dresses, that one had to wonder if it was real or a three-dimensional hologram. Even when I touched the smoothly finished walls I wasn't quite sure. (Maybe they should have handed out special goggles as well as the surgical booties). Indeed, the house is more fantasy than reality, as the radical modernism of Perriand has been cleansed to a fault and turned into a branding tool for the luxury fashion house of LVMH.

Charlotte Perriand's Maison au Bord de l'Eau.
 

Inside becomes outside in the central deck that is covered with a tent-like canopy of white canvas. Below are some potted plants and reproductions of Perriand's furniture, like the Chaise Longue Pliante of 1939 and the Table Basse en Ardoise of 1934, which was designed specifically for the Maison. All of this served as the manicured backdrop for LV's Spring/Summer 2014 Collection Icônes. Modern, tasteful clothes were based on Perriand's sensibility; clean, minimal and refreshingly non-bling: green silk gingham long-sheath dress, gingham shorts, blue cape, striped shift and leggings, all color blocked to match the furniture and architecture. Indeed, Perriand's entire imagery had been appropriated, her smiling face, her deck chairs and knicknacks, her little dream shack. As the press blurb said: "Fresh as a breeze from the mountaintops, graphic as the stroke of an architect's pen, the 'Icônes' collections for Summer 2014 invite a timeless feminine elegance..." But Perriand, who passed away fifteen years ago, hasn't had any say in the matter and one wonders if she really would want to be re-branded like this in our current Age of Appropriation.

Norman Foster's Norton Museum.
Courtesy Foster + Partners
 

Norton Museum

Norman Foster was in town, unveiling a master plan for the Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach to a throng of pink-slacked bankers, Channel-suited board members, architects, PR flacks, and members of the diminishing architectural press, all gathered in a private dining room at the Delano Hotel on Wednesday afternoon. Foster himself was nattily clad in a white linen suit, at peace with the world, smiling and shaking hands.

 
Norman Foster's Norton Museum.
Courtesy Foster + Partners
 

"What does this building really want to be?" said Foster, standing at the front of the room. "'Please help me rediscover my roots,' asks the building. Bring in water and green the landscape, inspired by the lush vegetation of south Florida..." Spencer de Grey, Foster's joint Head of Design, was also on hand, wearing goggle-style spectacles and explaining some of the finer points of the elegantly simple plan, which is shaped in part around a 150-year-old Ficus tree that grows in front of the museum. The deep overhang of the roof has a circular cut-out section to accommodate the tree and its branches while a floor-to-ceiling window in the new, multipurpose "Great Hall" will frame the majestic tree out front and serve as the project's "anchor and reference point," according to the architects. "What if the poor tree dies?" asked one board member, peering into the scale model that was prominently on display. (No one seemed to have an answer.) The master plan keeps much of the original 1941 building—an otherwise nondescript neoclassical pile with courtyard—intact. It re-establishes the original entry from the Dixie Highway (US Rt. 1) and rotates the central axis while re-contextualizing the older galleries for the 21st Century with four new pavilions that effectively double the museum's exhibition space. The pavilions also include a reception area, restaurant, new auditorium, and education area to help bring the museum into the community that it serves. "It's a very wide palette of activities and spaces," said Foster, pointing to the street-side plaza that features a long rectangular pool to reflect sunlight under the overhang, creating a shimmering pattern and animating the entry facade.

The Jade Signature condo tower by Herzog & de Meuron.
Courtesy Herzog & De Meuron
 

