Center Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier Museum Founder Files Lawsuit Against Zurich’s Culture Minister

Heidi Weber, a friend and collaborator of the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, a pioneer of modernism and a proponent of the international school of architecture, is suing Zurich’s culture minister, Peter Haerle, for defamation after he allegedly made derogatory remarks about her while on a radio show, Henri Neuendorf of Artnet reports.

The legal dispute was sparked by the city’s decision to rename the museum that Le Corbusier designed for Zurich’s lakefront in 1964. Originally christened the Center Le Corbusier Heidi Weber Museum, the building was not completed until 1967, after Le Corbusier’s death.

Weber managed the institution for five decades before she turned the building over to the city, which was one of the conditions that she and Le Corbusier agreed to in order to get permission from Zurich’s city council to build the exhibition space. Two years later, the city rebranded the museum the Pavilion Le Corbusier.

Weber’s son, Bernard Weber, called the city’s decision to remove his mother’s name disrespectful. “My mother did hard work to bring Le Corbusier to Zurich in the first place,” he told Limmattaler Zeitung. “She was an impoverished single mother and she kept the museum going by herself for over fifty years.” Another stipulation of the city and Weber’s original agreement was that she had to sell the museum to the state for only $1.5 million even though the artistic value of the building might be as high as $73 million.

The eradication of her name from the institution’s title prompted Weber to end the loan of her entire collection of Le Corbusier works and objects to the city in 2016. The dispute escalated when the culture minister said that “over the course of her life, [Weber] has fallen out with very many people,” while speaking with a radio show host on the air.

After Weber’s responsibilities at the museum came to an end, she secured an agreement to replicate the building and intends to build more Heidi Weber/Le Corbusier centers in China and Chile.