Discussion: View Thread

The Richard Meier case

  • 1.  The Richard Meier case

    Posted 10-22-2018 08:13
    I regret that I have taken my eye off the road and have not over the last few months followed the Richard Meier case and in particular what measures, if any, the College of Fellows has taken to censure his behavior. I am prompted to bring this up by reading Stella Lee's article in the New York Times lamenting the tepid response of the profession to these egregious acts.  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/12/opinion/richard-meier-metoo-moment.html?module=inline
    As many of the letters in response to the article testify, this case goes well beyond Meier himself, sexually aggressive and abusive behavior appearing to be a pervasive trait in many of our professional leaders.
    I would appreciate someone bringing me up to date on this - and not letting the matter fade into oblivion (as I unfortunately allowed myself to do over the summer).
    Hubert Murray FAIA
    T | 617.492.3532     M | 617.794.4600

  • 2.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 10-23-2018 18:53
    ​I think it is worthwhile for the AIA to address each individual who have been accused of such behavior and to let them know how unacceptable it is. The outdated concept of the 'star architect' is one that helps to permeate this exact behavior and as such it is time for us to focus our attention on all aspects of our work. Both the technologist and manager as well as the designer all need equal emphasis and should all be accorded equal recognition, promotion and reward. By diluting the power of the 'star architect' in our profession and a change of focus to all aspects of our work can we disempower architects who use their fame to behave badly.

    It's time for all of us to recast the roles of our profession.

    David Swartz FAIA
    Senior Partner
    HLW International LLP
    Santa Monica CA

  • 3.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 10-23-2018 19:13
    See the attached link:  Richard Meier steps down following sexual harassment allegations
    Dezeen remove preview
    Richard Meier steps down following sexual harassment allegations
    Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Meier is leaving his eponymous firm to be spearheaded by new management, following the accusations of sexual harassment made against him earlier this year. Richard Meier & Partners Architects announced today, 9 October 2018, that the founder is taking a permanent "step back" from the firm, seven months after the New York Times published allegations against him from five women.
    View this on Dezeen >

    The NYT reported this a couple of weeks ago

    Edmond Gauvreau, FAIA
    Washington, DC

  • 4.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-09-2019 07:31

    In an attempt to keep a discussion on sexism and abuse going, I published an article last weekend on Common Edge. All thoughts welcome.

    The Shitty Architect: A #MeToo Short Story

    Common Edge remove preview
    The Shitty Architect: A #MeToo Short Story
    The time we saw Evan hitting on Ada, he was a floundering designer and she an almost-architect. Some of us in the studio thought he'd fallen in lust. Most predicted she'd fall out of favor. What we didn't know was how oddly their fling would end, or how quickly things would collapse.
    View this on Common Edge >

    Richard Buday FAIA
    Archimage, Inc.
    Houston TX

  • 5.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-13-2019 13:00
    Great story - maybe a few more endings like that will wake up more practitioners!

    Edmond Gauvreau, FAIA
    Washington, DC

  • 6.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-14-2019 18:56

    There is no place in any professional or personal group to accept "sexually aggressive and abusive behavior" Yet, I regret that colleagues are asking for rescinding professional awards to architects that may have displayed such behavior.  The awards are for their work, not their behavior. If this should be a yard stick, lets banish all work from Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.


    Umberto Dindo, FAIA


    Dindo Architect P.C.

    372 Central Park West 10H

    New York, NY 10025

    T: +1212 864-1230

    Email: udindo@dindo.net 


    "Observations in India (2017) by Umberto Dindo on Amazon:



  • 7.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-14-2019 19:27
    Edited by Richard Buday 01-14-2019 19:58

    You bring up an issue insufficiently discussed in this debate: How to evaluate or re-evaluate works by alleged offenders. Daniela Solarie, daughter of Paolo Soleri, had an interesting quote about her being sexually molested by her father. I'm not sure everyone can, or should, compartmentalize, though.

    "...unless a work is an extension or expression of an individual's antisocial behaviors, or enriches and affirms those, I need to assess that work separately from its maker."

