Almost as impressive as his magnificent buildings, Richard Meier's Model Museum in Long Island City, Queens is both an homage to his impressive portfolio, as well as a lesson in the architectural creative process.
Consuming much of the 3,600-square-foot space, the model of the L.A. Getty Center represents a project that took up a similarly significant portion of Meier's career. The undertaking brought the New Jersey native west during its 13-year construction, where he lived on site, riding his bike down most mornings to check on the structure. When he found a spare moment, he collected wood scraps from the site, creating sculptures by binding together the pieces with string and casting them in stainless steel. Interspersed with the models, alongside colorful collages he also made, the museum gives a real sense of the architect as artist.
Many of the models themselves take years to complete (five for the Getty Center) thanks to the fanatically precise detailing. Each piece of wood is cut and shaped by hand, although model maker Michael Gruber, aka Mr. Tree, designed a now-patented pattern used to laser-cut the delicately intricate trees .
Like many of his buildings, the all-white space makes the perfect backdrop—in this case for displaying the massive models. With such large dimensions, they were all craned in through the ceiling, and many have accompanying blown-up versions detailing smaller sections of the original. Some simply represent the future site without any buildings, one of which hangs from the wall giving the impression of an abstract artwork.
Meier explains that "what we're doing is open, transparent and expressive of our time." At 76, with both a humbly positive outlook and expansive body of work, the renowned architect shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
The Richard Meier Model Museum is open to the public on Fridays by appointment only. To book, phone the museum (+1 212 967 6060). See more images in the gallery below, including a look at the only model built by Richard Meier himself.