Jade Signature, Sunny Isles, Herzog & De Meuron

"Views to the beach are all perpendicular," said Christine Bingswanger of Herzog and De Meuron, sitting on the back porch of the Raleigh Hotel with a coffee and half-eaten lemon meringue in front of her, explaining how Jade Signature, yet another billionaire condo tower, is being built on the beach in Sunny Isles for Fortune International and scheduled to open in 2016. Bingswanger is the partner in charge of this 57-story cliff dwelling that looks not unlike other condo towers but with some notable distinctions. The exterior surface is porous with floor-to-ceiling glass and deep overhangs to block the sun. Partitions were designed in what she calls a "Vocabulary of Columns," pulled and stretched to bring in human scale and alternated between units depending on the floor's layout. The skeletal concrete forms, something like the scalloped slots of a cheese grater, express a porous and cellular surface, one that is more articulated and responsive to light and much less soulless than the reflective glass facades of most Miami towers. A seemingly random pattern ripples between concave and convex with sculpted cartilage supporting each corner as the building ascends to a slightly tapered top. The clutter that usually hinders the ground level of these types of buildings is largely hidden with a second floor lobby and underground parking. Interiors are luxurious white expanses with ten to twelve foot ceilings and thirty percent of each floor given over to outdoor space with generously wide balconies. Each unit goes all the way through from back to front, offering both sunrise and sunset, bay and ocean views, while floors are staggered to allow for cross-ventilation, and this, emphasizes Bingswanger, should alleviate the need for air conditioning during winter months.

Miami Oblivion

The rest of the week dissipated into a blur of extravagant cocktails and traffic jams, eating nothing but tiny spring rolls one day, three lunches, two dinners the next, a long tent on the beach with Swarovski crystals, no-show celebrities, Piotr Uklanski at the Bass, Hugo França's sculptural benches at Fairchild Gardens, AIDS benefit, tall super models, media tours, VIP lounges, book signings, pop-up stores in Wynwood, the ubiquitous Craig Robins, Pulse, Ice Palace, Aqua, Nada, Scope, "Untitled" in tent on beach, De La Cruz Collection, Chinese art at Rubells, wandering Lincoln Road with Ron Arad in his flip-up hat and general Miami oblivion. It was sunny and 82 degrees when I left, but Siberian-style white out when I landed back in New York.

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Richard Meier & Partners
Aerial view of Teachers Village in Newark, New Jersey.
Courtesy Richard Meier & Partners

The central figures in the creation of Greenwich Village’s Westbeth Artist Housing—Joan Davidson of the J. M. Kaplan Fund, her brother Richard Kaplan, and Roger Stevens of the National Endowment for the Arts—needed an architect for the project as it evolved in the 1960s. Kaplan recommended a young designer he knew who had recently founded his practice in New York. It was Richard Meier. The group handed the commission to Meier without interviewing another architect and it was certainly a prescient choice. Meier has just celebrated his 50th year in practice as one of the world’s best-known practitioners, having been recognized with a Pritzker Prize in 1984 and the AIA Gold Medal in 1997.

In 1969, MoMA’s Arthur Drexler and Colin Rowe grouped Meier with his New York City contemporaries—Peter Eisenman, John Hejduk, Michael Graves, and Charles Gwathmey—and dubbed the group the “New York Five.” A subsequent book, Five Architects (Oxford University Press, 1972), became one of the most influential design statements of the period and secured Meier’s place at the forefront of the profession. But it was winning the commission for The Getty Center in Los Angeles in the 1990s that catapulted Richard Meier & Partners into international celebrity and fame.

The firm’s architecture is often described as an updated version of Le Corbusier’s early white geometric forms, but its work is so much more. The early white box houses formally referenced the villas Savoye and Stein, but also defined the notion of the modern home in a new way, more than any other architecture in the post war period. The Hamptons and Malibu are replete with houses that strive for the look and daily experience of a Meier house, but they are mostly bad copies.

In addition to these iconic residential projects, Meier’s firm has designed scores of important and influential projects: United States Federal Courthouses in San Diego, California, and Islip, New York; Weill Hall, the life sciences technology building at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; 165 Charles Street in New York; the San Jose, California, City Hall; The Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art; and the Ara Pacis Museum and Jubilee Church in Rome. The firm has been able to update its design language into buildings that say “modernism” without being generic corporate towers or boxes.

In addition to the projects featured on this page, Meier’s offices in New York and Los Angeles are currently designing projects on three continents including a hotel complex in Jeselo, Italy; a resort in South Korea; two residential towers in Tokyo, Japan; high rise tower projects in Mexico City; and City Green Court in Prague, the Czech Republic.

