5 women accuse starchitect Richard Meier of sexual harassment

He's taken a six-month leave

Richard Meier (Credit: Getty)
Richard Meier (Credit: Getty)

Five women say architect Richard Meier sexually harassed them, marking him as one of the first famous architects to be accused of such misconduct in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Four women who worked for Meier — who won the Pritzker Prize in 1984 — and another who met him while he was working on the Getty Center in Los Angeles accused him of inappropriate behavior, the New York Times reported. The accusations include forcibly trying to kiss one of the women, exposing himself, grabbing an employee’s underwear and asking an assistant to undress.

Meier has taken a six-month leave as a result.

“I am deeply troubled and embarrassed by the accounts of several women who were offended by my words and actions,” he said. “While our recollections may differ, I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by my behavior.”

Two of the women who worked for him said Meier exposed himself to them when they were sent to his New York apartment. Stella Lee told the Times that she arrived at his apartment in 2000 to find her boss wearing only a terry cloth bathrobe that exposed his penis. Alexis Zamlich, who did not speak to the Times due to a confidentiality agreement, received $150,000 to settle her claims that Meier exposed himself to her at his apartment, the paper reported.

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Judi Shade Monk said that he grabbed her underwear through her dress at a holiday party held by the firm. Laura Trimble Elbogen, his 24-year-old assistant, said he invited her to celebrate her new job at his apartment during her first week in 2009. He allegedly showed her naked photos of women at his apartment and then asked her to undress. Instead, she left the apartment.

Carol Vena-Mondt, a furniture designer who worked on the Getty in the 1980s, said she was invited by Meier to what she thought was a dinner party, but she turned out to be the only guest. She said the architect tried to kiss her, dragged her down a hallway and then pushed her onto the bed, despite her objections. She pushed him away and ran to her car.

Meier designed 173 and 176 Perry Street in Manhattan and On Prospect Park in Brooklyn. In South Florida, he designed the Four Seasons Private Residences at the Surf Club. He was also recently tapped to design 685 First Avenue for Solow Properties.

With Meier taking a six-month leave, four associate partners will manage day-to-day operations of the New York headquarters: Vivian Lee, Reynolds Logan, Bernhard Karpf and Dukho Yeon. Michael Palladino, a partner who runs the company’s L.A. office, will oversee all operations and projects.

Like many industries, architecture is still grappling with gender inequality — especially among firms’ upper echelons. A survey by Dezeen showed that only 10 percent of the highest-ranking jobs at the world’s 100 top architecture firms were occupied by women.

Another big real estate figure was accused of sexual misconduct in November. Celebrity hotelier André Balazs was accused of groping at least four women. [NYT]Kathryn Brenzel