1966 Richard Meier House (with two pools) in New Jersey


In the early 90s, after about a decade in a brownstone in Carroll Gardens, Alex Vella, founder of an advertising agency, and his wife Ann Marie decided to find a new home for their growing family. They had spent a couple of years interviewing modernist architecture firms like Gwathmey Siegel, but starting from scratch they soon realized it was going to be too much work. Fortunately, just an hour later outside of town, they came across a pre-made design of the same kind: a 1966 glass and white stucco house designed by another New York Five architect, Richard Meier. They bought it for $ 650,000, packed up their belongings (per Vella, “Every piece of modernist furniture you can imagine”), and stayed for the next 30 years.

Perched on a hill on five acres of New Jersey horse land, the home is one of Meier’s earliest private residences. Originally built as a summer residence for the family of the well-known New York liquor importer Harold Renfield, the rough C.-shaped house is sprawling (7,370 square feet), relatively flat (with the exception of an extra tall chimney and a semi-cylindrical tower that sheds light into the dining area), and uniformly clad in white stucco (the house won first prize in the Portland Cement competition Company for the best use of their product).

Photo: Connie Zhou

Inside, you won’t find the thin columns and beams and exposed staircases that characterize Meier’s later homes – instead, the place has a simpler, more organic feel to it. Sculptural curved walls gently separate living spaces. A large part of the flooring consists of easy-care raw bricks. The common areas are anchored by minimalist built-in furniture, such as the extremely orthogonal white stucco built-in seating (around a black fireplace with a skylight above) in the living room and a large round dining table with an embedded lazy Susan.

Photo: Connie Zhou

Recently, the Vellas realized that their two pools (one inside, one outside) likely contain a tribute to the painter Frank Stella (who has a six-decade friendship with Meier; the two even shared a downtown studio early on). “If you look at the indoor pool, you see a mural made up of a series of right-angled extrusions,” says Alex. “This is what Frank Stella’s art looks like.”

Over the years, the couple kept everything on the property as it originally found it, only doing maintenance work (like replacing the roof and renewing the pools).

From the left: Photo: Connie ZhouPhoto: Connie Zhou

From above: Photo: Connie ZhouPhoto: Connie Zhou

In recent years the couple’s children (one of whom is a real estate developer and Million dollar collection Starring Zach Vella) persuaded her to sell the house. The Vellas half-heartedly launched it in March 2019 and then again in May 2020 for $ 2.8 million. This time the price has dropped to $ 2.5 million. There are some special challenges when selling the property. On the one hand, there is the fact that Meier announced his resignation last month, three years after five women, including four former employees, were accused of sexual harassment. And then there’s just the inherent difficulty of finding the specific buyer interested in buying an ultramodern glass-walled home worth $ 2.5 million in a rural suburb, where the average list price is around 750,000 US dollars and the dominant styles are ranches and colonial styles. “You wouldn’t question mid-century modernism in the Hollywood Hills,” says Alex. “But we’re quite a runaway in Chester.”

Photo: Connie Zhou

Photo: Connie Zhou

Source link


About Author

Leave A Reply