Rockbrook Residence

Rockbrook Residence (Dallas, Texas): exterior view

Meyer and Residential Design

Juxtaposing Geometry and the Organic

In 1956, Meyer brought about the realization of a residence for Mr. and Mrs. Milton Tobian. Employing International Style vocabulary, the Rockbrook Residence relies heavily on a palette of rectilinear forms in consonance. While the planar nature of the architectonic forms provides a sense of stasis, the dynamic nature of mature live oaks and other surrounding forms of vegetation visually provides a harmonious arrangement of the built environment and nature.

Nestled under the canopy of oak boughs, the flat roof overhangs complement the natural shading structure of the trees. The idea of analogous, man-made and natural structures becomes evident at the Rockbrook Residence and later becomes a motif throughout many of Meyer’s pieces.. The use of sunshades, porches, pagodas, and other forms of man-made shading devices requisite in mediating the Texas climate.

With the completion of this Rockbrook Residence, reveals a progression within his architectural aesthetic. Whereas Meyer’s Nakoma Residence illustrates a strict adherence to Modernist principles in respect to materials, the Rockbrook Residence begins to convey a greater responsiveness to the indigenous material palette. Composing soft Mexican brick and redwood posts and beams against large expanses of glass, Meyer portrays a domestic project decorous of the North Texas location.

Clark, C. (2010, April 29). Regarding Architect Howard Meyer. Interview presented at Howardmeyer.org.


Rockbrook Residence (Dallas, Texas): central courtyard

Architectural Influence on Howard Meyer

An Essence of Japoisme

Manipulations of spatial divisions, connectivity of interior and exterior areas, and reliance of the interplay of the natural with geometry are among several of the espoused principles s of Modernist movement borrowed from traditional Japanese building practices. The beauty in the simplicity of Japanese architectural ideologies becomes apparent in Meyer’s Rockbrook Residence.

This gesture, reminiscent of traditional Japanese shoji screens, adds a new dimensionality to Meyer’s Modernist qualities. Rooting the architecture detail in geometric measure, the Rockbrook Residence depicts an essence of both Modernist and Japanese influence.

The U-form massing around a central courtyard at the Rockbrook Residence additionally reveals a strong Japoisme tendency. As the architectural form of the home embraces a moment of nature, one cannot deny Meyer’s motive in creating a space with a strong focus on providing reflectivity to nature, a practice often employed in Japanese architecture. As a large majority of the interior spaces peer out onto the courtyard, Meyer clearly relates his intention for an overwhelming tie to nature. The tectonic features employed by Meyer at the Rockbrook Residence even have an air of this eastern Asian influence with a pared-down dougong system conveyed through an intertwining of horizontal and vertical supports.

Additionally, asymmetric and dynamic arrangement of vegetation within this courtyard evokes Meyer’s unique incorporation of Modernist take on traditional Japanese building culture.


Rockbrook Residence (Dallas, Texas): exterior spatial programming

Exterior Spatial Programming at Rockbrook Residence

Focusing on Procession and Hierarchy of Space

Captured through a series of framed apertures, Meyer’s Rockbrook Residence reflects a spatial scheme of procession through a sequence of deftly composed spaces.

Although access to the courtyard is limited to an off-center staircase, the connection of the entry sequence to that of the courtyard, even if primarily visual, displays the open-concept nature of spatial programming of prominent Modernist ideals.

Meyer, in this particular hierarchy from the entry sequence to the courtyard, displays a similarity in style to the early practitioner in the Modern aesthetic Adolf Loos. The interplay of spaces connected at differing heights became a signature element of Loosian spatial programming that added a quality of hierarchy in the prominence of spaces. As the plane of the courtyard is raised above that of the entry, a certain sense of theatricality and pomp is given to the courtyard space. Consequently, Meyer through a clear sense of hierarchy within the vertical arrangement of space delineates importance and almost a sense of sanctity and serenity with the elevated placement of the courtyard.


Rockbrook Residence (Dallas, Texas): interior view

Interiors by Meyer

Defining a Materialism of the Vernacular

Unlike the Nakoma Residence, the Rockbrook Residence reveals a departure from the stark ubiquitous, white-walled interiors with subtle touches of exposed brick planes. Meyer’s dedication to creating spaces indicative of setting and environment became increasing apparent at the Rockbrook Residence.

Unadorned teak-paneled walls with fir eaves give this residential project a rich relationship to the Texas climate. With organic materials providing the primary backdrop for the public living spaces, Meyer reveals a growing sense of warmth and intimacy as new concerns in his body of work. The use of large amounts of this exotic material for architecture, furniture, and other feature allows for this residence to be unique within his oeuvre. Sources;

Sources; Clark, C. (2010, April 29). Regarding Architect Howard Meyer. Interview presented at Howardmeyer.org.


Rockbrook Residence (Dallas, Texas): wood planked ceiling

Exterior Connectivity at 9612 Rockbrook

The Importance of Framing Views and Linearity

The use of glass in the Rockbrook Residence likewise plays an integral role in the unique aesthetic. The living areas of the Rockbrook Residence incorporate both screen-like and unadorned expanses within the exposed brick and wood clad interiors. The focus of interior space on the exteriors and vice versa mp of interior and exterior connectivity is reiterated.

The significance of line develops into a crucial element of visual congruency. Both in the arrangement of the wood planking and as well as the complex arrangement of space indicates this concern. The sloped beams of the roof structure are reminiscent of Japanese timber framing and joinery fluidity as they connect to the horizontal supporting members over, other forms of line come in forms more abrupt in appearance as the intersect and partition space. While partitions reveal Meyer’s sense of line in heightening the sense of verticality, acuity with line by heightening a sense of verticality and loftiness in a space associated with coziness and intimacy.


Rockbrook Residence (Dallas, Texas): clerestory windows

Meyer and Elements of Classical Architecture

Antiquity Revolutionizes Organic Illumination

The use of clerestory glazing at the Rockbrook Residence provides a technique for provision for rare kinds of light. Located on the north and east sides, the clerestory windows provide for high-level lighting. Meyer’s implementation of clerestory glazing allows for a natural version of his early forms of cove lighting. This synthesis of organic and man-made forms of lighting provides the interiors of the residence with a myriad of rich daylighting conditions.