Richard Meier retires three years after sexual harassment allegations as studio rebrands

Richard Meier portrait

Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect Richard Meier has retired, three years after accusations of sexual harassment were made against him.

Richard Meier & Partners Architects, which he founded in 1963, has been renamed Meier Partners.

But the 86-year-old architect will still be available to consult with clients upon request, his studio confirmed in an announcement on 23 June.

Retirement coincides with practice restructure

Meier temporarily stepped aside from his eponymous firm in March of 2018 after the New York Times published five allegations of sexual abuse by the architect.

Following the scandal, the architect stepped back from the practice in October 2018, with associate partner Bernhard Karpf promoted to managing partner in his stead.

Meier, whose designs include the Getty Centre in Los Angeles and City Hall in The Hague, has now officially retired to coincide with a restructuring of the studio.

Dukho Yeon has been named partner and lead designer after 30 years at the practice. George H Miller, previously managing partner at Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, has been named partner and chief operating officer.

“The future we envision at Meier Partners will build on our proven record of exceptional architecture to create work that is both relevant for our time and meaningful to society,” said Yeon.

“Our talented and fast-growing, reinvigorated team is working on a new generation of projects that I am confident will evolve our legacy and redefine the firm and the industry as we move forward.”

LA office to become new studio

The firm’s Los Angeles office is splitting off to become an independent practice called STUDIOpractice, which will be led by Michael Palladin and Jim Crawford.

“Over the last two decades, our Los Angeles studio has designed a broad range of buildings in the United States and overseas,” said Palladino.

“Along with state-of-the-art drawing, modeling and rendering tools, our team relies heavily on sketches and hand-crafted models to communicate our vision through all phases of the design.”

Accusations of abuse made in 2018

The scandal involving such a highly decorated and influential architect, famous for his particular style of all-white modernism, rocked the architecture world.

Along with the 1984 Pritzker Prize, Meier was awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 1988 and both the AIA Gold Medal and the Praemium Imperiale in 1997.

Five women, four of whom were former employees, came forward with accusations of sexual harassment that included Meier groping their underwear and exposing himself to them. In one account, a woman claimed he dragged her into a bedroom and held her down on a bed.

In a statement at the time, Meier said he was “deeply troubled and embarrassed” by the women’s accounts. “While our recollections may differ, I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by my behavior,” he added.

News of the allegations against Meier came months after the revelations made against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, who is now in prison on charges on charges of rape and sexual assault.

The revelations sparked the #MeToo movement of women sharing the abuses they’d experienced in the workplace.

In response, Dezeen columnist Anna Winston asked if architecture had its own Weinstein hiding in its ranks. A subsequent Dezeen survey revealed a “shocking” lack of women in top architecture jobs, prompting our Move the Needle initiative to highlight gender imbalance in the design industry.

The main image of Richard Meier is by Silja Magg.

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