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Why Cornell?


'I'm going to be an architect'
Richard Meier Architect
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When I was 14 years old I had a small table, like a draughting board, in the basement of my parent's house. It was a little damp down there but it was okay because it was... no one bothered me and I would make little model boats and model aeroplanes, that's, you know, that's what 14-year-olds did, and talking about books, I read Frank Lloyd Wright's books when I was 14 years old and I remember looking at House Beautiful at Frank Lloyd Wright houses and trying to, you know, make a little model from the magazine article. And at that time, there weren't so many magazines and those that one got, you sort of, really looked at carefully. And I remember that I thought this was... it was one of the prairie houses of Frank Lloyd Wright's... I thought this was amazing. And my parents were very social people and they always had people over for dinner. Their friends came to dinner quite often and I remember they always used to ask me, you know: 'What are you going to do when you grow up?' At a certain point you can't just say: 'I don't know'. You'd sound dumb, so I said: 'I am going to be an architect'. They said: 'What?' 'I'm going to be an architect'. Well, they didn't know any architects and I said... so as it went on, and I kept saying it, you know, at 14 and 15, I never questioned it. I never thought about anything else. I said that's what I want to do, that's what I'm going to do. I thought, boy, was I lucky... was I lucky to be able at that time to say this is what I want to do and do it.

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: House Beautiful Magazine, Frank Lloyd Wright

Duration: 2 minutes, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2007

Date story went live: 23 December 2008