    Sexual abuse: It's you, him, and his work

    Medium remove preview
    Sexual abuse: It's you, him, and his work
    Condemnation of sexual harassment and abuse is having a moment, and that's reason to cheer. But let's not kid ourselves, the very...
    View this on Medium >


    Richard Buday FAIA
    Archimage, Inc.
    Houston TX

  • 8.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-14-2019 19:31
    From one perspective, rescinding awards is an extreme measure because they are given for architectural achievement.  I agree that if that AIA rescinded awards because of reprehensible behavior, a number of AIA Gold Medal recipients would have their names removed from the wall at AIA National.
    On the other hand, those same employees who were harassed probably had roles in producing the projects that enabled the name partner to  gain those honors.  Think about how those employees feel about being used.
    We are open to other options, both short term and long term.

    Edmond Gauvreau, FAIA
    Washington, DC

  • 9.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-14-2019 19:44
    I just read Daniela Soleri's article on her father.....a story that can be repeated with many others in other fields.  One should separate the work from the person to a degree, but they still need to be answerable for their behavior and not just chalk it up to being a great artist.

    Edmond Gauvreau, FAIA
    Washington, DC

  • 10.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-15-2019 18:01

    So is it OK for Harvey Weinstein to win awards for his movies even though? 


    Gerard F.X. "Guy" Geier II, FAIA, FIIDA, LEED AP
    Managing Partner, FXCollaborative Architects LLP
    2018 President, AIANY
    22 West 19 Street, New York, NY 10011, USA
    D +1 646 292 8120 | M +1 917 596 8224
    ggeier@fxcollaborative.com | www.fxcollaborative.com

    We believe in the power of intelligence, intuition, and interconnection to design a better world.

    Carbon Neutral since 2008

  • 11.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-15-2019 18:39

    Yes. It is also important whether all these people have been convicted of a crime or just accused of it. The "Weinstein case' may be a particular instance of a floundering criminal case.


  • 12.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-15-2019 20:53
    This is the Harry Lime line of argument: "You know what the fellow said – in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."
    Graham Greene is way too subtle to deliver the homily of a comprehensive morality that conflates the quality of the creation with the integrity of the creator without inflection but let us agree that it is a matter worthy of more consideration than your remark suggests. Philip Johnson's observation that the Nazis had great graphics is true on one level but hideously ignorant on another. How and where does one draw a distinction between personal behavior, social morality and aesthetics in the pubic realm?

    Hubert Murray FAIA
    Cambridge MA

  • 13.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-16-2019 09:10
    Umberto has a good point.

    Thomas Hirsch, FAIA
    14 North Allen Street
    Madison WI 53726-3924


  • 14.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-16-2019 09:53
    Given the discussion to date, this demonstrates that this issue is a difficult one to address, especially for past injustices.  Rescinding past design awards - not the best option.  Disqualifying from subsequent award juries - an option but requires consideration of a presumption of "innocent until proven guilty".  Rescinding or revoking Fellowship - an issue for the COF to take up in its board and regional council meetings.

    Edmond Gauvreau, FAIA
    Washington, DC

  • 15.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-17-2019 23:11
    I have to admit that I haven’t been following the discussion on Richard Meier, but I’ve got the impression that it’s been rather extensive. So I don’t know what other skeletons in the Fellowship closet have been disclosed. But I can think of at least one honor that deserves recognition with a sense of shame. And the honor in question is well above fellowship. It’s the a Gold Medal, the one awarded to Phillip Johnson. Johnson’s sympathies for the Nazis at the outset of World War II were long known and are now the subject of further explication. True, he made recompense for his earlier indiscretion. All of which brings up the question as to how far we as colleagues attempting to maintain the highest standards of professional conduct can go. Back to Richard Meier, nothing we can further do either lessens or augments the disgrace he’s experienced. We’ve amply expressed ourselves on this matter. Let’s hope we can keep our standards high, as architects no less or more than responsible citizens. Paul Spreiregen FAIA

    Sent from my iPhone

  • 16.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-18-2019 17:34
    "Starchitects" and all architects should be held to a higher moral standard and should be accountable for their conduct in and  out of the office.All accolades for professional accomplishments should be reviewed based upon individual circumstances, legal considerations and those who were impacted. 

  • 17.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-18-2019 18:39
    A moral standard is a bit of an oxymoron, for we'd need a standard to compare to. And once that moral is standardized, it becomes an ethical principle (morals are individual beliefs, while ethics are society's guidelines as written down as codes and laws. https://www.diffen.com/difference/Ethics_vs_Morals). It's curious to me that ethics are only lightly taught in architecture school and barely tested on NCARB exams, much less required for CEUs.

