Private Lives/Public Places

Richard Meier

Architect Richard Meier, whose works include the Getty Center in Los Angeles, the city hall in The Hague, and the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, recently spoke with us between projects: a pair of luxury condominium buildings in Manhattan, set to open this month, and the Jubilee Church in Rome, scheduled for completion in 2000 (the Jubilee Year) but not expected to open until late 2002. "Italians," Meier says dryly, "have a different notion of time." Like his best work, Meier himself is bold, articulate, and opinionated.

I'D BUILD MY DREAM HOUSE IN East Hampton. I don't even want to put this in print, because it's already so crowded. I'd like to think there's another place, but I love the sea, so it would be East Hampton . . . unless I had a jet. If it's a dream house, I suppose I might as well have a jet.

BEFORE A TRIP I like to have the appropriate Baedeker's guide.

. . . the Bristol in Paris, which is a rather conventional, reliable place to stay.
. . . the Hotel Raphaël in Rome, right near the Piazza Navona.

• In Paris, Sennelier for collage books, and the Clignancourt flea market.
• In London, Sautter of Mayfair, across from the Connaught Hotel, for cigars.
• In Rome, Volpetti for cheese and Sant'Eustachio for the world's best coffee.

THE ART AROUND ME In my home, I mostly have things by people I know, like Helen Frankenthaler, whose work I like a lot, and Elaine Cohen, whose work I think is very interesting and always changing and stimulating. Frank Stella is a friend of mine, and I think he's a terrific artist. I find his work very stimulating, very different from anything I would do. I also love Rauschenberg, Johns, Serra.

I'VE LEARNED MOST ABOUT THE ART OF LIVING WELL FROM my mother. She's well-traveled. She first went to Europe with her father in 1927, did a grand tour when she was 16 years old. She's very inquisitive.

IF I HAD A WINDFALL I've never been to Egypt, I've never been to Macchu Picchu, so I'd consider traveling to one of those places.

I CAN'T IMAGINE THE WORLD WITHOUT the medieval monastery Le Thoronet Abbey in Provence. Or the cathedral at Chartres. Every time you go, you say, "My God, this is amazing." They still have a relevance. And Le Corbusier's Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp is also magnificent.

I GO NOWHERE WITHOUT my copper bracelet, worn for the past four decades, intended to leak copper into the bloodstream and to fight arthritis.

BEST TRAVEL ADVICE The most important thing is to take as little with you as possible. Also, when I go to Europe, I never think about the time. I immediately change my watch and start living on the time it is there. I work through the day. You have to live on the time where you are, not the time where you were. You have to move on.

I COULDN'T LIVE WITHOUT a toaster oven. I wish they would last longer. I would love to design one—they're mostly so badly designed.

. . . a red, hardbound, 10-by-12-inch book for making collages on the plane.
. . . Sanford Draughting 02237 (314) soft-lead drafting pencils for sketching.
. . . a clean white shirt.