Summer Sights: The Glass House


It is probably as TreeHugger incorrect as it gets; There is no insulation, it is 100% glass. There is no solar control other than the trees around it. It probably isn't very comfortable to live in, even its owner and architect, Philip Johnson, said

"...Comfort is not a function of beauty... purpose is not necessary to make a building beautiful...sooner or later we will fit our buildings so that they can be used...where form comes from I don't know, but it has nothing at all to do with the funcitional or sociological aspects of our architecture."

And it is stunningly beautiful, on 47 acres with a 13 other buildings, and as of June 23 it is open to the public, thanks to Johnson, who willed it to the National Trust. The likes of this will not be built again. ::The Glass House by Philip Johnson


Alice Rawsthorne wrote in the International Herald Tribune:

The Glass House is one of the most inspiring examples of the mid-century American interpretations of European modernism or, as Johnson and Henry Russell Hitchcock dubbed it in their 1932 book, The International Style. Perched on a leafy hill with a picture postcard view across the Rippowam Valley, the house consists of a roof, a floor and four glass walls supported by eight steel piers. The bathroom and a fireplace are enclosed in a brick cylinder, leaving the rest of the 65-by-32 square-foot, or about 6-by-3 square-meter, space entirely exposed to the surrounding greenery.

Hopelessly impractical though a transparent home would be for a family - or for anyone who wasn't lucky enough to be able to afford quite so much land - it was perfect for the fastidious Johnson and his lovers. Some of their guests were less pernickety, and Johnson had no qualms about signaling his disapproval by picking up any coats or bags they left lying around and depositing them neatly in a closet.

The best way to see Glass House and the rest of the site is to follow its architect's advice. Whenever visitors arrived, Johnson greeted them with his top tip for architectural tourism: "Just shut up and look around." ::International Herald Tribune

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