Behind The Design Philip Johnson’s Glass House Interior Design

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The glass house philip johnson new canaan connecticut 1949

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“…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.”

Paul Heyer. Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America. New York: Walker and Company, 1966. LC 66-22504. discussion p279.

— Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Arthur Drexler, ed. Built in the USA: Post-war Architecture. p73.

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“He designed a small, boxy house, also highly influenced by Mies, for a client in Sagaponack, Long Island, in 1946, but his first significant building, and still perhaps his most famous, was not for another client at all but, like the Cambridge house, for his own use: it was the Glass House in New Canaan, completed in 1949 with its counterpoint, a brick guest house.

“Philip Johnson, one of the early advocates of the Modern Movement in the United States and one of the first architects to point to its shortcomings in the fifties, designed, in his own Glass House, one of the world’s most beautiful yet least functional houses; it was never envisioned as a ‘home’ (house) to live in but a life-style stage to live with. Ostensibly entirely in l’esprit nouveau of the Modern Movement, it was a building really expressing many concerns of classic design, from the elevated placement of an object in a space, to its serene proportion, general overall symmetry, and combining of a balance of elements with a meticulous refinement of detail….”

The floor is also made of red brick laid out in a herringbone pattern and is raised ten inches off of ground level. The only other divisions in the house besides the bathroom are discreetly done with low cabinets and bookshelves, making the house a single open room. This provides ventilation from all four sides flowing through the house as well as ample lighting.

— Dennis Sharp. Twentieth Century Architecture: a Visual History. p173.

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Lesson Quiz & Worksheet – Philip Johnson’s Glass House Quiz Course

Architect Philip Johnson Subscribers – login to skip ads Location New Caanan, Connecticut   map Date 1949   timeline Building Type architect’s house  Construction System steel frame with glass Climate temperate Context suburban Style Modern Notes “The Glass House”, with open plan, bath in brick cylinder.

Basic concept from Mies van der Rohe. Images

Nonetheless there are still many features that contribute to the beauty of the house. The clear glass panels create a series of lively reflections, including those of the surrounding trees, and people walking inside or outside of the house, layering them on top of one another creating everchanging images with each step taken around it.

William S. Saunders. Modern Architecture—Photographs by Ezra Stoller. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3816-2. exterior photo, p158. interior photo, 159, 160. — A wonderful & inspiring book of beautiful photographs by the master of architectural photography. Available at

Dennis Sharp. Twentieth Century Architecture: a Visual History. New York: Facts on File, 1990. NA 680.S517. ISBN 0-8160-2438-3. p173. — Available at

“The completely open glass and steel house is the major element of an architectural composition which includes outdoor sculpture and a separate blank-walled brick guest house. Spatial divisions in the glass building are achieved by a brick cylinder containing a bathroom, and by low walnut cabinets—one of them containing kitchen equipment. The red brick floor and cylinder are waxed to bring out a cold purple overtone. The steel is painted dark gray; steps and railing are of white granite.”

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— Philip Johnson. from Paul Heyer. Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America. p279.

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Johnson House, “The Glass House” at Archiplanet — Find, add, and edit info at the all-buildings collaboration

— Paul Goldberger, “Philip Johnson Is Dead at 98; Architecture’s Restless Intellect”, New York Times, 2005.0127.

“The compound was willed to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which plans to run it as a museum.”

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Text description provided by the architects. Inspired by Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, the Glass House by Philip Johnson, with its perfect proportions and its simplicity, is considered one of the first most brilliant works of modern architecture. Johnson built the 47-acre estate for himself in New Canaan, Connecticut. The house was the first of fourteen structures that the architect built on the property over a span of fifty years.

“The History of Interior Design”, by John Pile, ArchitectureWeek No. 65, 2001.0905, pC1.1.

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— Paul Heyer. American Architecture: Ideas and Ideologies in the Late Twentieth Century. p12.

Photo, Interior  at ArchitectureWeek   Photo, Exterior  at Pritzker Prize

“The painters have every advantage over us today…Besides being able to tear up their failures—we never can seem to grow ivy fast enough—their materials cost them nothing. They have no committees of laymen telling them what to do. They have no deadlines, no budgets. We are all sickeningly familiar with the final cuts to our plans at the last moment. Why not take out the landscaping, the retaining walls, the colonnades? The building would be just as useful and much cheaper. True, an architect leads a hard life—for an artist.”

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Yukio Futagawa, ed. Philip Johnson Johnson House, New Canaan, Connecticut. Tokyo: A.D.A. Edita Tokyo, 1972. xNA 737.J6 F8. plan, p44. site plan, p42-3.

