Richard Meier cannot think up a new explanation for his use of white.
Question: What are the recurring themes in your work?
Richard Meier: Well there are many. The relationship of the . . . of the building to its environment is critical. The context – where it is. What that context implies in terms of the work. How do you make public space in any work? What are you . . . What are you giving to the city? Not just to the building, but outside of the building – how is this contributing to life that’s all around us? And also whether there’s a sense of movement through the building – the sense of promenade, or sense of changes of small scale spaces to large scale spaces. Private spaces and public spaces – how are these expressed? Well all of these are my concerns in any building.
Question: Why white?
Richard Meier: Why white? You know how many times I’ve been asked that question? Thousands. And so I keep trying to think of a new answer, a different answer for the same question because I’ve been asked it so many times. Unfortunately I can’t think of it . . . of a different answer. So I have to give you what I’ve said before, and that is that first of all, white is all colors. It’s color all around us. There’s color in nature. There’s a color that . . . the changing color of the day; the colors of the seasons; the color of what people are wearing. Everything has color, and the whiteness reflects that color. It refracts that color, and you become even more highly sensitive to the color that’s all around you because of the whiteness of the environment. But also, and of equal importance to me, is that whiteness expresses the architectural ideas in the clearest way – the relationship of one plane to another; the relationship of linear elements to plainer elements; the way the space is modulated; the openness and closure, the transparency and opacity that exists in defining the space. All of these things become clear because of the whiteness of the buildings.
Recorded on: 9/17/07