Skyscraper architect Philip Johnson left a legacy of impressive buildings and skyscrapers, such as the Sony Building in Manhattan and Madrid’s improbably angled Puerta de Europa. But it’s his Glass House, in New Canaan, Connecticut, that is his most famous.
In Pictures: Amazing Homes Made Of Glass
“Sure, it’s just a box of clear glass in the woods, but that simplicity makes this 1949-era house stand out as particularly beautiful,” says Rich Beattie, executive online editor at Travel + Leisure. Adding to the tiny home’s appeal is a collection of modern art collected by Johnson’s partner of 45 years, David Whitney, which is featured all over the home and its grounds.
Some glass abodes enjoy their wooded nooks, as the surrounding foliage allows for privacy, a notion with which all glass houses play. Case Study House #22 (also known as The Stahl House) takes a different approach, and, due to its location atop the mountains surrounding Los Angeles, opens itself up to the city skyline below. The home, designed by Pierre Koenig, was a product of Arts and Architecture magazine’s 1945 project to inspire famous building designers to create modern and affordable homes for G.I.s returning from the war.
Ultimately, the project was abandoned, deemed a utopian idea that ultimately proved impractical. It did, however, leave behind some beautiful “experiments.” Visitors are allowed to view the privately-owned home on weekends.
As Philip Johnson designed his glass home, Mies van der Rohe was contemporaneously at work on his glass-walled Farnsworth House, situated outside Chicago. His work reportedly greatly influenced Johnson’s final vision. The resulting home, the Farnsworth House, located in Plano, Illinois, is located nearly 55 miles outside of the Windy City. “[It] is set off the ground, giving the appearance that it’s floating,” says Beattie. “And the continuous glass walls open the house to its natural setting, making indoors and outdoors feel like a seamless experience.”
The single-room window retreat, reminiscent of Johnson’s style, and has become so famous and influential that it was named a National Historic Landmark. Originally commissioned by Dr. Edith Farnsworth, who worked with van der Rohe on the designed and approved the final plans, the home was eventually the subject of a lawsuit first brought by van der Rohe and later countered by Farnsworth. Rumor has it that it wasn’t the home that drew her litigious ire upon completion, but rather the souring of a relationship with van der Rohe.