Glass House  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
The Glass House

The Glass House or Johnson house, built in 1949 in New Canaan, Connecticut, was designed by Philip Johnson as his own residence and is a masterpiece in the use of glass. It was an important and influential project for Johnson and his associate Richard Foster, and for modern architecture. The building is an essay in minimal structure, geometry, proportion, and the effects of transparency and reflection.

Philip Johnson's early influence as a practicing architect was his use of glass; his masterpiece was the Glass House (1949) he designed as his own residence in New Canaan, Connecticut, a profoundly influential work. 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 1920s, and the Farnsworth House by Johnson's mentor Mies had achieved some notoriety. 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 on 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 10 inches above. The interior is an open space divided by low walnut cabinets; a brick cylinder contains the bathroom and is the only object to reach floor to ceiling.

Johnson continued to build structures on his estate as architectural essays. Offset obliquely fifty feet from the Glass House is a guest house, echoing the proportions of the Glass House and completely enclosed in brick (except for small round windows at the rear). It contains a bathroom, library, and single bedroom with a gilt vaulted ceiling and shag carpet. It was built at the same time as the Glass House and can be seen as its formal counterpart. Johnson stated that he deliberately designed it to be less than perfectly comfortable, as "guests are like fish, they should only last three days at most".

Later, Johnson added a painting gallery with an innovative viewing mechanism of rotating walls to hold paintings (influenced by the Hogarth displays at Sir John Soane's house), followed by a sky-lit sculpture gallery. The last structures Johnson built on the estate were a library and a reception building, the latter, red and black in color and of curving walls. Johnson viewed the ensemble of one-room buildings as a total work of art, claiming that it was his best and only "landscape project."

The Philip Johnson Glass House is a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and now open to the public for tours.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Glass House" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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