    Nevertheless, what we are getting to in this thread is the idea of cultivating architectural moral values and virtues, which are lacking (in my opinion) in our profession. And therein lies great debates regarding how to do it? (I have some ideas on that topic) and where to do it (I believe it starts in architecture school). To quote a co-author of my own ethics textbook:

    "Professional identity formation is something that takes place over time. It's a conscious effort to become a virtuous individual committed to your profession. It is not true that you learned everything you need to know about being a good person at home or in church or some religious community. Your beliefs and values are important but they are not universally true, nor should they be the basis of every action. Learning to respect the values and world views of others - and learning how to act when these world views clash - requires both ethical knowledge and a virtuous character."

    Excerpt From: Jeffrey Spike, Thomas Cole & Richard Buday. "The Brewsters (Second Edition)." Apple Books. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-brewsters-second-edition/id518101851?mt=11

    Richard Buday FAIA
    Archimage, Inc.
    Houston TX

  • 18.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-23-2019 13:43
    On the broader topic, ethics is defined by moral behavior and activity.  Mistreatment, lying and evasion need not be foremost in anyone's mind, merely reckless and insensitive behavior.  How can an honorable architect function if not with empathy for a users needs supported by fair and professional conduct in all matters.  "None of your business." is not an excuse for unethical conduct.  The higher the AIA rewards and recognizes contribution to the profession, the higher the ethical standard applied.  We count on that.

    James W. Rhodes, FAIA
    Emeritus Architect
    139 North River Drive
    Beacon, NY 12508
    Tel: 845-765-1612

  • 19.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-23-2019 21:57

    While I agree with your sentiment, ethics is not defined by morals. Ethics and morals coexist, but sometimes they compete. Morals are individual, personal, subject to change based on one's life experience. Ethics are societal and codified. Moral virtue sometimes requires one to go against a code of ethics, and sometimes ethics ask one to suspend their moral beliefs.

    Nevertheless, I believe architecture needs to take a good, hard look at its codes of ethics and the moral virtues baked into practitioners as students (mostly unwittingly).

    Richard Buday FAIA
    Archimage, Inc.
    Houston TX

  • 20.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-24-2019 10:28

    I very much appreciate your comment. However, in some circumstances, ethics are defined by morals. If I violate a moral value - honesty - I might also lie to a Client, a Government Official, etc. I believe Ethics are Moral Values in action, ie., are defined by such values. 

    As I look back thru the thread, there are so many deeply felt, meaningful comments from our Colleagues. It seems to me it is time the COF and the AIA take action. We risk the possibility that these type immoral and unethical behaviors are occurring as we write. We need to take action - in my opinion, both regarding design and professional achievement standpoints, but also Fellowship. I understand that Design Awards recognize the project, but they also recognize the Individual or Firm as well. I don't think we should get any recognition for anything or any aspect of our practice, absent conducting ourselves consistent with some standard of moral and ethical behavior.

    Kind Regards,


    Tom E. Lewis, FAIA, Esq.
    Attorney at Law

    General Counsel - The Tallahassee Ballet
    Former Chairman, Tallaassee-Leon County Planning Commission
    Former Chairman, Tallaassee-Leon Count Local Planning Agency
    Former Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator
    Florida Supreme Court Qualified Arbitrator
    3270 Longleaf Road
    Tallahassee, Florida  32310

    CONFIDENTIALITY NOTE: The information contained in this transmission may be privileged and confidential, and is intended only for the use of the individual or entity named above. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error, please immediately reply to the sender that you have received this communication in error and then delete it. Thank you.

    Sent from my iPad

  • 21.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-24-2019 11:27
    Just a comment on Richard Bunday's citation of Albert Speer… Speer wrote a memoir about his work during the Nazi era. He started as an architect but transitioned into Hitler's Minister of Armaments. In the latter capacity he used prison - slave - labor. His memoirs were published in both a German and an English edition, the English edition somewhat different than the German, I believe, written for the two different audiences.

    By the way, in my commentaries I brought up the case of Phillip Johnson's AIA Gold Medal and the fact he was a highly active Nazi sympathizer and supporter, and that he was a writer for one of the publications of the rabid anti-Semite Father Coughlin, who was eventually silenced by the Catholic Church. Doesn't this bother anyone?

    Paul Spreiregen FAIA
    Washington DC

  • 22.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-25-2019 17:53

    Well stated.


