Architect Richard Meier will take a six-month leave of absence from his firm after five women accused him of sexual harassment.
Several women who worked for Meier detailed a range of allegations against the star architect, including that he exposed himself to them in his home, and that he asked one woman to undress so he could photograph her naked. Richard Meier & Partners is considered one of the most prestigious architectural studios in the world, and Meier has designed buildings such as the Getty in Los Angeles and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. But one employee who detailed allegations against Meier to the New York Times, Stella Lee, said she was warned to watch out for Meier by another employee of the firm. Several women reported Meier’s behavior to management, and the firm was required to hold sexual harassment training as part of a $150,000 settlement with an employee. “We did everything we could to look into the claims and set up a strong sexual harassment policy and training,” said Scott Johnson, the firm’s previous COO who dealt with two of the complaints. Several of the allegations reported by the paper centered on young women just starting out in their careers. Judi Shade Monk told the Times that Meier put his hand on her back and “started to roll my underwear around in his fingers” at an office party just a few months after the 26-year-old started working at the firm. A fifth woman, who was not an employee, said “she had to flee [Meier’s] home after he forcefully pulled her onto a bed” during an incident in the 1980s, the Times reported. Meier, a Pritzker Prize winner who recently established a graduate scholarship at Cornell University to support women architects, told the paper he is “troubled and embarrassed” by the accounts, adding, “While our recollections may differ, I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by my behavior.” The firm will be managed by four associate partners during Meier’s absence.