My favorite Richard Meier designed modern residence is the home that Howard Rachofsky in the mid 1990s commissioned Richard Meier to design for an estate lot in original Preston Hollow. The American Institute of Architects gave its National Honor Award to this home in 2002, which has been written about and celebrated around the world.
Architects, architecture aficionados and the general public are inspired by the architectural purity and precision of this modern design.
Art collectors are inspired by how the art in the home can be viewed from the many angles, perspectives and levels that this modern home provides with its horizontal and vertical openness. Guests revel in the tranquility of a home so elegantly composed and devoid of decorative architectural clutter. The transparency of this home captures movement and frames art. Even those with little interest in modern homes or contemporary design are always won over by this home designed by Richard Meier.
Howard Rachofsky commissioned Richard Meier in the mid 1990s to design a home with a short term, intermediate and long term program in mind. The short term program was to use the one bedroom residence as a “bachelor pad” and private gallery. Then the home would transition to a private gallery of art and made very accessible to the public. Eventually the home would be become part of the Dallas Museum of Art, which the Rachofskys have already directed along with their art to the DMA.
The biggest difference in viewing art in a home versus a building designed as a public space is the enhanced feeling of intimacy. Residents or guests have an immediate relationship with the art as it is connected with a person and a place. One feels a greater sense of ownership of the art as a guest than as a visitor to a museum.
Successful museums gain visitors’ affection through repeated visits. Paintings, sculpture or other media installations become seared in the mind, and are revisited like an old friend. When art is experienced in this Richard Meier designed home, this sense of familiarity and connection is expedited and expanded.
Some assert that modern homes are sterile like museums. Many museums and exhibits do seem sterile because they don’t engage or they are presented to appeal very narrowly. The best museums engage all the senses, emotions and the intellect. This is where a residence as a gallery has an advantage. Richard Meier has designed fabulous museums like the High Museum of Art that, to a casual observer, might look like larger versions of the Richard Meier designed modern home. But they are not the same.
The design of this contemporary home is modern but the scale and approach is classic and timeless. As with any proper estate home, this one sits on a large lot – three acres – which provides a long approach past a vast perfect, manicured plane of grass. On one side of the home a grid of glazed panels comprise cantilevered walls of glass looking out to a small lake. In the rear of the house a large reflecting pool captures the reflection of this elegant residence, a rear garden adds to the tranquility. Hidden in the dense growth is art that amuses and provokes.
The interior of the home exudes clean lines and intersecting planes, and open spaces perfect for exhibiting art and celebrating people. Subliminally there are additional clues that this is a residence. Visitors might notice a door to a laundry room, or, in addition to the grand staircase, a very tight, narrow stair case, classically for servants or staff. The kitchen and bathrooms are scaled for residential use. Visiting the house, one discovers a bedroom and a closet.
The openness and transparency of the home accommodates and reveals a large number of guests so the residence feels larger than a museum space where often people are visible only one room at a time.
Howard and Cindy Rachofsky are great civic leaders, philanthropists and patrons of art and architecture. There are many ways to contribute to the arts. Howard and Cindy Rachofsky are participating and leading on many levels. Every year this modern residence is home to a week of amfAR Two x Two activities that raise an immense amount of money for AIDS and Art. The house is utilized for lectures, classes, educational events, tours and exhibitions.
For the present, this modern home will continue to inspire as a private residence and serve as a gallery. Ultimately, this exquisite modern home will transition to a modern museum, retaining the point of view and legacy of Howard and Cindy Rachofsky.