Update: This story includes new details on Richard Meier’s involvement with the firm.
Richard Meier—the high-profile architect six women accused of sexual misconduct—is permanently stepping away from day-to-day activities at Richard Meier & Partners Architects, the firm he founded in 1963. A slew of promotions have been announced at the company’s New York office, and Meier will support the leadership transitions and “remain available to colleagues and clients who seek his vast experience and counsel,” according to a news release.
Post #MeToo, the 83-year-old architect is essentially entering forced semi-retirement.
According to a spokesperson, Meier “will not be handling the day-to-day administrative and business operations that he used to handle and won’t be in the office every day. What he will be doing is supporting the leadership transition, maintaining contact with the staff as requested, and speaking with existing and potential clients in an effort to drive and grow the business.”
Associate partner Bernard Karpf, who has been with Richard Meier & Partners since 1988, has been promoted to managing principal of the New York office and will oversee business development and manage the firm; Michael Palladino will continue to lead West Coast activities. Vivian Lee, Reynolds Logan, and Dukho Yeon have been promoted to principals.
After five women accused the architect of sexual misconduct—the allegations include groping, exposing himself, requesting that a woman undress herself, and pulling a woman onto a bed—the architect took a six-month leave of absence. Citing the allegations, the New York Chapter of the AIA rescinded honors for the firm, Cornell University declined gifts from the firm, and Sotheby’s closed an exhibition about his work. Real estate developments designed by Meier scrubbed his name from from their marketing materials.
Meier’s #MeToo allegations also sparked deeper conversations about how to understand and interpret architecture; how firms can better protect their workers from harassment and discrimination; and how to rethink the very design of architecture firms themselves, which lead to abusive power structures.
While the firm says Meier is “stepping away” from the business, exactly how much change will happen at the firm beyond who is in charge is yet to be known. Will the firm’s culture—which enabled Meier’s activities—actually improve?
According to the release, the firm is “engaging professional advisors to facilitate the transition and expects to develop its strategy within the next year.” It also plans to “maintain and develop the rigorous design philosophy that Richard pioneered.”
“It is an honor to lead this talented team as we build upon the body of work we have created over a half-century,” Karpf said in the news release. “Richard’s vision has produced a unique architectural design language that is instantly recognizable and internationally celebrated. I am committed to support both the New York and Los Angeles offices as we continue to evolve and grow.”
While Meier might technically be out, his legacy—for better and for worse—is still very much in.