“Meier 75” Installation Celebrates Promised Gift of Two Richard Meier Drawings

The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum will present a special installation in its Great Hall to celebrate Richard Meier’s promised gift of two architectural drawings of the J. Paul Getty Center in Los Angeles. Meier is presenting the works to Cooper-Hewitt on the occasion of his 75th birthday and the publication of “Richard Meier, Architect Volume 5” (Rizzoli USA, Oct. 2009).

Richard Meier
Richard Meier (American, b. 1934), Site Study 1, for J. Paul Getty Center, Los Angeles, California, 1984–97 New York, NY, September 4, 1986. Graphite on tracing paper, 61×94 cm (24×37 in.) Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution. Promised gift of Richard Meier

“Meier 75,” on view from Oct. 1 to Oct. 12, includes drawings and models for three major projects—the Smith House in Darien, Conn.; the Getty Center; and the Jubilee Church, in a suburb of Rome—as well as three collage works by Meier. The installation is curated by Gail S. Davidson, curator and head of the Drawings, Prints and Graphic Design Department.

During a career spanning more than 50 years, Meier has placed his unique stamp on every type of architectural project, including private residences and housing complexes, corporate headquarters and commercial buildings, universities, seminaries, churches and museums. Inspired by the ideas and works of Le Corbusier and other early modernist architects, Meier sees a distinction between architecture and nature, viewing buildings as vessels through which one experiences the natural world.

“It is my great pleasure to present the Getty Center drawings to Cooper-Hewitt,” said Meier. “As these are the first of my drawings to enter the museum’s collection, the gift is a special delight and honor for me.”

On display will be a model for the Smith House (1965-67), a domestic project that first brought the architect to public attention. The white walls of the house reflect the play of light and shadow and the colors of nature from both interior and exterior sources, and they exemplify the importance of light in all of Meier’s work.

A highlight of the installation will be the two architectural drawings of the Getty Center, which will be acquired by the museum’s Drawings, Prints and Graphic Design Department. The acclaimed Getty Center complex (1984-97), which straddles a hilltop in Los Angeles, includes a series of pavilions laid out according to function, with the public museum buildings on the southeastern, city-side of the hill, and the more private buildings on the ocean-side. The drawings, “Getty Center, Site Study 1” and “Design for Museum Entrance Area, Getty Center,” and the finished structures illustrate Meier’s practice of employing regulating grids generated from site-specific details, as well as the architectural promenade or circulation ramp on the interior and exterior of buildings and the cantilevered entrance marquees. A model of the Getty Center will accompany the drawings.

Two drawings and a model of Meier’s Jubilee Church (1996-2004) will also be on display. The project, commissioned by the Roman Archdiocese in honor of the millennium, includes a functioning church and a secular four-story community center. Three soaring, brilliant white concrete shells, made of precast concrete blocks composed of crushed Carrara marble, form the walls of the adjacent nave, baptistery and daily chapel.

Finally, the installation will include the collage works “Libertas” (1998), “Max haus” (1998) and “Art” (1987), which offer a unique view into Meier’s architectural working process.

About Richard Meier
Meier has been recognized with architecture’s highest honors, including the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, the AIA Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects, the Gold Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Praemium Imperiale from the Japanese government and the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects.

He serves on the board of trustees for Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and the American Academy in Rome, and he is also a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the French and Belgian Academies d’Architecture, and a member of the Bund Deutscher Architekten and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

About Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution

The museum is located at 2 East 91st Street at Fifth Avenue in New York City. Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Public transit routes include the 4, 5 and 6 subways (86th or 96th Street stations) and the Fifth and Madison Avenue buses. General admission, $15; senior citizens and students ages 12 and older, $10. Cooper-Hewitt and Smithsonian members and children younger than age 12 are admitted free. For further information, please call (212) 849-8300 or visit http://www.cooperhewitt.org.