Image courtesy Richard Meier & Partners

New Headquarters of Vinci Partners, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Click to view more images.

Continuing a recent push into Latin America, Richard Meier has brought his taut and planar aesthetic to Brazil, where the New York architect has been hired to design a seven-story office in Rio de Janeiro.

The boxy, 50,000-square-foot building, which is to be located one block from the beach in the trendy Leblon neighborhood, will become the new headquarters of Vinci Partners, a global investment firm. Site excavation is under way, with the building scheduled to open in 2014. 

Meier says he’s excited to contribute to a city that is rapidly undergoing redevelopment and seems to embrace the kind of Modernism he’s promoted for decades. “I had been down there traveling and seeing things, and I was fascinated by all that was going on,” Meier told RECORD. “It’s a very lively and an amazing place.”

The project, whose development cost has not been disclosed, will feature seven stories. Each floor will likely have an open floor plan, with the front wall featuring floor-to-ceiling windows. To mitigate solar heat gain, Meier added louvers to the glass façade, which will also mute street noise and help qualify the building for LEED Silver status, he says. RAF Arquitetura, a local firm, will handle the interior design of the offices.

Because the site is mid-block, on a deep lot, the designers were concerned that the back of the building would not receive enough natural light. So they added a courtyard, whose walls will be covered in plants.

The building will also contain 26,000 square feet of below-grade parking, spread among three levels and reached by a pair of car elevators, as well as a single ground-floor retail space that could be occupied by a boutique or café.

The designers intend to use poured-in-place concrete, whose gray hue will harmonize with a largely monochromatic color scheme, says Bernhard Karpf, the project’s design partner. “The client wasn’t excited at first because [concrete] can be considered a poor man’s material down there,” Karpf said, “but once they saw the mock-ups, they realized it will be really nice.”

Though Meier designed two projects last year in Mexico, both of which were to feature W hotels, their construction has been delayed; the Rio project should be his first completed building in Latin America.

Journeying to Brazil gave Meier an opportunity to meet one of his role models, the 104-year-old Oscar Niemeyer, and visit his works. Although Brasilia, the capital city that Niemeyer designed, was overwhelming—“Some of the buildings are good, but the scale of the place is mind-boggling. It lacks a human quality,” Meier says—he was honored to meet Niemeyer in person. He hopes the Brazilian architect has the opportunity to visit the Vinci Partners project once it’s completed. “I can’t wait until he sees it,” he says.

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