“The serene Glass House, a 56-foot-by-32-foot rectangle, is generally considered one of the 20th century’s greatest residential structures. Like all of Mr. Johnson’s early work, it was inspired by Mies, but its pure symmetry, dark colors and closeness to the earth marked it as a personal statement: calm and ordered rather than sleek and brittle. …

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Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1997, the Glass House is still considered a modern marvel. The beauty in its composition along with the rolling landscape have people travelling to visit and experience it firsthand everyday, and with the lines of the Glass House and the other buildings smoothly blending in with the lines of the horizon and the surrounding landscape, one can feel a breathtaking sensation of endlessness.

ArchDaily Projects Houses United States Philip Johnson 1949 AD Classics: The Glass House / Philip Johnson AD Classics: The Glass House / Philip Johnson 00:00 – 17 May, 2010 by Adelyn Perez

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The guest house, connected to the Glass House with a stone path that lays over the expansive lawn immediately surrounding it, is a heavy brick structure, contrasting the extreme lightness and transparency expressed in the Glass House. 

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Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at

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Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Arthur Drexler, ed. Built in the USA: Post-war Architecture. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1945. LC 68-57299. NA712.N45 1968. discussion p73.

Paul Heyer. American Architecture: Ideas and Ideologies in the Late Twentieth Century. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1993. ISBN 0-442-01328-0. LC 92-18415. NA2750.H48 1993. discussion p12.

The interior of the Glass House is completely exposed to the outdoors except for the a cylinder brick structure with the entrance to the bathroom on one side and a fireplace on the other side. The floor-to-ceiling height is ten and a half feet and the brick cylinder structure protrudes from the top. 

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Although the house is the primary attraction on the site, Johnson used the expansive land around it to allow his imagination to run and build thirteen more structures that include a guest house, an art gallery, and a sculpture pavilion. 

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The art gallery is buried underground in order to not take away attention from the house, making it windowless which is uncommon for a gallery. Wright’s other notable experiment on the site included a sculpture gallery which is “an assymmetrical white-brick shed with a glass roof…conceived as a series of interlocking rooms that step down around an open, central space.”

Completed in 1949, the Glass House was the first design Johnson built on the property. The one-story house has a 32’x56′ open floor plan enclosed in 18-feet-wide floor-to-ceiling sheets of glass between black steel piers and stock H-beams that anchored the glass in place. The structure, however, did not impress Mies when he visited the house. It is said that the brilliant mentor to Philip Johnson stormed out in fury because of what he interpreted as a lack of thought in the details of the house.

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Marcus Whiffen and Frederick Koeper. American Architecture, Volume 1. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984. interior photo, f289. p359. — An excellent survey of American architecture. Reprint Edition Available at

“The vault and the box are two recurring themes in the history of architecture. Few boxes have ever reached the degree of sophistication to be found in Johnson’s steel-framed Glass House. Inside the transparent box, objects and fittings (for example the free-standing ‘buffet bar’) take on the significance of chess pieces—checkmate produces a perfect ambiance! The minence grise behind the design is Mies, and so is also (as a number of critics have playfully suggested) an eclectic pot-pourri ranging from Choisy’s Acropolis plan, Schinkel’s Casino, Mies’s own Farnsworth House sketches and IIT plan, Ledoux’s rationalism and possibly even Malevitch’s 1913 ‘Circle’ painting.”

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Cite: Adelyn Perez. “AD Classics: The Glass House / Philip Johnson” 17 May 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed .

See more: Projects Built Projects Architecture Classics Residential Architecture Houses ResidentialLandscapeNew CanaanHousesUnited States

Paul Goldberger, “Philip Johnson Is Dead at 98; Architecture’s Restless Intellect”, New York Times, 2005.0127.

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IMAGE COLLECTIONS : Behind The Design Philip Johnson’s Glass House Interior Design

The glass house philip johnson new canaan connecticut 19492 there are all kinds of ways to build a wallPhilip courtelyou johnson glass house living room new canaan connecticutt 1949Incorporate air space into your room designAbove johnsons living room furniture is by his friend ludwig mies van der rohe the glass house itself was directly inspired by a model of miessAbove a 1927 mies van der rohe glass and tubular steel table stands next to a ghost of a bed cloaked in a woven cotton spread that johnson brought backJohnson house new canaanPhilip johnsons the glass house completed in 1949 connecticut the barcelona lounge chairs the daybed and the sofa table by mies van der roheArchitecture design · philip johnson residence glass house interior