Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

Giovannitti House

Pitsburgh, Pennsylvania

1979 - 1983

The small, sloped suburban site for this 2,200-square-foot house for two people is surrounded by other residences, so the need for privacy was an important consideration, as was the desire to create views and a sense of space beyond the immediate confines of the site. The design and organization of both the exterior and interior spaces developed from these concerns.

The overall plan consists of an eroded double square, with one square elevated into a three-story cubic volume containing most of the program, with the other square devoted to the service function of the garage and kitchen on the ground level and an open terrace above. The three-story volume is carved away on the ground level to provide a second terrace, this one shielded from view and partly roofed by the projecting volume of the third floor. Inside, the program is organized vertically, giving all the spaces of this house unexpected amplitude. The dining room and guest room, located on the first level, are accessible from the garage and kitchen. The living room and the formal entry to the house, on the second level, are reached from the parapet terrace over the garage. The library and master bedroom are on the third level. A wood stair adjacent to the entry area connects all three floors.

On the fa├žades, porcelain-enameled steel panels and stucco protect the private spaces from view, while a delicate, steel-framed glass skin allows light to penetrate the public spaces. This skin permits views to the outside that are balanced and framed by more massive solid forms, as well as by the large existing trees on the property, which have been left intact. Throughout this small house there is a subtle dialogue between open and closed spaces, private and public realms, with each element enhanced by the play of contrasts and transitions.

Credits