Glass house tour

Annie DeighnaughAugust 22, 2014

Went to tour the Philip Johnson's Glass House today...I found it so interesting...I'm not one much for modernism or minimalism, but this place was so completely open to the outside with incredible views, and was quite functional, that I think I could live there. (Thought of you kswl as the house has a brick floor.)

The bedroom is as completely open as is the rest of the house. The house originally had silk panels on the windows but apparently they disintegrated and were not replaced.

The swimming pool blended completely with the landscaping.

And overlooking the hill below the house, you had a view of the pond and the sculpture.

The grounds also include many out buildings including a library, a separate guest house, a glass-roofed sculpture gallery and an art gallery that looks like an underground bunker when you approach. So fascinating.

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I'm guessing the bathroom is in the round (looks like brick) area? Did someone really live in this house at one time or is it more for show?

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 9:42PM
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What's the fog?

Johnson added outbuilding rather than alter the original structure in any way.

Johnson was a colleague of Mies van der Rohe who designed and built Farnsworth House between 1945 and 1951. The Glass House was designed in 1945 and built by Johnson technically beat Mies.

I believe Mies felt Johnson's house was inferior, he said something like it was stuck right on the ground, but Johnson's probably lived a bit easier than Mies' house. Edith Farnsworth hated her house.

I always kinda liked this one, but I would need the drapes.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 9:43PM
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Here's the plan: the cylinder is part fireplace, part 3/4 bath: This was Johnson's own house, and he lived in it after it was built and died at the property, although I don't know if he was living primarily in Glass House or one of the other structures

This post was edited by palimpsest on Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 21:53

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 9:47PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Yes, the architect Philip Johnson lived there after he constructed it in 1949. He continued to use the place until his death in 2005. The guest house...the brick house...across the court yard has a larger bathroom which he also used as this one is pretty wee.

He used a lot of outbuildings to meet his various was a library, one was more of an office, the pavilion by the pond was for picnics.

The brick house is in stark contrast to the glass house with only a few round windows away from the view that are obscured with fabric panels. The walls were covered in fabric to make almost like a cozy nest. Unfortunately it is not open and in need of restoration due to water damage.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 9:53PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Artist Fujiko Nakaya does art installations of fog and she created one here. Twice an hour, the fog comes on to enshroud the house vs. it's normally open state. While it's interesting to experience, I much prefer the clear view. It's also made the lawn around the house very muddy and hard to walk in which isn't good as the view over the pediment is incredible.

Here is a link that might be useful: glass house fog

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 9:57PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

The thing is, Johnson saw drawings of MvdR's house and then designed this one, so he really took "heavy inspiration" and got the credit as he finished this one first.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 10:09PM
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Apparently it caused a rift, and Mies was somewhat vocal in his feelings that Johnson's house was inferior. A number of architectural critics think it is inferior to Farnsworth house in execution, anyway. But if "livability" is a primary criterion, Johnson's house probably surpasses Farnsworth House in that regard. Farnsworth House, as built, was an non-air conditioned glass box with no window screens built on buggy, swampy ground.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 10:15PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Well this place wasn't air conditioned either and I saw no screens on the doors...the windows didn't open. The guide said it is very hot in the summer in there. But Johnson's POV was who spends time inside in the summer? But at least it wasn't built in a bog.

And there were clearly engineering issues, like it had radiant heat in both the floor and the ceiling, but they failed and the one in the floor had to be replaced...they never did replace the one in the ceiling. The ceiling in the house shows clear evidence of water damage...a problem with building a flat roof in the NE, esp before they had the quality membranes that they have today. The fireplace was VERY shallow...while it looked dirty with ashes like it's been used, I'd be afraid to burn it at looks like all it would do is generate smoke.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 10:25PM
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Did Edith Farnsworth hate her house before or after Mies van der Rohe ended their affair? She was said to have had a love- hate relationship with her home.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 11:20PM
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think that arguments over the house were partly to blame for the soured relationship. Dr. Farnsworth didn't blindly trust Mies' genius and didn't agree with him on every detail.

Frank Lloyd Wright sometimes found himself in an adversarial relationship with clients by the end of a project ... usually over budget overruns or his refusal to accept client input.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 7:19AM
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Whoa, that brick house looks like a crematorium :-(

Love the Glass house, could never live in it though.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 7:26AM
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Thanks for the pics, Annie and for the history pamlisest. I did not know much about this house.

Really neat design, but I agree - too much glass. My 1958 house is made of large expanses of glass, but it's interrupted with walls of stone and block. Where there are walls of glass, the architect added long patio overhangs to protect from the sun. It is really well thought out. But, the Johnson designed this for himself - so he knew what he wanted.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 10:55AM
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I don't think you could get approval for the guest house as built, now. Annie are there any openings beside the main entries in either house?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 11:17AM
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This post was edited by palimpsest on Sat, Aug 23, 14 at 11:24

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 11:18AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

In the brick house, you have the main entrance and two round windows on the opposite side which are large enough for egress.

The main house has glass doors that open opposite the main entrance...the only way to ventilate the place.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 11:32AM
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So the round ones pivot? I also read that the Brick House contains all of the systems for the Glass House. I wondered where the hot water heater was. The purity of the house is dependent upon a separate building. Farnsworth has a service core in the middle. (Wasn't Johnson cheating just a little bit?)

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 12:02PM
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Mies v.d.R. & Johnson eventually collaborated on the Seagram Building design, Mies doing the building design & Johnson doing the interiors.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 1:19PM
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Thank for you for the pictures and for the discussion. I love the windows, not sure if I could live with that many permanently, but I'd be willing to give it a try. I would certainly appreciate more ventilation. How can the only ventilation be the two doors?

I love the Farnsworth house. In fact I own it - in lego. My daughter and I did it last Christmas. I want Falling Water next.

Pal, interesting point about FLW's relationships with his clients. Is this common with architects generally? Our architect doesn't like any idea he didn't come up with himself, including (especially?) ones that make the space more functional (currently discussing the deck with the GC, I'm sure the architect won't appreciate the change we've come up with). It really isn't an easy relationship to manage and it has detracted significantly from my enjoyment the building process.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 2:45PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I can't verify for sure that the windows opened. I just presumed they did. Originally there were 3 guest rooms and 3 round windows so I presume one in each room and can be used for egress, but the building is closed and I didn't examine them closely.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 7:05PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

The brick house also has skylights...

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 7:14PM
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Wow. In contrast to the glass house, the brick house has appears confining and dark. Maybe that was the point.

I think I know why the side facing the glass house is brick with no windows-so the owner could have privacy from the guest house occupants.

They are somewhat contrary- straight window openings vs. round windows, scant glass vs. all glass, hard floors vs carpet. They both compliment each other as boxes though.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 7:24PM
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Here's a link to the Farnsworth House, if anyone is interested. Fans of residential architecture find plenty to peruse around Chicago and this is just about an hour's drive (give or take) from the city center.

Here is a link that might be useful: Farnsworth House

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 11:50PM
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