 

Italcementi i.lab
Bergamo, Italy

This research and development center in farmland outside Bergamo, Italy, is a v-shaped building emphasizing its triangular site and programmatic requirements: technical research facilities and administrative offices. A soaring double-height entrance foyer joins the two wings, housing a long and elegant ramp that provides circulation between floors. The technical wing was designed according to very stringent technical requirements. Meier laid out a simple structural grid and a central circulation corridor to allow efficient and flexible plans for these spaces. A second wing houses offices, conference rooms, a two-story multipurpose hall, and a sky-lit boardroom that cantilevers over the first floor. A spectacular soaring roof creates what Meier calls a “virtual fifth facade that is perforated with movable skylights directing light into offices, circulation corridors, and laboratory spaces, animating the interiors with the changing natural light.

The building uses a high-strength, pollution-reducing reinforced concrete mixture (white photocatalytic “smog-eating”) developed by Italcementi specifically for the project. The structure is a benchmark of sustainable design in Europe and the first LEED Platinum building in Italy.

 

Rothschild Tower
Tel Aviv, Israel

The most important thoroughfare in Tel Aviv’s historic White City quarter, Rothschild Boulevard, is perhaps the most active pedestrian street with a central green space, allées of trees, and a variety of restaurants and street cafes. This 37-story combined residential and commercial tower utilizes Meier’s iconic vocabulary of glass and white walls and features views of the city’s seaside. Like his other residential towers, the building has a seamless entrance to the street and the pedestrian streetscape of the boulevard. There is a glass canopy structure along the ground level street facades and large openings in the second-floor facades that shelter a pool deck and spa. A passageway with entrances on two streets serves the retail section of the building. The Rothschild Tower looms over the Bauhaus-like White City and portends a new level of development in the dense but low-rise urban fabric.

 

Teachers Village
Newark, New Jersey

Richard Meier has only a handful of completed projects in the New York area, but this one must be especially gratifying to the architect, who was born in Newark in 1934. A mixed-use development of eight total buildings, it houses 200 apartments, a charter school, daycare center, and street-level retail. Meier contends that each of these buildings is “site specific and designed relative to its context. Street wall heights (six stories) are regulated in accordance with the Newark Living Downtown Plan and provide a rich variety of street conditions.” Much of the downtown site had been used for parking lots and have now been transformed into workforce housing for teachers so they can walk to school. It creates a new neighborhood in what had been a declining part of the city. The development is conveniently located to benefit from the city’s efficient public transportation system, from extensive local and regional bus lines to the Washington Street light rail and Newark Penn Station—hub for NJ TRANSIT, Amtrak trains, and PATH train service to Manhattan. While the project employs the traditional Meier formal vocabulary of white walls, it also includes a brick side structure that is unique for the office and a streetscape design that brings his ideas to an urban design plan.

 

Leblon Offices
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This 10-story commercial office building located in the Leblon neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro is meant to be an iconic headquarters for Brazilian financial services firm Vinci Partners. The project consists of open office spaces and a series of terraces that open up to a private interior courtyard and create a direct connection with the urban artery of Av. Bartolomeu Mitre. The tower, with its formal vocabulary, is aimed at reflecting the site’s distinct orientation and, like most of Meier’s recent work, “addressing issues of sustainability, maximum efficiency, and flexibility.” Referring to the legacy of sun baffles in Rio de Janeiro, the western facade is composed of a set of louvers meant for both maximum sun shading and privacy. To the east, the facade is pulled away from its neighbors to create an internal courtyard and provide natural daylight on two exposures for all offices. It also contains a large vertical garden that ties back into a rough and refined exposed architectural concrete core, which services the building. According to Meier, the project straddles “the refined precision of a white aluminum and glass, free-plan office, and the roughness of concrete and vegetation within the courtyard.”

 

Bisazza Exhibition Space
Vicenza, Italy

This site-specific installation was created for the Italian tile company Bisazza in Vicenza, Italy. Like many Italian companies, Bisazza’s idea of promoting its product is to tie it in with an important cultural project or producer—something American companies should try! Bisazza proposed a Richard Meier retrospective and asked the architect to design the exhibition, including an installation that the company would keep in its archives. The result was Internal Time, a series of eight columns whose geometries gradually angle in one dimension. As the user moves around the “garden” they “experience different qualities of compression and expansion, and changes in light and perspective.” Meier writes that natural light “is the most fundamental element central to our work and we hope this installation creates an immersive and intimate experience.”