    Richard Sundberg, FAIA


    240 2ND AVE SOUTH, SUITE 450, SEATTLE, WA 98104

    206.322.1130 Ext. 100 | SKLARCHITECTS.COM



  • 23.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-25-2019 18:07

    Dither, Dither Dither...

    Tick-tock, Tick-tock, Tick-tock...


    Andrew Labov, FAIA, LEED AP



    5055 Wilshire Boulevard, 9th Floor
    Los Angeles, California 90036
    O: 323.525.0500 x5220

    C: 323.371-7181



    • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 



  • 24.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-28-2019 15:00

    Merriam-Webster defines ethics as "an area of study that deals with ideas about what is good and bad behavior : a branch of philosophy dealing with what is morally right or wrong."

    Oxford dictionaries define ethics as "Moral principles that govern a person's behaviour or the conducting of an activity."  And…

    "The branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles.

    Schools of ethics in Western philosophy can be divided, very roughly, into three sorts. The first, drawing on the work of Aristotle, holds that the virtues (such as justice, charity, and generosity) are dispositions to act in ways that benefit both the person possessing them and that person's society. The second, defended particularly by Kant, makes the concept of duty central to morality: humans are bound, from a knowledge of their duty as rational beings, to obey the categorical imperative to respect other rational beings. Thirdly, utilitarianism asserts that the guiding principle of conduct should be the greatest happiness or benefit of the greatest number"

    Richard, regarding your comment, "ethics is not defined by morals":

    I try to avoid sentiment, emotions and overly subjective belief in judging legal, even ethical behavior, and look to definitions and accepted rules as the appropriate "standard".  I, as a student, once parked in the (empty) faculty lot next to the UVa Architecture School at 4:30 in the morning when I needed to pick up some materials.  In the few minutes I was inside, campus police gave me a ticket.  I argued, "How can it be judged a parking offence if no one is offended?!"  In return I was asked, "Did you park where you were not permitted?"  "Yes."  "Then pay the fine." 

    You conveniently demonstrate the competitive nature of ethics and morals, particularly when evaluating other societies (Speer's world) or times as context.  That's why we had civil war in this country.  But today, with or without specific rules ("Collusion is not a crime."}, especially when someone else is morally offended, mistreated and endangered, it's hard to separate morality from ethics; personal from societal; individual from Institutional.  AIA.

    James Rhodes FAIA
    Beacon NY

  • 25.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-28-2019 20:57
    Edited by Richard Buday 01-28-2019 21:01
    Laws vs ethics vs morals is worthy of debate in both the academy and among practitioners. Alas, the topic rarely comes up. (Note to self: write a paper on this).

    To quote the ethicists from my own textbook on professional ethics:

    Ethics (e.g., the AIA's Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct) "is a set of rules of conduct that can be enforced by the governing body of a profession or professional school. These rules are specifically expressed as policies and procedures, which are usually binding."

    "A moral virtue is a habit, acquired disposition, or quality of character that is important for being a good person. You are not born with a virtue. You acquire it, through modeling, reflection, practice, and education."

    In other words, ethics are societal, morals are individual. Ethics are external. Morals are internal. The ideas are inextricably linked, hard to separate, blur together, but they are not the same things. Ethics and morals are not interchangeable terms, but one doesn't exist without the other.

    Excerpts From: The Brewsters (Second Edition)
    Jeffrey Spike, Thomas Cole & Richard Buday

    Richard Buday FAIA
    Archimage, Inc.
    Houston TX

  • 26.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-28-2019 21:08
    We may have the outlines of a session for A'20 in LA on this whole topic....

    Edmond Gauvreau, FAIA
    Washington, DC

  • 27.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-24-2019 21:47
    I simply cannot believe that the AIA, and College of Fellows in particular, is still dithering over this issue. Having recently become a Fellow, I am personally beginning to feel like I should have listened to Groucho Marx.

    Andrew Labov, FAIA
    CO Architects

  • 28.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-30-2019 16:53
    I just spoke with Chancellor Edward Vance who explained some of the functions of the College of Fellows: recognition of achievement as well as its stimulating, promotional and service-related activities.  To these ends, fund raising and awards are an important part. It is clear to me now that the COF itself neither elects nor revokes its elevation and membership, and that neither complaints to the AIA nor follow-up by the Executive and the Ethics Committees are open to the COF.  Perhaps this perception by some members of silence or "dithering" is the altogether appropriate response in order to protect the integrity and reputation of members of the Institute.

