NYC Architecture Makes Splash Overseas - The Jewish Voice
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NYC Architecture Makes Splash Overseas

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Architect Richard Meier.
Architect Richard Meier.
While the recession may have slowed down the expansion of luxury towers in New York City, it didn’t stop several brand name architects from taking their projects overseas.

Namely, Richard Meier, the “master of the color white,” who’s hard at work these days designing the tallest residential tower in Tel Aviv, a hotel in South Korea and several dozen homes in Turkey’s Bodrum.

For the 78-year-old architect, the increase of foreign work has been more than evident. Currently, around 80 percent of Richard Meier & Partners Architects’ projects are overseas and 20 percent in the United States, which is up from 50-50 before the recession started. The firm is developing its first projects in 11 countries, including China, Israel, Turkey, Brazil, South Korea and Mexico.

Meier, who long ago was deemed part of the “New York 5” — a group of celebrated modernist architects — may be the most famous for designing the Getty Center in Los Angeles. He is no stranger to overseas work, having designed the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art and the Ara Pacis Museum in Rome.

Some global followers of his projects have sought to market his brand in places where Mr. Meier hasn’t had a presence in the past. The billionaire German-American investor Nicolas Berggruen has backed Mr. Meier’s involvement in designing a 39-story residential tower in Tel Aviv and 21 single-family homes in Bodrum.

“Architecture is becoming collectible,” said Ali Pamir, the Turkish developer of the Bodrum project. For the society upper crust, “architecture is a different form of art.”

The homes, which will span from 5,000 to 6,000 square feet on lots of a little over an acre, are being built on a hillside overlooking the Aegean Sea. So far one has gone up and is on the market for $5 million.

Pamir said he was marketing the houses to wealthy Turks in Istanbul as well as to foreigners in London. Part of the pitch is the chance for buyers to “sit down and share an experience with a master architect like Meier.”

He is now on the look out for a development in Istanbul that would lure Mr. Meier.

“Architects like Richard Meier have accomplished so much in their own countries that they are looking for a different challenge,” Mr. Pamir said. “There is a lot of satisfaction to transport your vision to other cultures and other countries. They are seeing what they can do on a global scale.”

Mr. Meier, though thankful for the work abroad, still mourns the lack of projects in the city where he has worked in the same office for over 40 years.

“You used to look out that window and somewhere you would see a crane,” he said recently. “You go around New York City today and you don’t see that many cranes. It is just not happening at this moment.”

“Obviously,” he added, “if the economy in this country stays the way it’s been, we are happy to be working all over the world. I wish we had a project in New York City, but we don’t.”

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