A white building from one of the New York Five? That's hardly surprising, but it is perhaps fitting that Richard Meier's latest work has gone up in Israel's White City, an area famed for its modernist and Bauhaus architecture. Known as "The Whites," the New York Five comprised Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk and Richard Meier. Their work, bound together by the now career-defining "Five Architects" which was published in 1972, riffed on Corbusian ideals and produced white forms in their early careers and indeed much of Meier's career in general. Richard Meier & Partners' Rothschild Tower, which officially opened last week in Tel Aviv, is a continuation of that form. Located on Rothschild Boulevard in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of White City, the 42-story tower is a residential building that offers balconies on every corner as well as a swimming pool, spa, and wine cellar. This is the firm's first project in Israel. "The great thing about the site is that it's related to the whole city; it's related to all of the wonderful buildings of the 1930s and to the historic buildings of Rothschild Boulevard. It makes me very happy to be in such company," said Meier in a press release. Drawing on Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye, Rothschild Tower sits above the street, supported by a set of piloti. A double-height lobby bound by a glass curtain wall facilitates openness at street level. White louvers horizontally span each level where residential units are located and comprise a double-layered facade. "The transparency and lofty openness of the ground floor lobby, garden and retail spaces contribute to a vibrant streetscape," said Reynold Logan, a design partner at Richard Meier & Partners who headed the project.
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Who could possibly make Richard Meier work in anything but white? Someone with a good plan and a strong vision (well, also this guy). Deep in downtown Newark, New Jersey, Richard Meier & Partners, working for developer RBH Group, has put another round of finishing touches on a multi-building development called Teachers Village. Though technically "mixed-use," the Teachers Village spirit is more in line with a cheery contemporary mill town, or a little Columbus, Indiana. In a postindustrial twist, the project's affordable and market-rate residences were marketed first towards teachers and their families (though other workers are welcome, too). The complex's three apartment buildings by Meier feature 123 residential units. Each unit is sunny, owing to the ring of (to-be-developed) surface parking surrounding much of the Village and to the floor-to-ceiling windows in the common spaces. The scheme has proved popular so far—as of mid-February, the buildings are almost fully leased. Some of the residents teach at the development's three charter schools (two designed by Meier). On a recent tour, reporters ascended an outdoor stair on a skywalk between the two schools, topped by a few circular skylights, and filed along a catwalk above the spacious gymnasium. After school hours, residents can play basketball on the indoor courts, which barely need overhead lighting thanks to ecclesiastic south-facing windows. RBH Group wanted the project to integrate with Newark's beautiful but worn streets nearby. The design team worked with the city's Landmarks & Historic Preservation Commission to envision structures that would reflect Newark's scale and vernacular. The result: Meier used red brick for the first time since the 1960s. Well, not true red brick. The material, used on one of the schools, is inflected with iron, projecting a soft metallic glow in the right light, a still-earthy foil to white aluminum panel– and stucco-clad buildings nearby. Some of the window-adjacent brick is arranged in a sawtooth pattern, establishing visual continuity with the low-slung commercial storefronts nearby detailed with decorative brick and terra-cotta tiles. This is deeply intentional. Teachers Village harmonizes with the surrounding city, but it's more than a patch in the urban fabric. The project on target to receive LEED Neighborhood Development certification, a hard-to-get designation awarded to community-scale projects that evince sustainable design and smart urban development. Lined with street-level retail, buildings along the Halsey Street corridor are not more than four stories tall, in keeping with Newark's low-rise character and growth goals outlined in the latest master plan. Teachers are less than a 15-minute walk to the nearest PATH and NJ Transit stations, near the Prudential Center and three city parks. All told, the six buildings of Teachers Village's first phase include three schools, 65,000 square feet of retail, and residential programs spread out over 23 acres south of Market Street and west of Broad Street. The development is part of what could be, by 2050, a 15 million-square-foot development with a 200-room hotel, 550,000 square feet of retail and cultural programming, 4.75 million square feet of office space, and up to 8,000 residential units. The project broke ground in 2012, and buildings have been coming online for the past four years. A mix of residential and retail, Building VI (243 Halsey Street) has just recently opened its doors to new tenants. "Newark doesn't have the best reputation," said Meier, who was born in the city. "It needs this kind of development to help others realize that Newark's an important city. Any project we can do to help the whole city—we're proud to do it." Editor's Note: This article initially stated that 206 units were constructed in Phase One. There are 123. In addition, the article was updated to include the project's overall development capacity.
