Richard Meier on Real Estate Market: ‘Fortunately, I’m Just the Architect’

On September 15, the day that Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the Daily Transom encountered architect Richard Meier in a seemingly anxious and confused state of mind at a party thrown by Vanity Fair.

“I don’t know how to deal with it or what it means,” he said of waking up to the news that Monday morning. “Certainly, it’s going to have a serious effect on my work here.”

When we asked just how long our sudden economic troubles might last, Mr. Meier said, “Hopefully, two or three more hours,” tilting his head back and taking a swig of champagne.

Now, as the immediate shock and champagne headache of September 15 have worn off, Mr. Meier seems to have come to terms with the distressed real estate market and put on a brave face when speaking to New York Magazine at a party for luxury watches at Berry Diller’s IAC building on October 22.

“I think that people who don’t have things under construction are probably reconsidering whether they’re going to go under construction, but if something’s under way, they’re not going to stop,” he said.  

Most of the apartments in his new building—60 percent that is–at one Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn are already sold, he told the magazine. But the other 40 percent will go slowly, Mr. Meier admitted.

“Fortunately, I’m just the architect,” Mr. Meier told NY Mag, sounding calmer than he did last month. And yet, he offered a rather grim prediction when asked about the reality of the market a year or two from now. “I think there will be a lot of empty apartments," he said.

Indeed, Mr. Meier need not look further that his own celebrity-occupied glass towers on the West Side to see that the it will take longer than a few hours of champagne-guzzling to get things back to normal.

Just last week, the Observer’s Max Abelson reported Hugh Jackman going into contract on a 11,032-square-foot triplex at 176 Perry Street for “somewhere above $25 million"—a stark difference to the original listed price of $40 million. What’s more, Mr. Jackman might pull out of the deal altogether after being spooked by the volatile economy according to several sources who spoke to Mr. Abelson.

And the three-bedroom, three-bath apartment at 165 Charles that Natalie Portman placed on the market in July for $6.55 million remains there, with the price yet to be cut. Richard Meier on Real Estate Market: ‘Fortunately, I’m Just the Architect’