Contemporary Architecture

Richard Meier – Getty Art Centre


  • Born on October 12, 1934 in Newark, New Jersey
  • 1957 – completed B.Arch at Cornell University in Ithaca
  • 1984 – awarded the Pritzker Prize
  • 1989 – awarded a royal gold medal by the Royal   Institute of    British Architects


  • Main figure in the “New York Five”
  • Main concepts: Light, Color and Place.
  • Main focus – placeness: “What is it that makes a space a place.”
  • Plain geometry, layered definition of spaces and effects of light and shade.
  • Forms interlaced in landscape.
  • Usually designs white Neo-Corbusian forms with enameled panels and glass

About the building:

  • Exploited the two naturally occurring ridges by overlaying two grids along these axes.
  • Along one axis : galleries
  • Along the other axis : administrative buildings.
  • The primary grid structure is a 30-inch square; most wall and floor elements are 30-inch squares or some derivative thereof.
  • Six buildings on 124 acres (50 hectares) :
    • Getty Conservation Institute
    • Getty Education Institute for the Arts
    • Getty Grant Program
    • Getty Information Institute
    • J. Paul Getty Trust, the Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities
    • J. Paul Getty Museum
  • It is architecture for the 21st century as imagined in the early 20th century.
  • There are no diversionary pediments and keystones, only suave geometries and rigorous details.
  • Richard Meier, designed the building in a way that it offers framed panoramic views of the city.
  • “the most complex task imaginable,“ in it was Mr. Meier’s goal to design six separate buildings, each with its individual purpose and architectural identity, and yet to produce “a feeling of intimacy and coherence” among them.
  • The museum has a seven-story deep underground parking garage with over 1,200 parking spaces.
  • Automated driverless three –car tram.
  • The 134,000-square-foot Central Garden at the Getty Center is the work of artist Robert Irwin.
  • Throughout the campus, numerous fountains provide white noise as a background
  • Five pavilions around a garden courtyard, interconnected by walkways, some open air.
  • Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the gods from whom Meier claims stylistic influence, and the basic form of this building — a five- story cylinder whose salient interior feature is a broad ramp that follows the building’s curve as it descends — suggests Wright’s Guggenheim Museum with the sides straightened and one large slice of the layer cake removed.


Three major architectural materials:

  • Stone – beige-colored, cleft-cut, textured, fossilized travertine catches the bright Southern California light
  • Glass
  • Concrete and steel with either travertine or aluminium cladding.

Abstract collages of interlocking white-metal-clad boxes and curved white-metal-clad walls, with nothing but dark punched windows and steel stair rails for exterior ornament.


  • Galleries, offices, and the auditorium lead out to courtyards and terraces; all offices receive natural light.
  • First floor galleries house light-sensitive art, such as illuminated manuscripts, furniture or photography.
  • Computer-controlled skylights on the second floor.
  • The second floors are connected by a series of glass enclosed bridges and open terraces.
  • Most Sophisticated Computerized Lighting System Ever Installed In An Art Gallery.
  • Photo sensors located throughout the galleries:  measure and monitor incoming light on upper level of the museum.
  • 22 skylit galleries showcasing the museum’s priceless painting collections.
  • To counteract the damaging effects of direct sunlight, an elaborate configuration of shades and louvers were installed throughout the museum’s galleries and common areas to direct and control the stream of incoming light.


  • Getty Center portrays three key points that characterize good architecture: interaction, consistency and unity
  • The structure is clear and decipherable, it is complex in plan and overly rich in texture. The play of volumes and proportions, manifested in the cascade of terraces and balconies, flow of ramps, galleries, arcades and staircases, weave the interplay of nature and architecture.

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Contemporary Architecture

Richard Meier – Athenium


  • Meier was born in Newark, New Jersey.
  • He earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University in 1957,
  • Worked for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill briefly in 1959
  • Then for Marcel Breuer for three years
  • Started his own practice in New York in 1963.
  • Identified as one of The New York Five in 1972
  • His commission of the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California catapulted his popularity among the mainstream.
  • Richard Meier & Partners Architects has offices in New York and Los Angeles with current projects ranging from China and Tel Aviv to Paris and Hamburg.


  • In 1984, Mr. Richard Meier was awarded the Pritzker  Architecture Prize
  • In the same year,  he was selected architect for the prestigious commission to design the new $1 billion Getty Center in Los Angeles, California.
  • Included in “New York Five”, alongside
  • Peter Eisenman, John Hejduk, Michael Graves,Charles Gwathmey
  • In 1997, he was awarded the AIA Gold Medal
  • Meier is a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council
  • Praemium Imperiale from Japenese Government
  • Honorary degrees from various institutes

Design philosophy:

  • Richard Meier usually designs white Neo-Corbusian forms with enameled panels and glass.
  • These structure usually play with the linear relationships of ramps and handrails.
  • Although all have a similar look, Richard Meier manages to generate endless variations on his singular theme
  • Three most significant concepts :  Light, Color and Place.
  • Plain geometry, layered definition of spaces and effects of light and shade, used to create clear and comprehensible spaces.
  • His work also reflects the influences of other designers such as Mies Van der Rohe and, in some instances, Frank Lloyd Wright.


