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House of contrasts

The Douglas House, built by Richard Meier in 1973, is now owned by the US authorities National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior, which is responsible for the management of nature reserves and historical monuments, has been added to the list of buildings worth preserving due to their historical and architectural importance.

As Meier remembers, the Douglas family's private house almost never had been built. The developer, in whose catchment area their original property was located, wanted a gable roof and rejected the modern design of the later Pritzker Prize winner. Since the couple could not be dissuaded from their choice of architects, they had to look around for an alternative piece of land, which they found in Harbor Springs in the US state of Michigan - an interesting building plot due to its topography.

Richard Meier designed a building for the property, which slopes steeply to Lake Michigan, which is accessed via a bridge that leads to a roof platform. "It is truly a house of contrasts," says Meier today. To get out of it, you go up instead of down. The house shows the typical aesthetics of the architect: white painted steel structures, glass surfaces divided horizontally with white bars.

The architect feels honored by the recognition. The history of the Douglas House made him aware that the lifespan of architecture is much longer than that of all those involved in its creation. And that in their conception, in addition to the framework conditions of the property, its history, the surrounding buildings, the topography, the future of the building in a location also plays a role. (df)

Photos: James Haefner and Scott Frances

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