To come upon this house perched on a magnificent peninsula overlooking the Magothy River is to recognize one architect's homage to the context of place.
The architect, Leo D'Aleo of D'Aleo Inc., formerly Meyers & D'Aleo Inc., was so taken with the site when he first saw it that he declared, "If we'd had our druthers we wouldn't have wanted any house there at all," although he had something else in mind.
He says, "The concept was to create what I refer to as minimal architecture. Everything fades away but the view. Not even the railings [for the extensive decks and balconies that surround the house on all levels] interfere with the view. They're stainless-steel cable that goes away when you're looking out."
With delicate and deliberate balance, the most basic of architectural elements -- plane, column and glass -- have been combined in a structure that is reminiscent of the best of the International Style of architecture.
The approximately 8,000-square foot house, built onto a severe slope, offers four primary levels plus a rooftop observatory with a 360-degree view. Outdoors, the simplicity of the concrete and glass combine to present an assured yet unobtrusive relationship with the view -- one that presents more like sculpture than shelter. Shelter, however, is precisely what this is. Japanese-like overhangs protect large expanses of glass from strong sunlight, while indoors a computer system regulates temperature and lighting and even provides security.
The interior design by Rita St. Clair, past national president of the American Society of Interior Designers, and Ted Pearson, the director of design for Rita St. Clair Associates Inc., included space planning and interior detailing.
Ms. St. Clair and Mr. Pearson worked closely with Dallas, Texas, lighting designer Craig A. Roeder, who installed a sophisticated lighting scheme that offers a myriad of lighting effects at the touch of a button. Computer-monitored, the lighting system features a number of preset lighting "scenes" selected by the owner with Mr. Roeder.
An inspired selection of finishing materials and furnishings, from the charcoal gray maple Poggenpohl kitchen cabinets to the watery silks of the living room upholstery, are mostly in pale, pearly shades to support the owners' goal: to enjoy a house built for entertaining but without distracting from the view.
For example, the expansive living room with its travertine marble floor has been visually divided by a stainless-steel-encased glass divider into a media room and two conversation/seating areas. In the media room, a blue-gray Italian leather chair is one of several that adjust to become chaise longues. Next to the chair, a free-form table is covered in parchment-colored goatskin, thin as velum.
In the larger conversation area, plaid silk chairs and a serpentine sofa covered in cotton chenille is grouped on and around a circular custom rug by Edward Fields. In the center, a revolving cocktail table by furniture design star Dakota Jackson is one of several Jackson pieces in the house.
A more intimate conversation area atop a second Edward Fields rug offers another Dakota Jackson Lazy Susan table with a copper-leaf revolving center topped with wood. Here, four chairs have been covered in pale aqua wool.
L The primary mood of the dining room is that of a set design.
Diners themselves may feel like jewels in an exquisite setting -- that of the view. Here, 6 feet above the living room, the dining room takes in sweeping views not only of the outdoors but of the rest of the house. The shimmer of the Magothy, the moon, and inside, the glass, the columns, the everchanging shadows and the light play constantly on the eyes in a lacy visual opera.
An evening here -- indeed any time of the day or night -- is a feast for the senses.