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Going into the Glass House | by Melody Kramer
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Going into the Glass House

I was lucky enough to visit the Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan, CT before it opened to the public. As you may know, the architect Philip Johnson lived in the house from 1949 until his death in 2005.


From the street, you can't see the house, which is literally (except for the toilet stall) completely enclosed in glass. What I found most fascinating, though, was how the house -- and the rest of the buildings on the 47-acre property -- blend into the surrounding landscape. On the tour, I learned this was done on purpose -- Johnson wanted the lines of the house to blend in with the lines of the horizon and the landscape.


If you can get to New Canaan to see this house, do. It is truly a marvel. I went in spring, but my tour guide mentioned that each season presents a new landscape, and a new way to see the glass house within it's surroundings.


After my visit, I purchased Glass House: Toshio Nakamura, a collection of Glass House photographs taken by renowned photographer Michael Moran in each season-- and Philip Johnson: The Constancy of Change , by Emmanuel Petit of the Yale School of Architecture. There is also a very good documentary about Philip Johnson called Philip Johnson: Diary of An Eccentric Architect. The documentary features Philip Johnson talking about his life and architectural influences. I highly recommend it.


There are also two guidebooks that are considerably cheaper, if you're thinking about visiting the Glass House and would enjoy a bit more background. The Glass House, by Dorothy Hickson Dunn, is a guidebook to visiting the Glass House. And William Earl's The Harvard Five in New Canaan: Midcentury Modern Houses by Marcel Breuer, Landis Gores, John Johansen, Philip Johnson, Eliot Noyes, and Others is a romp through five houses in New Canaan built in the modernist style, so you can make a day and visit all of them. Enjoy!

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Taken on May 2, 2007