On the waterfront

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A lake house, after purchuasing it and then designed by American architect Richard Meier, a retired couple launches into the home’s second renovation in 35 years. It took nine months before Michael McCarthy and Marcia Myers fully realised what they actually purchase in Harbour Springs, Michigan.

” We saw this white house listed on the Internet with a lot of glass looking out the lake. ” says Myers, who, along with her husband, had searched for years for a waterfront property. They scouted waterfront houses and talk about beach properties in New Jersey, “but we kept going back to the Harbour Springs house”, she recalls. The price kept going down where prices everywhere else going up. So they travelled to Lake Michigan to see it in person.

They knew about the basis of architecture and modernism, but they were only vaguely aware of Richard Meier. All they really knew, was how deeply they wanted the house. At 3,200 square feet, it was set among the trees on the step side of a cliff comanding views over a turquoise lake and 970 feet of private beach. However the 1973 home had issues, but McCarthy, an engeener by training cataloged them all and used the information to negotiate a lower price. The house had been renovated once, in 1988, but it was structurally sound.

When the new owners, visited the house in 2007, they hardely shared a Miller’s impression. It was obvious that the property had been on the market for years. There were dead bugs, a musty smell, a collapsing ceilling in the kitchen, fogged glass, and sagging bridge.  The steel windows were rusted; the floor had water damage and some buckling.

Once they’d bought it, they called Meier’s office in New York. The architect suggested that if they intended to modify the building they might consider hiring his firm. “But he said if we were going to restore it, we’d be better off using local engineers,” says McCarthy, who did a bit of both by assembling a team to move forward while at the same time striking up an informal relationship with then Meier employee and Michigan native Michael Trudeau.

Forty years after its creation, the Douglas House has returned to its original intent—an architectural experience that moves the visitor through an exploration of inside and outside spaces. “The same is true in the Farnsworth House and Fallingwater,” says Meier. “The idea was there from the beginning—it’s about the making of space and how to articulate it.” Today the house looks spectacular with breathtaking views over the lake and over the forest at its backside, giving its owners peace, love and tranquility.

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