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Richard Meier: Developers need incentives to create public spaces

by Magali Robathan | 20 Oct 2016
Whenever we do a project we think about how that project will give something to the public in general
– Richard Meier

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Meier has spoken about the importance of good quality public space in cities, arguing that there should be incentives at government level for developers to incorporate public space into their projects.

Speaking exclusively to CLAD, the Getty Center architect said: “The problem is that developers really have no incentive to create public space. It's rare that a developer is going to give up space on their project for the public, which is unfortunate because what we need in our cities is more public space, more open space – that could be related to the buildings and to the context in which they are built.”

Meier gave the example of the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, which was designed by his practice and which opened in 1995, as a successful public space. “The museum is very popular but so is the plaza in front of the building where every kid growing up in Barcelona brings his skateboard and skates there. It's a very active and well used public space.

“Whenever we do a project we think about how that project will give something to the public in general.”

Asked about the biggest mistakes made by architects, Meier said, “It has to be not thinking clearly about the context in which you are working.

“There are some buildings in New York that are just out of scale. I look out of my window and I see the Empire State Building, and then I see other buildings that make the Empire State Building look small. Some of these buildings are out of context. Just because you can build 100 stories high, it doesn't mean it’s appropriate.”

Meier is currently working on the redevelopment of the historic private members' Surf Club in Miami into the Surf Club Four Seasons Hotel and Residences, featuring two transparent 12 storey residential towers and an 80-room hotel. It will also incorporate a private members' club, two restaurants, four swimming pools, a spa and fitness center, more than 40 beach cabanas. and a park and oceanside gardens

In its heyday, the Surf Club, designed by Russell Pancoast in 1930, was frequented by celebrities including Frank Sinatra, Winston Churchill and Elizabeth Taylor. It has been restored as part of the project and acts as an entrance and lobby for the hotel and residential towers.

“This project means a lot to me,” said Meier. “I love the fact we're building on the Atlantic Ocean looking out to sea. The starting point was the location, the site, the context. It's a terrific site.

“Our design is very open, very transparent. It's a very airy and friendly environment.”

Richard Meier  architecture  public space  design  Pritzker Prize  Surf Club  Four Seasons 
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Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Meier has spoken about the importance of good quality public space in cities, arguing that there should be incentives at government level for developers to incorporate public space into their projects. Speaking exclusively to CLAD, the Getty Center architect said: “The problem is that developers really have no incentive to create public space. It's rare that a developer is going to give up space on their
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Richard Meier told CLAD that 'what we need in our cities is more public space' / Silja Magg
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