Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

Man Transforms

The Opening of the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum

New York, New York

1976

The architectural process takes a peculiar route through space and time – beginning with an idea and its conceptual language, drawing, and ending with a built object and its experiential dimensions of mass within real space. The metamorphic exchange between these oppositions – idea and reality, the conceptual matrix and the phenomenal resolution – is the residue intended by the notion of Architecture. Metamorphosis, the configurated space which I have created for this exhibition, can be seen as a re-enactment of the process of design projected as an environment.

The lattice which moves off the drawing board with all its implications of the Cartesian grid, enstates itself within real space as a complex and changing set of myriad relationships experienced as suspense: the labyrinth. Because of the conceptual nature of this work, it seemed important that its medium be not only drawing (and its material counterpart, the lattice), but language itself and its transformational counterpart, the anagram.

In “The Fearful Sphere of Pascal,” Jose Luis Borges traces the history of a particular metaphor for the idea of God, as it was shaped by the Classical philosophers, reshaped by medieval theologians, and ended by being “a labyrinth and an abyss for Pascal.”  In tracing the history of a metaphor from the experience of form to the experience of matter, “The Fearful Sphere of Pascal” depicts the labyrinth as a geometric absolute, the structure of which has moved beyond the limits of instant comprehension. In that sense the labyrinth maps the movement from the idea to the real. In so doing, it is the prototype of Architecture.