When we saw the "Rare Albino Graves" proposal for Miami surface last year, one wonders if perhaps Richard Meier too had his eyes on bucking his own trademark color palette. The Pritzker Prize-winning architect did offer some explanation as to why his design for 685 First Avenue—his firm's tallest residential building in New York—dons a "Terminator-black" facade. “We asked ourselves, can formal ideas and the philosophy of lightness and transparency, the interplay of natural light and shadow with forms and spaces, be reinterpreted in the precise opposite—white being all colors and black the absence of color?” said Meier in a press release. “Our perspective continues to evolve, but our intuition and intention remain the same—to make architecture that evokes passion and emotion, lifts the spirit, and is executed perfectly." Developer Sheldon Solow has owned this site since the turn of the century, but plans have been a long time coming. Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM) initially worked on a masterplan for the five-acre site in 2008 which involved an office block, six residential towers, and public parks. Some of that land had since been sold off by Solow and now construction has finally started on the site (initial exterior renders were revealed in May earlier this year). Back then, the Wall Street Journal was far from complimentary in describing Meier's work as “a plain rectangular slab." "The new building, except for its color, is vintage Meier inside and out, a polished specimen of neo-Modernist simplicity.” Sources close to AN also poured scorn: “A cheap lighter.” “Nice gap tooth.” “Looks like they hired no one to design it.” “Should have stuck to white.” The 556-unit tower will rise to approximately 460 feet (42 stories). 408 of these units will be available to rent while the remaining 148 will be condos. This programming is expressed through 685 First Avenue's facade with a double-height divider—emulative of a rogue Tetris piece—that can be found on the 27th floor. Above that gap is the project's 148 condos, of which 69 will provide balconies and views of Midtown Manhattan. Renders of these luxurious interiors can be seen in the gallery above. Along with the living units, amenities include specific rooms for games, yoga, work (on laptops/tablets), dining, as well as a children's play area and a 70-foot swimming pool and fitness center. These will be located on the building's second floor, while at ground level, residents at the public will have access to retail services.
The Richard Meier–designed Douglas House has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Harbor Springs, Michigan house was built in 1973 for Mr. and Mrs. James Douglas. Clad in Meier’s signature white, the Douglas House is sited dramatically over Lake Michigan. Due to the steep site, the house is entered from the roof level by way of a foot bridge. This long entry sequence enforces a strict separation between the public and private. Once inside the house is oriented to exterior views. The roof deck and the living room provide uninterrupted views out over Lake Michigan. Richard Meier commented on the early stages of working with the Douglases: “One day I received a letter from a Mr. and Mrs. James Douglas inquiring if I would sell them the blueprints for the Smith House. I replied that while I was not prepared to sell the drawings, I would certainly be willing to design a new house for them along similar lines. They accepted, and I started designing a house for a site that they had purchased in a residential subdivision in northern Michigan. As it happened, the developer who had sponsored the subdivision insisted on reviewing the design of any house that would be built within its boundary. He asked me to submit photographs of my work, whereupon he immediately refused to permit a house designed by me since it did not have the prerequisite classic pitched roof. To my delight, the Douglases responded to this impasse by promptly selling the plot and looking for another site, and that was the beginning of a very gratifying collaboration." The National Register of Historic Places is maintained by the U.S. Department of the Interior via the National Park Service. The goal of the register is to support “public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archaeological resources.” Properties added to the register can be either buildings, structures, objects, or sites.