  • Smith House, Darien, Connecticut,1965–1967
  • Bronx Developmental Center, The Bronx, New York, 1976
  • High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia,1983
  • Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, Barcelona, Spain,1995
  • Getty Center, Los Angeles, California, 1997
  • Jubilee Church, Rome, Italy 2003
  • Italcementi ITC Laboratory, Italy, 2005-09
  • Brodrum Houses, Turkey,2007-10


  • The Atheneum (1975-1979)
  • It received the 2008 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Twenty-five Year Award.
  • Tourist and Information Center
  • Situated on the banks of the Wabash River on the outskirts of the historic city of New Harmony.
  • It functions as the starting point for tours
  • a center for visitor orientation and cultural community events and it houses exhibits on the communal history of New Harmony, a large theatre, and the Museum Shop.
  • The Atheneum’s galleries also accommodate receptions and meetings, allowing the structure to participate in the vitality of the community.
  • Visitors arriving by boat, land on a path that leads through a field to the building.
  • A three story plane set at forty-five degree inclination to the podium, acknowledges the point of arrival.
  • Setting the three-story building diagonally to the river, gives the project a dynamic dimension as a departure point for the tour path
  • Once the visitor crosses the threshhold, the entry box propels him to the internal circulation ramp.
  • From here, the internal circulation to the building is a continuous experience.
  • From the exhibiton space, on the second level, the visitor can look back to the route he has travelled, through staggered interior slots and windows as essential elements.
  • The uppermost roof terrace presents a panoramic vista of the town.
  • Visitors descend by the way of a second ramp,this one elongated and stepped,an uncoiled version of the interior one,  leading out of the building into New  Harmony.
  • Here, “sense of place” is achieved through a series of visual, physical or psychological experiences which gradually establish a relationship to the past, represented by the historic city.
  • Porcelain panels,clear glass,constant play of wall thickness,the breadth of vistas,the height of the columns and openings which interconnect with one another,all create dynamic facades that change according to the interior and exterior experience of the building.

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Contemporary Architecture

The Ara Pacis Museum – Richard Meier

Once again we are in the city of  Rome. A city which can be undoubtedly called the capital of the ancient world. Like before I will be discussing a contemporary museum from this city, the Ara Pacis museum or Museo dell’Ara Pacis by Richard Meier. The New york five architect came with a similar white puristic architecture form for the museum too. This is in fact said to be the first modern building in Rome after 1930! Well there is a lot of controversy behind this project and it seems the whole landscape is going to change in order to give the Ara Pacis the due respect it deserves.So have a look at the snaps I had managed and also a little info on the building. (Thank you arcspace for the info on this project)

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Richard Meier & Partners
Ara Pacis Museum
Rome, ItalyThe Ara Pacis Museum, located along the Tiber River, near the Ponte Cavour, on the western edge of the Piazza Augusto Imperatore, is an integral part of the urban context of the Augustean Area.
The clarity of the volumes and the building’s proportions relate in scale to Rome’s ancient structures.

The Museum is designed to house the ancient relic, the Ara Pacis Augustae, a sacrificial altar dating to 9 B.C., originally housed in a building designed by Vittorio Ballio Morpurgo in 1938.
The only surviving part of the Morpurgo structure is a low travertine wall that Mussolini had engraved with the “Res Gestae” (the Acts of the Divine Augustus).
The new design by Richard Meier protects and enhances the relic.

Building materials include glass and concrete and an indigenous fine beige Roman travertine.
The predominant feature is a13.5 meters high and 50 meters long glass curtain wall.

The 8.5 meter high Entry Hall, defined by four slender columns in reinforced concrete, finished with white waxed marble plaster, leads to the Main Hall which houses the Ara Pacis.

The entrance space with its subdued lighting, in contrast to the expansive top-lighting in the Great Hall, encourages a natural progression and circulation. Skylights were used to obtain the most natural lighting and to eliminate “false shadows”.

Although housing and protecting the ancient altar was the main focus of this museum, the building also provides 700 square meters space for temporary exhibitions and installations dedicated to archaeological themes, as well as a digital library of Augustan culture with state-of-the-art technology.

An outdoor roof terrace above the auditorium is an essential part of the circulation of the museum. It includes a contiguous bar and café with views over the Mausoleum of Augustus to the east and the Tiber River to the west.

The Ara Pacis Museum is the first work of modern architecture in the Historic Center of Rome since the 1930’s.
The altar, which has not been moved from its original location, has been protected during construction and will be unveiled for the first time in six years on 22 September, 2005 on the occasion of the Emperor Augustus’s birthday.
It will be recovered with a more transparent protective cover for the duration of construction.

The inauguration is planned for the Birthday of Rome on April 21, 2006.Total Floor Area: 4,250 square meters