Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

House in Pound Ridge

Pound Ridge, New York

1969

The House in Pound Ridge, an unbuilt project, is designed for a rocky, wooded site, an interior lot open at the center and surrounded by trees, joined to the road by a long and narrow right-of-way. The pattern of open and closed spaces traces a natural path through the landscape. Approached by the right-of-way through an avenue of trees, the slope of the land rises gradually. It continues to rise to the east, while falling to a steep ravine on the southwest.

A series of existing rubble stonewalls is used to delimit the cleared section of the land and to define the sequence of the house and its outbuildings. The right-of-way ends outside the compound at the caretaker’s cottage and garage. Behind this, steps lead through a break in the old wall, a point of transition from a rugged to a more manicured landscape. At this point, the garage, the north corner of the main house, and the pool house at the southeast end of the site together describe a sight line through the property and the trees.

The house is elevated through a solid frontal plane. Inside, this place reveals itself to be a thickened “wall” containing kitchen, utility space, and, on the second level, guest bedrooms with private roof decks above. A spiral staircase giving access to the guest bedrooms is exposed on the faรงade by a two-story cutout with curved glazing. Most of the light enters through small windows punched in the wood-baring walls or through the skylights.

To the solid front zone of the house is attached a transparent three-level glazed pavilion facing the rear of the site and containing living and dining areas at ground level. The master-bedroom module floats asymmetrically above, anchored to the ground by a top-lit garret staircase that provides access to it. The solid volume of this stair projects beyond the glazed enclosure of the pavilion and the extension at the rear is meant to answer the inset at the entrance. The master bedroom cannot be reached directly from the guest rooms in front; the open side of the house must be crossed at ground level, an arrangement that maintains the privacy of the owner’s suite. This distribution of the private areas in the house defines the basic parti: a broken T-shaped volume superimposed on a glass box.

From the glazed zone of the house there is a 270-degree view, through the window walls and the grid of the steel columns to a natural wall of trees beyond. The large expanses of glass, interrupted only by the projecting staircase, the chimney, and a balcony from the master bedroom, bring the exterior environment within, while the dense woods outside filter and modulate incoming sunlight. Throughout, the architectural organization is designed to enhance the sensuous experience of the natural environment, allowing for a multiplicity of views, perspectives, and reflections.

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