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Richard Meier accused of sexual harassment by five women [Updated]

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The architect is taking a six-month leave from his firm

Architect Richard Meier stands at the Getty Center in Los Angeles in November 1997, a month before it opened to the public.
Architect Richard Meier stands at the Getty Center in Los Angeles in November 1997, a month before it opened to the public.
AP Photo/John Hayes

Updated: On March 13, Meier announced a six-month leave of absence from his firm and changes to day-to-day leadership. In advance of the six-month marker, Curbed reached out to the firm for an update on his return. A spokesperson told Curbed that Meier remains on leave. We will update this story once an official announcement is made.

Noted American architect and Pritzker Prize winner Richard Meier has been accused of sexual harassment by five women, the New York Times reports.

Four of the women worked for Meier and a fifth woman met the architect while Meier worked on the Getty Center, one of his best known projects and an LA landmark about to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

According to the Times, two of the women associated with Meier’s firm described being sent to the architect’s New York apartment, where he exposed himself. Another woman who worked for the firm said she recalled Meier grabbing her underwear at a company holiday party, while a fourth woman who worked for Meier said she was asked to undress at his apartment so she could be photographed.

A fifth woman not associated with the firm accused Meier of pulling her onto a bed at his home during an incident in the 1980s in LA.

The Getty Center in Los Angeles.
The Getty Center in Los Angeles.
Michael Gordon/Shutterstock

In light of these allegations, the 83-year-old architect is taking a six-month leave from his firm, Richard Meier & Partners Architects, where he has served as founder and managing partner.

In a statement to the Times, Meier said:

I am deeply troubled and embarrassed by the accounts of several women who were offended by my words and actions. While our recollections may differ, I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by my behavior.

I am leaving the company in the hands of a dedicated and outstanding senior management team, which has spent the past three decades serving our clients and building our firm’s success.

After the allegations were published in the Times, the J. Paul Getty Trust canceled a dinner originally scheduled for next week in New York, where they’d intended to honor Meier for the Getty Center’s 20th anniversary.

Ron Hartwig, VP of Communications at the J. Paul Getty Trust, said in a statement to Curbed:

The Getty was deeply dismayed to learn of the serious allegations involving Richard Meier. The Getty is committed to a safe and respectful workplace for all.

Meier’s alma mater, Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, Meier’s alma mater, has published an open letter on its website, notably declining Meier’s endowment for the position of the “Richard Meier Chair of the Department of Architecture” just announced in January.

In the note, Dean Kent Kleinman writes:

I am deeply disturbed to learn of the allegations of sexual misconduct by Richard Meier (B.Arch. ‘56), which were reported in an article in today’s New York Times. As one of our most well-known alumni, Richard Meier has been associated with Cornell University and the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning through his gifts that support students and faculty. Although he has apologized, the reported behavior is unacceptable.

Therefore, we will decline his new gift to name the chair of the Department of Architecture, and we are cancelling the event that had been planned for next week to celebrate the gift. We will swiftly explore what additional actions are appropriate with regard to endowments for professorships and scholarships previously donated to Cornell.

Sotheby’s is the latest institution to cut ties with Meier following the allegations. The auction house is closing an exhibition of the architect’s collages and silk-screens, which opened at New York’s S2 Gallery on February and was scheduled to run through March 29. The decision, first reported by ARTnews, was made “in consultation with the Meier family.”

Meanwhile, the Pritzker Architecture Prize, which Meier won in 1984, told the Times that it would let Meier’s award stand because it was given “based on his architectural merit at that time.”

On March 22, the American Institute of Architects (AIA)’s New York chapter announced it has rescinded the 2018 Design Awards given to Richard Meier and Peter Marino in January, citing “allegations of inappropriate and unacceptable behavior.”

The organization also shared plans to offer workshops on “creating harassment free workplaces” and lobby for “updates to official AIA policies and procedures to make it explicit that harassment is unacceptable.”

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Anyone with information about alleged misconduct in the architecture, design, and development industries can contact Curbed’s editor-in-chief, Kelsey Keith, at kelsey@curbed.com. We are accustomed to discussing sensitive information and stories over the phone, so feel free to send an email asking for a phone call. You can also send tips using the app Signal, which encrypts text messages and voice calls. Tip Curbed via Signal here: 267-714-4132.