Philip Johnson Glass House

New Canaan, CT
United States
Philip Johnson Glass House

Landscape Information

Glass House

Situated at the core of a 47-acre estate assembled between 1946 and 1990, the iconic Glass House was completed in 1949 as the weekend home of curator and architect Philip Johnson. Johnson called the house a platform for viewing nature, and termed the property his fifty-year diary after guiding its evolution for half a century. He used the site's original rock walls as organizing elements, perceiving the framed meadows as garden rooms and the mature trees as punctuation points. Through continuous editing of second-growth forest he created a picturesque landscape from overgrown New England farmland. Unnamed influences are Christopher Tunnard, Le Corbusier, the picturesque gardens of Japan, and the Ohio landscape of Johnson's childhood.

The site includes three renovated vernacular houses and eleven experimental modern structures that were the basis for later professional work. A pond with a fountain and a banqueting pavilion were created in 1960-62, and a serpentine driveway followed in 1964. The 1965 painting gallery, buried in an earthen berm, references the Treasury of Atreus. The 1995 deconstructivist-style Da Monsta was conceived as a visitor's center and gatehouse to the 1977 post-modernist gate. Two outdoor sculptures by Donald Judd and Julian Schnabel reflect Johnson's impulse to site artwork in the landscape. David Whitney, Johnson’s partner and collaborator on the estate’s evolution from 1960, created several formal and informal gardens, two of which survive along with traces of other plantings. The property was named a National Historic Landmark in 1997 and is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.