One of the architectural gems of Connecticut is Philip Johnson's Glass House. Opened to the public in 2007, the 47 acre property in New Canaan is simply spectacular. When you consider Johnson started with 5.5 acres and built the glass house in 1949, you understand his description of the property as his "50 year diary". The guided tour starts at the top of the site near the road — all the land slopes downward and away from the street, protecting all the views from and of the house.
As visitors walk down the driveway, on the left is the Library/Study. Built in 1980 and used by Johnson as his study, the cone at top features a skylight. There are no windows on the driveway facing façade, but a small window opposite the cone provides a view of the Ghost House. The Ghost House is a folly built in 1984 and dedicated to Frank Gehry. It is not a functional structure, composed of chain link within a steel framework.
Continuing down the driveway, visitors pass a 1971 Donald Judd concrete sculpture and an impressively sized stone wall. The wall was built atop the original farm wall to block Johnson's view of his visitors' parked cars.
Traversing walkways through the clipped grass "carpet", enter the glass house directly into the living area, with seating ahead, kitchen to left and bedroom to the right. The cabinetry seen behind the painting forms the backdrop to the sleeping area and provides storage.
Between the dining area and the kitchen is this 1930 Elie Nadelman sculpture "Two Circus Women".
Stepping out the back of the house, the views are magnificent.
In the foreground is the pond with its 1962 Lake Pavilion. The folly ceiling height is only 63 inches. Behind and to the left is the Lincoln Kirstein Tower, a 30 foot tall scalable sculpture completed in 1985. Visitors are not allowed to climb, but we were told there is a secret inscription at the top which cannot be revealed to non-climbers!
Could you live in a glass house? I definitely could, and Peeping Toms be damned! No clutter and no place for clutter — none of the debris of daily living — for me, the pressure to put everything away would be too much! Of course, I don't know if Johnson actually lived this sparsely, but if he did, I salute him!
There are several more buildings to explore on the grounds, which I will share in my next post.