Richard Meier is one of the foremost contemporary American architects. In 1984 at the age of 49, Meier was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize, often referred to as the Nobel of architecture. He was the youngest architect to receive the profession's highest accolade. Meier is known for resisting trend-based designs, instead developing his own design philosophy rooted in rationalism and noted for its use of the color white. His designs can be seen as Neo-Corbusian, referencing the famous French architect's early phase in particular. Meier has also named Frank Lloyd Wright as another major influence. Perhaps his most famous design is The Getty Center, a Los Angeles art museum funded by the J. Paul Getty trust. Meier was born in Newark, New Jersey, and educated at Cornell University.
Question: Is architecture art?
Richard Meier: Architecture is art. Every work is a work of art. Architecture is the greatest of the arts, and it encompasses thinking that other arts don’t even deal with. Like relationship of the work to the individual human being – the person who uses it; the person who experiences it; the person who sees it; and how that person perceives that space. You know there’s an old adage that a sculptor can make a square wheel, and an architect has to make a round one. You have a certain responsibility not just to your client, not just to the people using the building, but to the public at large with what you do.
Question: When does a building become art?
Richard Meier: Well I don’t say all buildings are architecture, first of all. So there’s lots of buildings that have nothing to do with architecture. They have to do with economics. They have to do with an enclosure, but I wouldn’t consider them works of architecture. To be a work of architecture is creating a work of art.
Recorded on: 9/17/07