Architect As Educator

Architect Richard Meier ’56, B.Arch. ’57, visits an architecture studio class Oct. 17 in Milstein Hall, where as an assignment students had prepared drawings interpreting Meier’s designs. Photo credit: Robert Barker/University Photography

We miss our 2012 interns! But we stay attuned to their educational activities. If we squint hard enough looking at the photo to the right, showing one of the most prominent architects in the world speaking to a group of architecture students at Cornell University, we almost think we can see Chi-Chi

Maybe not. But it is worth a quick read to understand the value of the exercise Mr. Meier has engaged his students in:

Meier, whose iconic building designs include the Getty Center in Los Angeles, is the only Cornellian awarded the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, considered the field’s highest honor. Since receiving the prize in 1984, Meier has been recognized with the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal and awards from the Japanese and French governments and the Royal Institute of British Architects.

“He’s a giant. We are all basking in the glow of his legacy,” said Kent Kleinman, the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Planning. “For him to come back and share his life as an architect with the next generation of architects is really an incredible privilege.”

Meier’s visit began with a discussion of a facet of his creativity never before seen in public: his work in the medium of collage. At the exhibition “Richard Meier: Artistic Conscience” in the John Hartell Gallery in Sibley Dome, he discussed a displayed series of collages of ticket stubs, decals and newspaper clippings produced in sketchbooks during his world travels.

“It’s a pleasure for me to share these collages with you. I usually don’t,” Meier told a group of 100 students and faculty at his gallery talk. “It’s a private thing that I do. My architecture is public. This is private.”

The colorful, spontaneous collages represent a sharp contrast with the ordered, geometrical consistency and stark whiteness of Meier’s architecture. Students repeatedly asked him about his trademark color choice throughout the day.

During a visit to a graduate studio class in Milstein Hall, Meier explained his insistence on a monochromatic style. “Architecture is about light. The whiteness reflects and refracts the light,” he said. “Look outside at the beautiful autumn trees. There’s nothing architecture could do to be as beautiful as that.”

The studio Meier visited is co-taught by Assistant Professor Caroline O’Donnell, who was appointed the first Richard Meier Professor of Architecture in 2011. O’Donnell had asked her students to produce two drawings of a building Meier had designed. On Wednesday they presented their drawings to Meier, and he offered feedback on their interpretations.

Read the whole article here.

2 thoughts on “Architect As Educator

  1. Pingback: Waste Reduction By Altruistic Design « Raxa Collective

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