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Richard Meier
Disgraced architect Richard Meier permanently left his practice after assault allegations

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.

The architect took a six-month leave of absence in the wake of the harassment allegations, four of which came from former employees at Richard Meier & Partners in March earlier this year.

Bernhard Karpf to become managing principal

The statement, titled Leadership Changes, confirms that he will not return to his lead position. Associate partner Bernhard Karpf will be promoted to managing principal of the New York firm in his place instead.

"Founder Richard Meier will step back from day-to-day activities and support the leadership transition of the firm he founded in 1963," reads the statement.

"He will remain available to colleagues and clients who seek his vast experience and counsel,” it continues. “The firm will maintain and develop the rigorous design philosophy that Richard pioneered."

Karpf has worked at firm since 1988

Karpf was among four associates enlisted to oversee the firm in Meier's absence. He has worked at the practice since 1988, gathering a portfolio that includes high-profile projects such as Leblon Offices in Rio de Janeiro and the Surf Club Residences at Surfside, Florida.

"It is an honour to lead this talented team as we build upon the body of work we have created over a half-century," said Karpf.  "Richard's vision has produced a unique architectural design language that is instantly recognisable and internationally celebrated."

Richard Meier & Partners Architects' West Coast activities will continue to be lead by Michael Palladino and Jim Crawford, who also oversees international projects and endorsed the decision to replace Meier.

"I appreciate and support Richard Meier's decision to undertake this transition," said Crawford.  "I have every confidence that with the support of the team in the New York office, this leadership transition will be seamless and successful," he added.

Meier already absent for seven months

Meier, 83, founded his architecture practice in 1963, and has received four of architecture's most respected awards: the Pritzker Prize in 1984, the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 1988, and both the AIA Gold Medal and the Praemium Imperiale in 1997.

His acclaimed portfolio includes the Getty Centre in Los Angeles, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art and the City Hall in The Hague.

The New York Times reported the allegations against the architect on 13 March 2018, detailing inappropriate sexual behaviour towards five women. Meier took his leave of absence shortly afterwards and apologised "to anyone who was offended by my behaviour" in a statement.

A number of high-profile institutions severed ties with Meier in the wake of the allegations.

Cornell architecture school denounced the architect, while auction house Sotheby's closed an exhibition of his artwork. The American Institute of Architects, the Getty Center – which the architect designed – and the Pritzker Prize also highlighted the severity of the claims.

Allegations were published by New York Times

The allegations against Meier came five months after the Harvey Weinstein scandal, which resulted in the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements and an increased awareness of sexual inequality in the workplace.

In October, Dezeen columnist Anna Winston explored sexism and harassment in architecture and wondered if there was a Harvey Weinstein in the profession.

The following month, Dezeen's survey of the world's 100 biggest architecture firms revealed a "shocking" lack of women at the top tiers of management, following which we launched our Move the Needle initiative to tackle gender imbalance in the design industry.

Photograph of Richard Meier is by Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan, via Getty Images.