Pritzker Prize–winning architect Richard Meier's trademark is the white, or off-white, structure. Yesterday, though, the architect blacked out at the behest of his developer friend Sheldon Solow for a 42-story, 556-unit residential tower on the East River. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) revealed renderings of the 828,000-square foot, Terminator-black, UN-adjacent building, at 39th Street and First Avenue. It's Meier's tallest in New York and his first since his three apartment towers on West Street were completed more than 12 years ago. The WSJ generously described the form as "a plain rectangular slab...the new building, except for its color, is vintage Meier inside and out, a polished specimen of neo-Modernist simplicity." Sources close to AN panned the design: "A cheap lighter." "Nice gap tooth." "Looks like they hired no one to design it." "Should have stuck to white." Solow insisted that Meier use black, because all of the developer's buildings are black. Solow thinks of architects as painters, and it was a question here, Solow explained, of getting Meier to adjust his palette. Solow has intended to develop the site, formerly home to Con Edison steam plants, for decades. After years of environmental remediation, and fights with planning agencies and the community boards, visions for the towers were scuttled in the 2008 recession. Last year, Solow resumed the development, filing plans for the tower were last August, although a few details have changed since then: the size of the building is up 10,000 square feet, with one-third condos and two-third rentals. The project is expected to be complete in 2018. The site could accommodate more programs, including a proposed commercial high-rise by SOM, and a one-acre park designed by James Corner Field Operations, although Solow would like to see how Meier's project progresses before confirming details on these projects.
Once a week, Richard Meier can be found at his model museum in the expansive Mana Contemporary arts complex in Jersey City. This is where he comes to work on collages, collaborate with screenprinter Gary Lichtenstein, and visit with his daughter Ana, who runs a furniture showroom next door. https://vimeo.com/131434676 The 15,000-square-foot Richard Meier Model Museum is filled with some 300 models of the architect’s work—from the Getty Museum in Los Angeles to his proposal for the World Trade Center site in Manhattan. The museum also includes exhibition space for Meier’s sculptural work and a library with 1,000 books and magazines from his personal collection. The Architect’s Newspaper recently toured Mana Contemporary (a former tobacco factory) with its founder and director Eugene Lemay, and sat down with Meier himself to learn about the model museum and how his design process has changed over the years. More from our conversation with the architect is posted below. AN: Describe your typical day at the model museum. Richard Meier: First I have some coffee and sometimes I read the newspaper and then I start working on collages. I come out here—it’s nice and peaceful and quiet. It is very different from working in the office. Next door is Gary Lichtenstein’s studio—he is a print maker—and I make prints with Gary. We do things together that would not be possible if we did not have this space. Today, so much of architecture and design work happens on computers. To you, what is the importance of craftsmanship, drawing, and model making in a digital age? One augments the other. All of our drawings are done on a computer, but that does not mean that models are not also helpful. We continue to make models of every project as part of the process. What do you hope to do next? If I had my druthers, I would do more things in New York. It is a lot easier to get together, to meet, to talk about what we are doing. But today things happen and you never know where the next project might be coming from. Anything else people should know about the model museum or Mana Contemporary? It is an amazing sort of area. Within the building, there is a dance company, there are other artists, it is sort of a place to visit in the same way people visit galleries in SoHo or Chelsea. It is nice and quiet, and for me just a great place to work outside of the office. I can do things here that I would not be able to do in the office.
The clock is ticking yet again for East London’s Robin Hood Gardens, the 1972 Brutalist public housing complex designed by Alison and Peter Smithson. In a call to arms, Lord Richard Rogers and Simon Smithson, the son of the architects, have written a letter to over 300 members of the architecture and construction industries in support of the 20th Century Society’s campaign to protect the iconic “streets in the sky” buildings from being demolished. The future of the seminal social housing estate has been in limbo since former Culture Secretary Andy Burnham granted it a listing certificate of immunity six years ago, essentially foiling any landmark designations that would ensure the buildings’ survival and preservation. Now that the certificate has expired, 20th Century Society, a conservation organization for modern architecture, is urging the new Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage to add the buildings to the statutory list of buildings of special architectural and historical interest. “The Smithsons were clearly great architects: the Economist Building, completed in 1964 and Grade I-listed in 1988, is without a doubt the best modern building in the historic centre of London. Robin Hood Gardens, which pioneered ‘streets in the