Architect: Philip Johnson
Location: New Canaan, Connecticut
Photographs: Melody Kramer
The first of the fourteen structures built by Philip Johnson over a span of fifty years, the Glass House, also known as the Johnson House, is an excellent depiction of minimalism, simplicity and transparency. Built in 1998, the Glass House depicts the early use of steel and glass in house design, yet captures a progressive essence well ahead of its time. Situated in New Canaan, Connecticut, and hidden away from the main street, the 56 feet long, 32 feet wide and 10½ feet high structure offers a majestic view of the surrounding landscape.
The Glass House was initially the residence of Philip Johnson. It sits peacefully against a backdrop of lush green grass and aged trees. The architect has demonstrated brilliant technique in enclosing a bathroom, a kitchen, a dining room, and a bedroom all in one large glass room. This eccentric, yet stunning structure has hence captured the eyes and hearts of many.
The Glass House, as the name suggests, is done mainly in glass. The use of red bricks with the glass accentuates the rustic look of the façade. The glassed walls make the surrounding landscape the ‘wallpaper’ for the eccentric abode, as Philip Johnson once famously remarked. The floor is beautifully done, also in red brick.
It is laid out in a herringbone pattern which perfectly complements the otherwise sparsely decorated house. The floor is raised ten inches above ground level, which gives it a subtle elevation from the greenery that surrounds it.
The interior of the house speaks of simple elegance. The open space is intricately divided by low walnut cabinets and bookshelves. The Glass House enjoys minimalistic furniture, much of which are works of the famous interior designer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
Although the entire house is completely visible from the outside, the only structure that stays hidden from onlookers is a 10½ feet long brick cylinder. The cylinder is the only structure in the Glass House to rise all the way up to the ceiling. It contains the only bathroom in the house, and protrudes above the roof. The brick cylinder sits neatly between the fireplace on one side and the entrance on the other.
The efficiency with which Johnson has managed to enclose the different rooms on a mere 32 feet by 56 feet rectangular piece of land is commendable. The completely exposed view afforded by the glass walls offers a constant connection with the serenity of the nature that surrounds the house. The Glass House is a haven for nature lovers, and a living tribute to a great architect.