The Alden B. Dow Home and Studio, Rieker House Mobile
by Albert Chmelar
“Architecture is best experienced.” That saying is especially true when speaking of Dow’s Riecker House in Midland, MI. Designed in 1961 by Dow for his niece, Margaret Towsley Riecker and her family, the residence is considered to be one of the architect’s most distinctive designs. The large 6,800 square-foot, strongly horizontally themed home, can be conveyed as a composition of red planar brick walls capped by an intricate three-level exposed wood roof structure. Built upon a seven-by-seven foot grid, this pattern is delightfully displayed in the interlocking ceiling, of which Mr. Dow was known to have enjoyed viewing while lying down on the living room floor during family visits. Red details cap the ends of the crisscrossing roof beams as they cantilever beyond the perimeter walls.
Featured in the Zonta Homewalk of 2004, the extensive wood casework, shelves and open horizontal roof structure add a sense of lightness and contrast to the heavy brick walls. It was this wood and lightness that the artist sought to capture in the Riecker House mobile – composed of seven horizontal wood elements capped by red ends. This mobile, like much of the artist’s kinetic work, seeks to capture our attention via continual and intricate patterns of movement by the slightest of indoor breezes.
7 components- stained wood with red tips
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