Richard Meier

When should an architect leave a firm to be on his own?

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Richard Meier discusses when an architect can chart their own course.

Richard Meier

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: When is it appropriate for an architect to leave a firm and become self-employed?

Richard Meier: Well most states – I know New York state – requires three years after graduation from college . . . three years of practice before you’re able to take the license examination. And you take the license examination, you may not pass all seven parts or nine parts or whatever it is. So that’s another year. So that’s four years after architecture school before you’re licensed to practice architecture. And then you have to find some willing person who’s gonna ask you to do something for them, and that takes a little bit of time usually. So it’s a long haul. It’s a . . . It’s a 10, 12 year period before you’re really able to work on your own.


Recorded on: 9/17/07