Richard Meier's First House: Pictures!


The owner of Richard Meier's first house has kindly sent us pictures of the house in its current state, as well as notes on their pending restoration:

The original Meier house was largely a glass rectangle,the bottom half of the pictured house.There were four indented corners of the house, front and back. The porch indentation in the current photo is the only remaining original design. The center portion of the rectangle (oceanfront) was not windowed, but a walled internal utility area (showers/tubs washing machines ). Definitely a waste of prime real estate.

In a 1960's picture( Vanity Fair 2005), Mel Brooks is seen writing "The Producers" on one of these porches.

The expand their space, the Brooks eliminated three porches by popping the outer walls to the eaves. In this way they converted the design to a four bedroom house. The upstairs was their large balconied bedroom. They adding a pitched roof and shingle siding.It is apparent that Richard Meier did not participate in this decision. The current owners are restoring vertical siding to the structure while trying to maximize the extraordinary siting and unique vistas envisioned by Meier. The comment about Anne not having it both ways, "Meier and shingles" is relevant to the design issues.

Click Continue Reading for a second photograph.

Dear Owner: Tropolism thanks you. You have made our summer.

Melnikov House: Falling Apart


The World Monuments Fund released its 100 Most Endangered Sites annual list earlier this year, and Melnikov's House and Studio in Moscow was on the list. Metropolis published a short piece on it, and it regularly appears in architecture surveys of "what's happening in Moscow now". The New York Times continues the story with a lot of he-said-she-said, complete with dramatic grandchildren and heir infighting. All the while, the building is collapsing:

In the room where Viktor Melnikov slept, Mr. Sarkisyan pointed to a four-foot chunk of plaster that had fallen from the ceiling, revealing the building’s waffle-like construction. The frame of the main window, he said, has ruptured under the weight of the glass, and could easily collapse, “which would be disastrous,” he said.

Richard Meier's First House: The Owner Writes

Amongst a busy week here at Tropolism, a reader, who happens to own Richard Meier's first building, writes us some notes on the structure:

My husband and I own Richard Meier's first house that he built in Lonelyville,Fire Island. It was named the Lambert house after Saul Lambert, an illustrator. The house was owned for 40 years by Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft. We were friends with them and knew the house well as our sons grew up with their son on Fire Island. The original design (1962) was a prefabricated two bedroom house built in two weeks by six workmen. There are pictures of the house and floor plans in Richard Meier's newest biography. The Brooks added a second floor and shingled siding and turned the house into a four bedroom structure.

As a friend said to me upon reading this: "I hate to speak ill of the dead, but Anne Bancroft can't have it both ways, a Richard Meier AND a shingle style...". This is the world we live in, people.

Would anyone care to send us pictures from said book?

Glass House Opening To The Public


The New York Times' article on the guy overseeing the preservation of Philip Johnson's estate in New Canaan notes that April 2007 is when several buildings on the estate will be open to the public. We regarded the Glass House as an inferior version of Mies' Farnsworth House, until we studied it closer during my design of the interior of the Urban Glass House (a project we lost). We can't wait to visit.

Visit the Glass House website to register for updates on visiting.

New Football Stadium In Arizona


It's been a little while since we had a stadium to write about. The New York Times obliges us by publishing an article by Nicolai Ourousoff about the Peter Eiesenman/HOK Sport creation for the Arizona Cardinals' new stadium, Glendale, Arizona. Or, as we put it when we first saw the image above, "Frank Gehry's worst building ever".

The one lovely thing about the project is something the author of the article notes: the way it contrasts with its location.

Versailles In The Pacific


Pruned posts a long and fantastical article called Versailles In The Pacific. It begins with the announcement of a device called AMOEBA (Advanced Multiple Organized Experimental Basin, of course), which gives humankind the ability to write the letter "S" into the surface of water. We weren't astounded, until Pruned did a Thomas Edison on us and speculated about the practical applications of this discovery:

Of course, we cannot wait until a larger version of the AMOEBA gets built, something continental or oceanic in scale. And then rather than propagating saccharine heart shapes and smily faces or boring letters and numbers, one could inscribe the Gardens of Versailles in their entirety somewhere in the South Pacific.
Unfortunately, there is also the possibility of weaponizing AMOEBA waves in the same way one could easily turn any natural earth systems, e.g. earthquakes, into a national security threat. Because once the machine falls into the hands of al-Qaeda, they can then easily wipe Los Angeles off the map with a tsunami. In the shape of Versailles.

