Philip Johnson Glass House, New Canaan, CT   2009-08-03


It would seem odd to take a Monday off and instead of heading to the beach, head off via train to New Canaan, CT to see a bit of architectural history, but this is me you are talking about.   As my wife enters her seventh month of pregnancy, a similarly-minded architecturally-oriented friend of mine accompanied me instead.   


Here is a description from Wikipedia  ...

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.


It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1997. The house was the place of Philip Johnson's passing on January 25, 2005 at the age of 98. After Johnson's death ownership of the Glass House passed to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which opened it to visitors in April 2007.


And also from Wikipedia, some famous examples of Johnson's architecture.    In particular, the Sony building on Madison and 56th in the 1980s, began the post-modernist era skyscraper design, moving away from the modernist view of all glass and steel.




More information at   

More of my photos at:


One of the reasons for going on a Monday morning is that the National Trust is permitted to have generally under 100 visitors per day.    The surrounding community consists of large, wealthy estates and apparently these residents do not appreciate 'large' numbers of people and cars in their neighborhood.    If you go to their website, you will see that tickets are sold out for the rest of 2009.    I reserved these tickets about 6 months ago and at the time all I could get was a Monday morning.


So basically this is the actual, residential unit below.    While quite architecturally significant, as you can see, Philip Johnson was a bit of a minimalist in terms of actual lifestyle.    He had a domestic partner, no children, and this house was set back from the road in a very private setting - so apparently they had no problem with the glass walls.








The Philip Johnson kitchen was quite simple in its design.   Suprisingly the stove and sink looked like they could have easily been bought at Sears.











The Philip Johnson living room was pretty much what you see here.    Also of note, with all his money and property, the building was never air conditioned, and had no TV.   He lived there right up until he died at age 99 in 2005.    The furniture below was designed by another famous architect, Mies van der Rohe, who designed the Seagram building on Park Avenue.










Now we come to the Johnson bedroom and bathroom.  Also very simple.    While unusual in its round shape, the bathroom only had a shower stall, no tub.








Now back to that apparent privacy issue.   What you see below is not a maintenance building or gallery, but the guest house.    Yes, it has solid brick walls on 3 sides, and from the second photo, you can see the windows face away from the glass building

There were other buildings on the property; in particular were his studio, and his own private gallery space.    Below is one of his prized works of art.    During his prime years, he used the estate mostly as a weekend retreat.    His main office was actually in the Museum of Modern Art, and was associated as a benefactor of that museum throughout his architectural career, dating back to the early days of that museum in 1939.








Word To HTML Converter