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Building in context


Light and white
Richard Meier Architect
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I think I’ve, you know, always been concerned with light. Even that first little apartment I had on 91st Street, I remember two small rooms but what made it great was, I got East light, I was only on the 3rd floor, I got East light and I got South light in the windows and you know, if you live in New York City, light is so important. I mean, just what people want is space and light and you know, having the sunlight coming in and working there during the day as we do here with the South light coming in. I go around opening the blinds. People on the computer don’t like it because they can’t see their screen so well. But I want to see that light come in. It’s so beautiful, the way it changes during the day and the way you see the sun set over the Hudson River. It’s magical, you know, it’s extraordinary. Half the... most of New York City, you don’t see this kind of light over the Hudson unless you’re on the Westside. It’s much better than being on the Eastside though. I’m never up early enough to see the sunrise but it’s not as dramatic as the sunset and I think it’s just this, I’ve always felt this wonderful quality of changing light that we have all around us and every place is different because of the quality of light. You know the quality of light in New York is not the same as the quality of light in Los Angeles, totally different.

[Q] I heard you talking about the white is never the same because of the light.

That’s right, well, you know, the whiteness which we look at. Look at it in this room, at the different, different intonations of white. Look in the office, how the light changes and the colour changes and you appreciate that colour. Colour is all around us. Look at this beautiful pink sweater this young lady is wearing. You know, the whiteness enables you to perceive and appreciate all of the colour that’s around us.  It's the colour of nature, the colour that comes from everything. The buildings don’t have to absorb that colour. They have to reflect that colour. They have to allow us to appreciate so much colour and you paint these walls a dark colour, you lose everything, you know, and it’s like gloom as far as I’m concerned.

[Q] So white is all colours.

White is all colours, right.

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.

Duration: 2 minutes, 35 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2007

Date story went live: 23 December 2008