Richard Meier’s Douglas House stands as a beacon of light on a steep and secluded hill in Harbor Springs overlooking the vastness of Lake Michigan. Meier carefully engineers a means to secure the residence to the site, anchoring the multileveled ship like design. Meier values attention to space, form, light, and the combination of these elements. Meier shapes space and structure to create a summer retreat that manipulates light through a series of squares, rectangles, and materiality. The home adopts its form from basic geometric squares and rectangles. Meier’s design features a distinct difference between the private and public sections of the home. The only entrance is on the backside of the home, the private sector of the space on all three levels. With few windows and surrounded by forest, Meier succeeds in maintaining this increased level of privacy. To enter the structure, residents travel down a narrow road and cross a “flying bridge” that leads to the entrance at the building’s roof. The bridge echoes a Medieval means of crossing a moat to enter a protected home.
From this rooftop area, a visitor descends into the open spaces of this relaxing summer retreat. The front façade of the building, open to the views around the structure, bears the signature of Meier’s structural approaches, allowing for the installation of a large amount of glass and white lacquered wood of the home spilling down the sloped terrain. The use of white manipulates the light that enters the space in a dynamic way through the window to amplify the contrast between light, shadow, solidity, and void. The vertical, stainless steel smoke pipes, combined with the placement of the white nautical railing and wood decking enhance the sense of a ship. The glass and white lacquered wood reflect again and again the natural light spilling into the public space from the reflections off the waters of Lake Michigan.
“It’s a great spatial feeling that relates to the landscape and allows you to appreciate the changes of color during the day and seasons.”