Meier is renowned for his innovative use of light, the simplicity of his designs and his incorporation of the natural environment into his designs.
The Chappaqua house, for example, was designed with an imposing wall of glass to allow the owners uninterrupted views of the landscape. "When you live in a Meier house, the outdoors is your wallpaper ... the trees, the stars, the moon, the sky. It's right in front of you," said attorney Stuart Shamberg, the original owner of the Chappaqua home.
Meier has received honorary degrees from the University of Naples, New Jersey Institute of Technology, The New School for Social Research, Pratt Institute and the University of Bucharest. He won the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, the field's highest honor, in 1984. At 49, he was the youngest recipient in the history of the prize.
Meier's projects include The Getty Center in Los Angeles; The High Museum in Atlanta; The Frankfurt Museum for Decorative Arts in Germany; The Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art in Spain; the U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building in Islip, Long Island; and two recently completed luxury apartment buildings on Perry Street in Manhattan.
However, he first gained acclaim for his home designs. After graduating from Cornell in 1957, Meier worked for Davis Brody Wisniewski, then Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and finally, Marcel Breuer before opening his own office in 1963.
Two years later, one of his early residential commissions, a house in Darien, Conn., overlooking Long Island Sound, propelled him into national prominence. His homes are bold and boxy, cubes of glass bridged by white bands and white columns. The homes are usually white.
"White," he writes in his book, "Richard Meier Architect, 1964/1984" (Rizzoli, 1984) "is, in fact, the color which intensifies the perception of all other hues that exist in natural light and in nature."
Shamberg, the founder of Shamberg Marwell Hocherman Davis and Hollis in Mount Kisco, and his wife, Paula, contacted Meier in 1972 after seeing a house he completed in Michigan.
"We called him up, and he said he'd have to see the site first. I remember picking him up at the train station," Shamberg recalled.
Meier accepted the commission, designing an ultra modern house on property next to a traditional, shingled cottage and swimming pool. The Shambergs used the existing cottage as a guesthouse and the new building as a year-round family gathering place.
Shamberg said he and his wife enjoyed living in the Meier house, even though it included getting unannounced visits from architectural buffs worldwide. "One Dutch architect showed up with a tulip in his hand," he said.
The Shambergs sold the property in 1989 to move to a smaller home in Pound Ridge. However, their former home is still referenced as the Shamberg House in architectural circles.
The new owners made significant changes to the property. They expanded the 2,700-square-foot house Meier designed and integrated it with the adjacent cottage. The combined property, which includes a new media/family room, is about 6,700 square feet, explained listing agent Margaret Atkinson, a Realtor with Houlihan/Lawrence's Chappaqua office. It includes four bedrooms, five baths, along with a rectangle-shaped swimming pool, a smaller reflecting pool, a two-car garage, and a separate barn/garage.
"The Meier portion of the house is 90 percent as it was originally designed. However, the current owners replaced the original wood floor with stone and added central air conditioning," she said. They joined the Meier house with the cottage with a media/family room designed by Raul de Armas, a former partner with Skidmore Owings and Merrill. The media room has three-foot-thick stone walls and two walls of glass.
"With three kitchens and five baths, this is not a conventional layout. The beauty of this home is in its surroundings, materials, and flexibility in the use of space.
"It's an amazing property that offers the buyer the serenity of its surroundings. You're in Chappaqua, but you may as well be in the Berkshires," Atkinson said.