Check out Pruned for more tasty images. This is the stuff that gets us out of bed each morning.

Oscar Niemeyer: Still Up To Bizarre Cool Stuff


A friend came back from Brazil yesterday with a story about meeting Oscar Niemeyer. She didn't speak much Spanish or Portuguese, so their conversation kind of stopped at him saying "yes, the space between buildings and the city are important." What amazed her the most is that he's still up to big, bizarre shapes, and he is 98 (born December 15, 1907).

Case in point, the folks at Daily Dose point us to a theater in Ibirapuera Park, São Paulo, Brazil, which opened last October, in a park Niemeyer designed in the early 1950s. There is a longer description of the project at ARCOweb, in Portuguese. There's a refreshing freedom and exhuberance to this building, not laden with OMA's weighty analyses or preoccupation with history or Gehry's fussyness. Just pure shape, hard and forever.

Picture above by digdoi on Flickr.

Richard Meier's First House

Yesterday's call for information on Richard Meier's first house (somewhere on Fire Island) registered several quick replies,.

First was the ever-vigilant-to-RSS-updates Greg Allen, who dutifully quoted interviews with Anne Bancroft stating that the house was located in Lonelyville.

Next came from friends who vacation in Lonelyville, where their family has owned a house for decades. They are architects and have the following notes:

I know the house well....its just up the walk (Plank Walk, in Lonelyvillle) from our house. Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft sold it a few years ago. It has been added to a couple times by others, and though we can point out the original lines of the Meier house, not much really remains to be photographed. It might make an interesting story, and of course a walk to Lonelyville is always nice, but the house will not stand out on remaining architectural merit.

The other friend says:

Not worth the (very long) walk, I would say. - we have some old family pictures on the beach with the house in the background (from the early 70's) It is unrecognizable now. There is a small picture of the house in the white RM monograph from the 80's. The original client was Phyllis Lambert.

Pictures, anyone?

A Little Summer Break

Tropolism will be at the beach this week, looking for Richard Meier's first house. See you next week!

(If you know the location of said house, or have pictures, do send them our way.)

Joe Nishizawa: Deep Inside Japan


We never get tired of reading Jean Snow, who this week points to an interview with Joe Nishizawa in PingMag. This artist takes some stunning photographs of underground spaces in Japan: rail tunnels, utility tunnels, and nuclear power plants. The work is amazing, and the interview is thorough.

Tate Modern Expands


Herzog & de Meuron have been selected to expand the very popular Tate Modern with what we like to think of as Tate2.

The image used by other websites to announce this project (the first image on the link above) looks undercooked and like a Liebeskind leftover. But the image we are posting today put us in an entirely different mind about the project. That it will be a crystalline, brutalist structure, worthy heir of the Crystal Chain (or Mies's early skyscrapers), iconic to the south (which is admittedly Tate Modern's least interesting side) yet a quiet background mountain from the Millenium Bridge approach from the north, over the Thames.

Also of interest is the planning for the project: an entirely new approach and entry sequence from the south; restructuring of a powerstation; the use of the expansion as a way to link the museum with the neighborhoods to the south; the new pedestrian links in a 'hood with some not-pedestrian-friendly roadways.

Also of interest is the rendering of the Philharmonic Hall project in Hamburg, scheduled for completion in 2009, which appeared in Tropolism in October of last year.

LMDC Closing Its Doors


It's not every day we see a public agency declare its mission accomplished. Of course, in this day and age, we declare mission accomplished after the first bombs have been dropped, but no sooner, and so it should probably come as no suprise that the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation has declared they have done what they said they would do.

By some measures, they have many accomplishments. The organization spearheaded the WTC Memorial competition, the WTC "Master Plan", the Fulton Street Corridor Master Plan (a great idea, connecting Lower Manhattan's coasts with a revitalized Fulton Street), several other parks, and allocation of a couple of billion of dollars in grants.

There are many pieces of unfinished business, and while we could list them, we also recognize that the LMDC has been toothless for a long time; and from the beginning unable to powerfully influence the actual building of anything downtown. We're still looking for that leadership; this announcement simply makes it painfully clear that there's still a vacuum at Ground Zero.