Late gay architect Philip Johnson’s famed Glass House to offer tours

Posted on 04 Apr 2014 at 10:59am

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Philip Johnson, the gay American architect who introduced the International Style in 1932, died in 2005 (at age 100), but is back in the news again.

Johnson, who designed the Interfaith Peace Chapel and other Dallas landmarks, is possibly best remembered for his Glass House, a one-room weekend retreat he built in 1948 New Canaan, Conn., using mostly glass and steel — unusual materials for home building at the time.

Although the house has been open to the public since 2007, beginning May 1 (and continuing through Nov. 30), visitors can choose between the guided tours offered and the unique new opportunity to tour at their own pace, spending as much time as they wish in the house and several other Johnson-designed buildings on the 49-acre grounds. The sites include the underground Painting Gallery, the Sculpture Gallery, the Library, “Da Monsta” (a collection of sculptures), and the lower landscape’s Pond Pavilion and Lincoln Kirstein Tower. Glass House guides will be available to provide background and answer questions. (They do ask you not throw stones.)

Visitors this year also will experience a special event, “Veil,” an installation by Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya. A veil of mist that will gradually disappear to reveal the landscape will periodically enclose the house. The landscaping designed by Johnson and David Whitney, his long-time companion, features manicured areas of gravel or grass and trees grouped in what Johnson called “outdoor vestibules.”

The house was named a National Historic Landmark in 1997.

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