The master architect behind L.A.'s Getty Center and Barcelona's Museum of Contemporary Art, Richard Meier, makes a case for minimalism.
When I was a boy, there was an abandoned stone quarry near my parents' house in New Jersey. I used to ride my bike over there all the time. I loved everything about being there: walking through it, climbing around it, exploring this chasm of gray stone walls and floors. The unity of the material that bound the space amazed me, and yet it never seemed the same any two times that I visited. The stone always looked different depending on the time of day or even the time of year. Light and color played out against the texture of the pale stone--jagged and porous here, smooth and opaque there--casting shadow and radiance and always evolving. The ordinary experience of playing was energized by the silence and oneness of the quarry, and it seemed to me that this was the way a place should be.
Many years after I left my boyhood home, when I was working on the Getty Center, I found myself in a stone quarry in Bagni di Tivoli, Italy, having an argument with John Walsh, the museum director, about furniture. From the blocks of travertine cut for the Getty's exterior were these incredible fifteen-foot-long, six-foot-wide remnants, which I thought would make excellent benches for the museum's entrance. Walsh vigorously disagreed. Reflecting on the argument, I remember he described my approach as a "hostility toward comfort," a remark that is significant to me now only because it is a perfect illustration of the greatest misconception about minimalism. Those who judge minimalism by its appearance alone will call it spartan, austere, even soulless. But art and design are not just about appearances. Ornamentation is not art. Great art is about heightening our experiences. To me, the minimalist aesthetic is the most humanist of all, one that elicits the full power of all our senses. What Le Corbusier called "the spirit of order, a unity of intention" is what allows us to see beauty and to take part in the journeys of our own hearts and minds.
When I look out a window, any window in the world, from Brooklyn to Rome to Fatehpur Sikri, India, I see a concert of light and color working together in ways that cannot be contrived. In my work as an architect I cannot imagine a situation in which I would try to compete with or imitate the environment that surrounds my buildings. My job is to acknowledge nature, to create relationships between the interiors and exteriors, and to bring order in a way that substantiates the spaces we live in and move through. I take the work seriously, but I recognize other styles of art and design. Sometimes I even admire them. I saw some big, soft, comfortable porch chairs on Long Island, New York, some years ago and liked them so much I thought I'd design a contemporary version. I tried it, and the prototypes are sitting in storage, where they will remain. Minimalism is not the only style, but it's my style.
I have been thinking about similar things in my own study as well as in studio project, good lord I stumbled on this passage just now.
Lately I'm learning about space of 'less', following a conception where I see such spaces as territories with low intensity of disturbances , and that results in a stronger sense of self-existance in the people, that they can be better aware of their own senses, hearts & minds. I think this may lead to an architecture which is less on self definition by its form, etc. but more flexibly/differingly defined by individual occupants that inhabit. It possibly shapes a more human built environment.
What say you?
passage from: http://www.esquire.com/style/richard-meier-0908
images from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Richard_Meier_2.JPG & http://www.demaniore.com/opencms/opencms/eng_demanioRe/homePageSezione/magazine/progetti/home/1151330464584.html?breadCrumb=Detail&gallery=1
image edited by DeArasis
posted by afterrabbit