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The Glass House

Today my wife and I took a road trip to New Canaan, CT to visit Philip Johnson’s The Glass House, his highly influential work from 1949 that some consider his masterpiece. The beauty of this structure was its minimalist design and the way its glass walls blurred the lines between the interior and the exterior spaces. And remember, he designed and built this in 1949, 4 years after World War II ended.

The concept of a Glass House set in a landscape with views as its real “walls” had been developed by many authors in the German Glasarchitektur drawings of the 1920’s, and already sketched in initial form by Johnson’s mentor Mies. The building is an essay in minimal structure, geometry, proportion, and the effects of transparency and reflection….The house sits at the edge of a crest in Johnson’s estate overlooking a pond. The building’s sides are glass and charcoal-painted steel; the floor, of brick, is not flush with the ground but sits about 10 inches or so up. The interior is open with the space divided by low walnut cabinets; a brick cylinder contains the bathroom and is the only object to reach floor to ceiling. Johnson built several structures in his estate.

Today’s tour was the last of this season and the tour guide said that next season is almost sold out. If you get the opportunity or the motivation, I’d make the effort to go. It’s a really neat tour.

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