Michelangelo Suffered During the Design Process, Too: Victoria Meyers’s Book List

By Steve Kroeter February 5, 2013
Victoria Meyers

Architect Victoria Meyers: Hanrahan Meyers Architects (New York)

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“I selected my books for many reasons,” Victoria Meyers writes in the introduction to her list for Designers & Books. “Some books have followed me around for a very long time (I started reading Frank Lloyd Wright’s writings when I was seven or eight). Some books on the list were given to me by relatives whom I was close to (The Poetry of Robert Frost, given to me by my aunt). Complete Poems and Selected Letters of Michelangelo catalogues a life that I can relate to—suffering because of the design process! Some books got me through dark times with good advice, others with their amazing humor (John Cage and Andy Warhol).”

Victoria Meyers, Designing with Light, 2006 (Abbeville Press)

A founding partner, with Thomas Hanrahan, of the award-winning firm Hanrahan Meyers Architects, she takes pointers from the writings of both the Dalai Lama (“he never gets ruffled…”) and Frank Lloyd Wright (“I followed many of the bits of advice given by Wright.. including getting an undergraduate degree in civil engineering”). More counsel comes from Le Corbusier’s Towards a New Architecture (Vers une Architecture)Meyers is the tenth Designers & Books contributor to select this book—about which she says, “Le Corbusier advises young architects to travel to Rome, and to get a ‘letter of permission’ to pass through the Vatican Gates, in order to see the back of St. Peters (‘the only place where you can see Michelangelo’s handiwork’). I did so, and it blew me away. The book gives a lot of great advice that you can’t get anywhere else.”

Meyers elaborates on the connection she feels toward Michelangelo as a working designer and artist: “Not that I see myself as anywhere near his equal, but I can relate to his struggles. I know how it feels to ruin dinner with your family because you’re struggling with clients who have not paid, or who demand too much. I know how it feels to write notes to clients, asking to be paid, or asking for more time. It all makes perfect sense to me, and is somehow very reassuring to think that Michelangelo struggled with so many of the mundane aspects of design that plague me as well.”

Victoria Meyers, Shape of Sound, 2014 (Artifice Books on Architecture)

Victoria Meyers has written two books and has a third underway. The Four States of Architecture, co-authored by Thomas Hanrahan (2002, Wiley), relates 14 of Hanrahan Meyers’s projects to four “states” identified by the architects—horizon, light, atmospheres, and ground. Meyers’s book Designing with Light (2006, Abbeville Press) explores the many ways in which light is used in contemporary architecture (in the work of Zaha Hadid, Steven Holl, Herzog & de Meuron, Rem Koolhaas, John Pawson and many others) both internally and externally, to enhance the design and sense of space in a building.

The new book Meyers is working on is called Shape of Sound (Artifice Books on Architecture). “I’ve collaborated with sound artists for approximately 20 years now,” she notes in a comment she makes about a book she is currently reading: Music and Architecture by the Greek avant-garde composer and architect-engineer Iannis Xenakis. “I’m using his book for a course I’m teaching on ‘sound urbanism.’” Meyers’s own book is due to be released in spring 2014.


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