philip johnson: residential architecture

My last blog written about some of the more famous Minneapolis buildings and their architects included the IDS Center designed by Philip Johnson. I decided to take a look at some of his residential architecture and thought it would make for a pretty interesting subject for this months topic.

The picture of the house on the front page is probably his most famous and most respected. It is known simply as “Glass House” and was built in New Canaan, CT in the late 1940’s for himself. The house is a classic example of what is referred to as “International Style” which was a new architectural movement based on on the use of new building materials, the emphasis on volume rather than mass, lack of ornament, and the idea of a buliding’s form reflecting it’s function. Some other notable architects that fall into this category include Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius.

Today, Johnson’s Glass House is owned and operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Tours are offered of the 45 acre estate which over the last fifty years has seen many other additions including a Guest House, Lake Pavilion, Painting Gallery, Sculpture Gallery, Ghost House, Studio, and Visitors Pavilion.

The house which is pictured at the top was built in 1946 and based on plans drawn up by Mies van der Rohe, the modernist Farney House (above) is nestled in the dunes of Sagaponack (the Hamptons) supported on raised log piers. The house, which was expanded and updated by local architect Mark Matthews in 1989 – perhaps spoiling the purity of Johnson’s work in the eyes of some – features a stunning glass-enclosed living room with spectacular ocean views. The 5,000-sq-.ft., 8-bed, 7-bath wooden residence sits on 3.6 oceanfront acres with 363 ft. of pristine Hamptons shoreline, and is accessed by a private road situated a substantial distance from any public beach access. Last year this house was listed at $35 million dollars!

Along with the IDS Center, Johnson was also responsible for designing a home in Wayzata, MN which was completed in 1954 for Richard Davis (above bottom right). Sorry for the ariel view but I had no luck finding a picture on-line. Davis was a prominent art collector and housing his collection was a major focal point for the design. The home was later owned by Mike and Penny Winton who were responsible for the addition of a Frank Gehry designed, guest house.

click for Glass House

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