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A chapel in a meeting room


Le Corbusier's Modulor system
Richard Meier Architect
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Well, Le Corbusier has always been an influence because of the... you know, the... not just his philosophy on the five points of architecture, the separation of skin and structure, which has always been important to me, but also the quality of space that exists in Le Corbusier. Early on and for a very short time in fact, I used the Modulor as a dimensioning system and then threw it away because it doesn't work in every condition. In any event, but what it does is always relates you to human scale, which is what's important about the Modulor. It's based on a 6 foot policeman, I'm 6 foot but not a policeman and... and it gives you, you know, this desk is 2 foot 3 and-a-half. It's a Modulor dimension... that... it's the right height. You know, I don't like 2 foot 4. You know, it's just a little bit too high, so there are aspects of the Modulor which I find, you know, very important, as it were and... and it's really having to do with human scale and when you think of Le Corbusier's work and you go into it, if you haven't been there and you've only experienced the building through photographs, you're amazed at the intimacy of it.  How it's a real human scale. You go into Ronchamp, I mean besides being an extraordinary work from the sculptural point of view, it's the... the way in which the moulding of that space and its relationship to human scale and light is made.  So it's the quality of light, the quality of human scale, it's the... so many aspects, you know.  And the richness of Le Corbusier's work.

[Q] But also formally you were very attracted.


[Q] To details - rails and ramps and...

Yeah. Well, the whole idea of promenade, of movement, and how you move through space and the use of ramps as a... as one way of moving through space seems to me to be, you know, very important. It began with the Athenaeum in New Harmony, Indiana, which is really all about movement. It's about how you move through the building and see the landscape in this unique setting. Fortunately, the building had no real program, and it's about the experience of being there, and how that experience of being there has to do with the Wabash River, the fields, the town and in a sense, the building frames views and enables you to understand the uniqueness of this place.

The prominent American architect Richard Meier (b. 1934) is best known for the Getty Centre in Los Angeles, one of his many public projects which broke from his usual style of sleek, white buildings. In all his work – carried out with characteristic refined style – he refuses to bend to the trends of modern architecture. He has won many awards including the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, considered the field's highest honour.

Listeners: Massimo Vignelli

Massimo Vignelli was born in Milan and studied architecture in Milan and Venice. He is the co-founder and President of Vignelli Associates and Chief Executive Officer of Vignelli Designs in New York. His work includes graphic and corporate identity programs, publication designs, architectural graphics, interiors, furniture, and consumer product designs. His work has been published and exhibited throughout the world and entered in the permanent collections of several museums. He has taught and lectured on design in the major cities and universities in the United States and abroad. Included among Massimo Vignelli's awards are the Gran Premio Triennale di Milano, 1964, the Compasso d'Oro, awarded by the Italian Association for Industrial Design (ADI), 1964 and 1998, the 1982 Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, the 1983 AIGA Gold Medal, the 1992 Interior Product Designers Fellowship of Excellence, The 1995 Brooklyn Museum Design Award for Lifetime Achievement and The 2001 Russel Wright Award for Design Excellence.

Tags: Athenaeum, Wabash River, Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, Le Corbusier

Duration: 2 minutes, 54 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2007

Date story went live: 23 December 2008