air’ to preserve the public life of the East End terraces that it replaced, was the next large-scale job that the Smithsons embarked upon. It was architecturally and intellectually innovative. In my opinion, it is the most important social housing development from the post-war era in Britain,” wrote Lord Richard Rogers in the letter. Composed of two long concrete blocks, the 7-story buildings in Poplar, London feature balconies that face a rolling, man-made green. Curbed reported that the goal was to “create a modern, bustling city in the sky,” but it has fallen into disrepair, beset with problems including crime and graffiti. Architects, including Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Richard Meier, and Rogers, stand behind the controversial postwar complex, lauding its architectural significance as an exemplar of the Smithsons’ New Brutalism—characterized by exposed materials, contextual design, and the marriage of regional styles and modernism. Below is the full letter from Lord Richard Rogers and Simon Smithson: Dear Friends, I am writing to ask you to support listing Robin Hood Gardens as a building of special architectural interest, in order to protect one of Britain’s most important post-war housing projects, designed by Alison and Peter Smithson, from demolition. Previous efforts in 2009 to have the building listed failed, but the case has now been re-opened and we understand that the new Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage will be reviewing the arguments at the end of this week. The buildings, which offer generously-sized flats that could be refurbished, are of outstanding architectural quality and significant historic interest, and public appreciation and understanding of the value of modernist architecture has grown over the past five years, making the case for listing stronger than ever. The UK's 20th Century Society has submitted a paper setting out why they believe Robin Hood Gardens should be listed (i.e. added it to the statutory list of buildings of special architectural and historical interest). Two further assessments are set out below: “Alison and Peter Smithson were the inventors of the New Brutalism in the 1950s and as such they were the ‘bellwethers of the young' as Reyner Banham called them. In many ways [Robin Hood Gardens] epitomizes the Smithsons’ ideas of housing and city building. Two sculptural slabs of affordable housing create the calm and stress free place amidst the ongoing modernization of the London cityscape. The façades of precast concrete elements act as screens that negotiate between the private sphere of the individual flats and the collective space of the inner garden and beyond. The rhythmic composition of vertical fins and horizontal ’streets-in-the-air' articulates the Smithsons’ unique proposition of an architectural language that combines social values with modern technology and material expression. Despite the current state of neglect and abuse Robin Hood Gardens comprises a rare, majestic gesture, both radical and generous in its aspiration for an architecture of human association. As such it still sets an example for architects around the world.” Dr Dirk van den Heuvel, Delft University, Holland. “The Smithsons were clearly great architects: the Economist Building, completed in 1964 and Grade I-listed in 1988, is without a doubt the best modern building in the historic centre of London. Robin Hood Gardens, which pioneered ‘streets in the air’ to preserve the public life of the East End terraces that it replaced, was the next large-scale job that the Smithsons embarked upon. It was architecturally and intellectually innovative. In my opinion, it is the most important social housing development from the post-war era in Britain.” Lord Richard Rogers Last time listing was considered the views of the architectural community were ignored but we believe there is now a real chance of saving the building for posterity but only if the Minister hears, first hand, the views of the profession on the architectural merits of these exceptional buildings. Can we ask you to support the efforts of the 20th Century Society by writing right now to the Minster to support listing and saying why you believe Robin Hood Gardens should be saved? Click here to open an e-mail to the relevant Minister at the Department for Culture Media and Sport, Tracey Crouch MP: Ministerfirstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the building click here, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Hood_Gardens, and for details of the 20th Century Society case, please click here, http://www.c20society.org.uk/casework/robin-hood-gardens/ For Tweets: #SaveRobinHoodGardens Also, can we ask you to forward this e-mail to anyone else you know who might be willing to help save these important buildings? Yours sincerely, Richard Rogers and Simon Smithson
Construction recently wrapped on Richard Meier's first residential building in Japan—and with its white louvers and glassy facade, it sure has the architect's trademark look. The 49-story, 883-unit building in Tokyo is the first piece of the Harumi Towers, a residential development that will include 1,744 apartments when the second tower opens next April. On Meier's website, Dukho Yeon, the partner-in-charge, described the two buildings as siblings "with two unique designs each with its own character, image and movement, in dialogue and harmony with one another." The residential buildings, which will share amenities, also come with a public promenade along Tokyo Bay.
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.]
