Philip Johnson "Masterpiece" Too Small to Live


image: Rob Bennett for New York Times

The Ball House is thought of as a livable version of Philip Johnson's Glass House, (see Summer Sights: The Glass House) , a modest "jewel box" built in 1953 for Alice Ball, "a single woman with a passion for ruthless spatial efficiency."

Unfortunately, it is sitting on a big property in New Canaan, Connecticut, where 1773 square feet is about the size of a walk-in closet. Andy Newman writes in the New York Times that was bought by an architect-developer who wanted to use it as "a worthy pool house for a much more au courant dwelling to be built at the back of the property."


image: Rob Bennett for New York Times

Newman writes: The fact that such an architectural trophy has gone unbought for a year speaks less about any ambivalence for modernism, or even a softness in local property values, than about the domestic expectations of the superprivileged. "No one builds with less than five bedrooms now," said Prudy Parris, [architect-owner] Ms. Ross's real estate agent. "People with no kids or one kid want five bedrooms."

Christopher Wigren, the deputy director of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, made the same point in an interview with the online edition of Preservation magazine: "People in a position to pay $3 million for a house want more than a galley kitchen." ::New York Times

I keep hoping that high fuel prices will lead to a reassessment of priorities and start a flight to quality from the current obsession with quantity, but apparently not in New Canaan, Connecticut.

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