    My concern has been for clarity in the definition, expression and interpretation of the Institute's expectations regarding ethics and whatever sanctions may be imposed.  As an architect focused on preservation practice, I am continually challenged to understand a Landmarks Commission's take on what is really being protected and what is truly "appropriate". The AIA KnowledgeNet is effectively a professional blog comparable to a "public hearing" providing a voice to its constituents, and for that I am grateful.

    As to Andrew's comment "I am personally beginning to feel like I should have listened to Groucho Marx.", I'm not sure he's referring to "The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made." or, "Please accept my resignation. I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."

    James Rhodes FAIA
    Beacon NY

  • 29.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-31-2019 17:50

    Thank you for that apparent resolution of what the COF is for, and can, or can not, do. I'm very disappointed to learn that resolution as I thought COF was more than that...but it is what it is. 

    It appears our well-debated matter of what should be done in these instances of unacceptable and deplorable behavior by members of our profession, must be addressed with the AIA Board of Directors. 


    Tom E. Lewis, FAIA, Esq.
    Attorney at Law
    Colonel, USAF (Retired)

    General Counsel, The Tallahassee Ballet
    Former Chairman, Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Commission and Local Planning Agency
    Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator
    Florida Supreme Court Qualified Arbitrator
    7349 Hilltop Oaks Lane
    Tallahassee,FL Florida 32317

    Sent from my iPhone

  • 30.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-18-2019 18:38
    Hello folks.

    I am in agreement that awards for projects are made by specific juries at specific times for specific outstanding work.  Let them be.

    Is not the real question for us as Fellows to ask is whether to maintain in Fellowship those who have obviously committed serious immoral actions which, in addition to the often permanent physical and emotional damage done to the victims of such abuse, have seriously denigrated the public perception of the standards of professionalism and morality that are the hallmark of the College of Fellows?  This is the area in which we Fellows need to make a public stand.  To qualify for Fellowship, and once recognized and raised to Fellow, a member is to maintain high personal standards and do nothing that will reflect negatively upon other Fellows or upon the organization itself.  Sadly, such violators of moral and ethical stands should have no opportunity to remain recognized as an AIA Fellow.

    William Kreager FAIA
    Seattle WA

  • 31.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-21-2019 17:38
    I agree with William Kreager, FAIA, 1000%!

    What I fail to understand is WHY we are still debating this issue. It has to be at least 6-8 months since we began this dialogue. I thought we were going to pursue a special Task Force tonevaluate all the facts and options regarding this issue, and make recommendations for Board consideration. Did that fall thru?


    Tom Lewis FAIA
    Tallahassee FL

  • 32.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-29-2019 17:29
    Right Tom, Let's do it, its's right to do.  Look in the mirror and start with that guy..

    Gerald Cowart FAIA
    Cowart Group, PC Architects
    Savannah GA

  • 33.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-14-2019 21:00
    It's important to keep the thread going. And think that only others have to change to improve our practice. 

  • 34.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-17-2019 17:40
    I am in the camp of separating out these issues.

    An award or medal is given based on the judgment of a particular jury at a particular time. Unless we feel that this jury erred in their judgment, or made the decision based on erroneous or incomplete information, we are not in a position to change that decision.

    We can react to any trespass that we ourselves discover through a separate action, such as censure.

    But I do not think it appropriate in this case for us to rescind a carefully made long-ago decision.

    Thang Do FAIA
    AEDIS Architects
    San Jose CA

  • 35.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-18-2019 08:25
    This is a reasonable point of view but it still leaves open the question of what would we have done with Albert Speer. That is to say, is there a real moral difference between designing monuments for dictators and designing for democrats while (personally) transgressing rules of power and gender? Is there an absolute distinction or is it one of degree?

    T | 617.492.3532     M | 617.794.4600

  • 36.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-23-2019 22:08
    Speer was vilified for designing Nazi rallies and buildings, but he was tried and convicted at Nuremberg for ordering forced labor. In many minds the crimes were similar, but they're not. Speer's work was ethically and criminally indefensible, but in Speer's mind at the time, he felt morally right. (Speer had a change of heart after the war, apologizing for his morality).

    Richard Buday FAIA
    Archimage, Inc.
    Houston TX

  • 37.  RE: The Richard Meier case

    Posted 01-18-2019 20:21
    Rescinding the Project Award also impacts the project team members that contributed - maybe a strong reason to ensure key project contributors are always included.

  • 38.  RE: The Richard Meier case