Richard Meier has returned to his roots with the opening of his latest project in the heart of downtown Newark, New Jersey. Government officials gathered Thursday to cut the ribbon on the first phase of a mixed-use development called Teachers Village. The 90,000 square foot structure is now home to two charter schools, with retail planned for the ground floor. The sprawling development—part of of revitalization program to revive downtown—will consist of retail space, a daycare center, three charter schools, and 200 apartment units for teachers. The Newark-born architect was tapped to design five of the eight buildings in the complex with KSS Architects in charge of the remaining three. "Project Teachers Village was conceived and started in 2008," said Vivian Lee, project manager at Richard Meier & Partners. "The original context of this area was mostly parking lots and a lot of abandoned buildings, and Ron [Beit] really had a vision to revitalize this part of downtown Newark and provide housing as well as retail to really liven up this part of the city." AN took a tour of the four-story, brick-and-metal-clad building, which is a departure from Meier's signature glass and stark-white buildings. "From early on the project we understood that this is not the typical project that our office does," said Remy Bertin, project architect. "We really wanted to integrate it into the fabric of Newark—not just in plan, not just in making things in line, but also through the material. Newark is the brick city. It is a very vernacular material for the city traditionally." The firm worked closely with a mason to create a sawtooth brick design on the facade. While Meier & Partners experimented with a new palette of materials, they still made light a priority in the overall design scheme. "In keeping with Richard Meier's design philosophy, we wanted to bring in a lot of natural light, and obviously it promotes learning," said Lee. Bertin said that zoning, specifically the height limits for buildings in the area, presented initial challenges to the design. "When we were designing the school, the big issue that we were dealing with was all the programs, all the schools that were in the space," said Bertin. "We really wanted to create a sense of inter-connectivity with public spaces within the building even though we had so much to pack into a 60 foot package that limited us."
Architect Richard Meier is stamping downtown Tel Aviv with another luxury landmark, “Meier on Rothschild,” a mix-use residential, commercial and office complex towering 39-stories over Tel Aviv’s White City. Located on Rothschild Boulevard, the tower is Meier’s modern take on Bauhaus architecture that characterizes the city, where two- and three-story buildings defined by minimalist and functional architecture and marked by smooth white curved exteriors are common. Meier on Rothschild was first proposed in 2005, drawing initial opposition from locals. It was a year after Meier on Rothschild broke ground in 2010 when Rothschild, becoming a new home to an array of chic residential towers, was home to a different crowd less accepting of the tower. In the summer of 2011 social justice protesters pitched dozens of tents on the boulevard demanding for affordable housing, underscoring the rising residential developments on Rothschild that cater to wealthy foreigners. The tower's 147 residential units range in size up to 8,450 square feet and feature ten-foot ceilings and up to 540 square feet of outdoor space offering panoramic views of the Mediterranean and Jaffa. The tower also includes a spa and a trendy rooftop deck with two pools, a hot tub, lounge chairs and a wine cellar. Meier said the building is “focusing on materials that are light, elegant, and transparent,” to exploit Israel’s sunlight. Prices vary from $1,100 to $1,700 per square foot, with the penthouse priced at $3,000 per square foot for a total of $50 million, making it the most expensive residence in Israel. Meier on Rothschild is currently halfway completed and is expected to be finished in early 2014.
Jeffery Koons, perhaps best known for his quirky stainless steel glossy sculptural reproductions of balloon dogs, has been called upon by Governor Andrew Cuomo to help decide what the new Tappan Zee bridge will look like. Koons, along with Richard Meier, winner of the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, and Thomas Campbell, Metropolitan Museum of Art Director, were named to the selection design team that will provide counsel on the construction of the Tappan Zee replacement bridge. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the decision in a press conference Wednesday. Meier’s most notable work includes the Getty Center in Los Angeles, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art and the Jubilee Church in Rome. The design team will offer advice on the bridge’s aesthetics and visual compatibility with the surrounding nature. “Another day, another big step toward creating a new bridge to replace the Tappan Zee which will be stronger, safer, better as well as one which will live up to the beauty and splendor of the Hudson River,” said Cuomo in a written statement issued earlier in the day. “For this project we are creating a different kind of selection team… a team that combines technical experts, architectural experts, local experts, as well as artists to ensure the new bridge is the best choice and fit for the region.” Cuomo will appeal for a 2.7 billion dollar federal government loan for the 5 billion dollar bridge, which has an anticipated construction date starting in early 2013 and expected completion date of 2017. The deteriorating current bridge, the longest in New York, was constructed in 1955 and crosses the Hudson River at one of its widest points between Westchester and Rockland counties.