Acclaimed architect Richard Meier was just 31 when he designed the modern Smith House in Darien, Connecticut, which hit the market last week for $14.5 million.
The four-bedroom, three-level house, built in 1967, sits right on the Long Island Sound waterfront. Its white walls, geometric design and grid of glass are classic styles of Mr. Meier.
Frederick Smith and his sons, Chuck and Fred, have owned the 3,930-square-foot house on Shennamere Road since it was built and have now decided to put it up for sale.
“This is one of the iconic houses of the 20th century,” said Jack Trifero of William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty, who’s handling the listing. “It defined the era for modernism in the 1960s and into the ’70s.”
“It’s a real pilgrimage house for architects and for people interested in architecture,” Mr. Trifero added. “I’ve had some pretty high-level architects come to the house—and they bring their books from college.”
Along with being a “historic marker, it’s an incredible house to be in,” Mr. Trifero said. “It truly brings nature and architecture together.”
He spoke about how the home’s architecture is a progression.
“When you open the front door, the first thing you see is the fireplace in the living room—you don’t see the water,” Mr. Trifero said. “And then you walk into the living room and you have this drop-dead view of the water—water and nature fill your view.”
Chuck Smith, a documentary filmmaker and producer, agreed. “The whole point of Richard’s design is that you don’t see it all at once,” he said. “It takes a certain understanding to get it.”
“There is nothing else like it,” he said. “It was like growing up in a sculpture or a piece of art.”
As a child, he said, “it was hard because you couldn’t throw balls or touch the walls,” said Mr. Smith, who is perhaps best known for his film “Forrest Bess: Key to the Riddle,” featuring Willem Dafoe. “It’s not a particularly child-friendly house.”
As such, “we’re trying to find the right people who appreciate it for what it is,” he said. “Otherwise, it would be like selling a painting to someone who’s not going to hang it.”
The house opens on the second level, which holds the living room and deck and the master suite.
The lower level has the renovated kitchen, waterfront dining room and an en-suite bedroom.
The third level has two bedrooms that share a bathroom, a family room and a stunning office enveloped in glass walls. “There is a built-in couch by Richard Meier in the office,” Mr. Trifero said. “He placed it perfectly, facing the water.”
“It has drop-dead views because the house is high up,” Mr. Trifero said.
For the most part, the public and private spaces are clearly delineated throughout the house. The private rooms and spaces are toward the front of the house, facing woods, land and the road. They have limited windows.
The public spaces, where the family meets and entertains, sit in a glass-enclosed shell in the rear, overlooking the water. The 1.5-acre property has interesting rock formations as well as its own private beach.
It’s an easy commute to New York City, Mr. Trifero said. “You’re literally five minutes from the Darien train station and then Darien has a direct line into the city.”
Mr. Meier, a Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect who trained under Marcel Breuer, returned to the house in the 1980s to add an extension on its east-facing side.
“The house has been owned by one family and they have maintained it very well,” Mr. Trifero said.
Mr. Meier went on to design many significant works, including the Getty Center in Los Angeles, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art in Spain, city halls in The Hague, the Canal+ Headquarters in Paris and the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills.
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