A member of the Mies van der Rohe Society, George Rogge adhered to the architect’s philosophy when he began designing his Miller Beach home — a modernist three-story linear house with floor to 12-feet ceiling to floor sheaths of glass providing panoramic views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding area.
Like van der Rohe, who is considered one of the premiere 20th century architects, Rogge favors sleek minimalism, clear lines, spare use of color and open unornamented spaces emphasizing the concept of "less is more".
“The overall theme of the house is controlled space, but totally outside,” says Rogge. “The idea of the house is that there’s no color in the house, as there’s color outside.”
Rogge, president of The George C. Rogge Agency, followed the family tradition not only in working in the multi-generational insurance company, but also in his love of architecture. He and his father used to work on drawing projects together, and he still has his father’s award winning construction grade drawings that he completed in high school.
And so once he had obtained the land that would one day hold his home, he and his girlfriend Sue Rutsen talked to builder Pat Lee, who put them in touch with architect Marlo Tess Berg of Design House Studio.
“She had done some of the houses down the street and Pat said she would be good to work with as she listens to people,” recalls Rogge. ”I didn’t want someone to design the home. I had already done that. I wanted it to be drawn for construction.”
Working with Berg, Lee and Howard Lund, an architect and designer who specializes in bathrooms and kitchens, Rogge and Rutsen created a stunning home. Stairways are bounded by glass, not wood or metal, with the effect of creating a seemingly floating floor. The 28-foot long, two-inch thick bar was cast in sand by a manufacturer in Canada, giving it the appearance of sand over water. Carrera marble was used for countertops.
The 12-foot windows had to be made in Germany because no U.S manufacturer makes residential glass in that size. Despite the extra effort, the impact on the house’s design was worth it.
“It’s very powerful,” says Rogge about the view. “You’re on the highest dune overlooking [the lake]. You don’t have to peek out a window because everything is glass. You can stand anywhere on the second or third flood and have a view of north, south, east and west.”
Despite the home's size and the buffeting it takes from winds blowing off the lake, there’s no loss of energy.
“Only 2% of the UV rays can come through the windows,” says Rogge. “I have a heat gun and there’s no difference in temperature between the window and the walls.”
Built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, Rogge's home is a LEED Silver Home. The house also features two-flush toilets, HVAC and lighting, including the 84 LED lights on the third floor that can be controlled from anywhere by computer.
A book collector since he was young – Rogge says he has three houses full of non-fiction books about a variety of subjects including business, architecture, politics and the mafia – he now has a library for his tomes. He also has many books on landscape architecture, and copied famed landscaper Jens Jensen’s designs like the Columbus Park waterfall to incorporate into his yard.
When Rogge first sketched the house, he drew a library with an opening in the floor with views below, and even with all the collaborative efforts, much of what he originally visualized remains.
“One of the neat things,” says Rogge, “is that I still have a library with a hole in the floor.”