I have been (ill) fortunate to visit many projects by Richard Meier in various cities and countries over the past 5 years. I have seen Richard in Dallas, Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, New York and many others I have since forgotten due to their… unforgettableness. Apparently unforgettable enough that the mayor of Rome is attempting to rid the city of his highly published 2006 Ara Pacis Museum. I have never really been that enthused when turning a corner and coming face to face with another project of his. The most excitement I had gotten out of one was breaking into the Euregio Office Building in Basel one very dark, quiet night. From where I live in Southern Germany, a small town of only 30,000, there are 3 Richard Meier projects within a 20 minute drive. While this American may have a German namesake, this is a bit excessive. I had casually walked past the Stadthaus in Ulm a few months ago, paying more attention to the local Christmas market rather than this excessive white noise in my way.
A few weeks ago I visited the Weishaupt Forum in Schwendi. For the first time in my life, I was actually quite satisfied with a Richard Meier project. It had all the signs of Richard Meier and could have easily been any one of the projects I had seen anywhere else. The geometries and relentless use of white panels were just the same as all of the others.
What changed this for me was the contrast. This was the second project I had seen of his outside of a dense urban context and the first where you could stand back far enough to understand that. The contrast between those white panels squished between a crisp blue sky and manicured green grass seemed to fit in perfect harmony. I was so used to those white panels clouded with pollution and debris, but here in the realm of a controlled culture, this controlled building seemed to just fit. All of a sudden I began to notice the space created by these geometries and appreciated it all the better.
I suppose location is everything.