• The Glass Cube, designed by Ralph Rapson, FAIA.

    Credit: Courtesy Rapson Architects

    The Glass Cube, designed by Ralph Rapson, FAIA.

While cleaning out my files in preparation for our office renovation, I came across notes from a conversation I had sometime in the mid-2000’s with Ralph Rapson, FAIA. Despite Rapson’s international renown (not to mention his association with the best-named chair in history, the Rapson Rapid Rocker) he was approachable and chatty. We talked about his weekend house, the Glass Cube on the Apple River in Wisconsin. Here are some excerpts:

*“It took a year and a half to figure out where to place the house. We camped out to get the shift of the winds.”

*“It’s a crazy kind of place. I don’t know that I’d recommend it for everyone. It’s fun at night—you can watch the fireflies and little animals. I always found it very exhilarating to be in the house in a lightning storm.”

*“Even with a hazy sun in the winter, we keep the sliding doors wide open. It builds up warmth in the daytime. The marble absorbs the heat.”

*“It’s a 25-foot cube with two balconies that hang in the space. The lower level has an enclosed bath and kitchen. I was going to make the bathroom out of one-way glass, but my wife put her foot down. I faced it in maple.”

Rapson died in 2008, but his family still spends time at the Glass Cube. His son Toby Rapson, AIA, was kind enough to send me this photo of the house. “I was in high school while my father was designing it,” Toby wrote me in an email. “Now his grandchildren are adults (or nearly so) and they are enjoying the wonderful site and structure.”