Swiss architect Marcel Meili dies days after winning top honour

Marcel Meili (right) with fellow architect Markus Peter (left) presenting a stadium project to then Zurich mayor Elmer Ledergerber in 2002. Keystone / Michele Limina

Award-winning Swiss architect Marcel Meili has passed away just days after receiving one of Switzerland’s highest prizes for culture. Meili died on Monday after a battle with cancer, it has been announced.

This content was published on March 19, 2019 - 21:28

Last week, the Swiss Federal Office of Culture had bestowed the Swiss Grand Award for ArtExternal link / Prix Meret Oppenheim prize on Meili and fellow architect Markus Peter. In issuing the award, the jury wrote that it wished to “honor the energy – heroic and ambitious, at the same time humble – that they devote to unifying form, space, structure, and construction to conceive each project as an essential whole that is always more than the sum of its parts.”

Meili, who was born in 1953, studied at the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH). He later co-founded, along with architects Roger Diener, Jacques Herzog and Pierre De Meuron, and headed the ETH Studio Basel where he passed on his knowledge to students.

His most enduring designs include the platform roofing of Zurich’s main train station, the Zölly skyscraper, the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute overlooking Lake Zurich, the RiffRaff cinema and Park Hyatt hotel – also in Zurich.

Speaking to Swiss public broadcaster SRFExternal link, culture journalist Karin Salm praised Meili for “always thinking outside the box”.

“His search for striking solutions, which are constructively quite complex, simultaneously defining and shaping a place and at the same time catching the eye,” said Salm.

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