The Glass House, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, announces the complete restoration of the historic Brick House (1949) designed by Philip Johnson. Completed just months before the Glass House, the Brick House was an integral part of the architect’s original plan for the site, offering two essential halves to a single composition. Closed to the public since 2008 due to ongoing damage from water infiltration, it has left half of the property’s core architectural story untold. The National Trust has secured $1.8 million to restore, renovate, and conserve the Brick House and its collections. Restoring the Glass House campus to its full glory as a National Historic Landmark will coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Glass House in 2024.
The Brick House, aka the “Guest House,” is an essential foil to the glass pavilion it faces. Clad in iron spot brick laid in a Flemish bond pattern, the structures are linked by a grassy court and offer a lesson in contrasts. The Brick House served as both a guest house and a retreat for Johnson and his partner, David Whitney until they died in 2005. Given the vital role of the Brick House in the site’s composition and social history, it is one of the most important and central assets of the 49-acre historic site. Restoration of this building will significantly expand the site’s interpretation and programming, allowing it to engage new visitors and preserve and advance understanding of 20th-century architecture and LGBTQ cultural heritage.
“We are incredibly excited to embark on this project and finally be able to introduce visitors to such an integral part of the Glass House story. Launching this major restoration now, as we reach the 75th anniversary of the Glass House’s construction, is a testament to our commitment as stewards of this National Trust Historic Site. We look forward to using the Brick House as a catalyst for more projects ahead – both future restorations of our buildings, landscape, and collections and as inspiration for new site-specific artistic commissions in the future,” says Kirsten Reoch, the Glass House’s new executive director.
Predicated on Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s idea for a “courthouse” that surrounds a central court, Johnson’s home splits the two wings apart: one opaque and private, the other transparent and exposed. Although both structures are 56 feet long, the 900-square-foot rectangular Brick House is only half as deep as the Glass House. Their fundamental connection is underscored by the fact that the Brick House contains the mechanical equipment for both buildings and is connected by underground pipes and wiring necessary to support the Glass House. Philip Johnson spent his first night on the property in the Brick House.
As a guest house, the Brick House accommodated prominent overnight visitors, including Phyllis Lambert and Andy Warhol. But beginning in the 1950s, the house was primarily used by Johnson and Whitney as a retreat from the exposure of the Glass House, affording Johnson the privacy to relax and the freedom to modify the interior décor in a way the Glass House rarely provided. Originally, the Brick House contained three rooms of equal size, each with a porthole window. In 1953, two rooms were combined into a single large bedroom with an adjoining reading room and bath. This interior was opulent and luxurious with low, sleek, white vaults decorating the bedroom based on the breakfast room of the Sir John Soane House in London (completed in 1824) and harbingers of the elements later found in Johnson’s design of the 1954-56 Congregation Kneses Tifereth Israel Synagogue in Port Chester, New York, and the 1964 New York State Theater (now David H. Koch Theater) at Lincoln Center. The walls were covered in a patterned cotton fabric designed by Fortuny. The Clouds of Magellan, 1953, a sculpture by Ibram Lassaw, hung prominently on the wall above the bed, where dimmer switches (a novelty at the time) were placed to control indirect lighting, further enhancing the spare yet exotic sleeping area. Works collected by Johnson and Whitney hung in the corridor connecting the reading room, which held Johnson’s personal library of philosophy, history, art history, and fiction books. In addition, the privacy of the Brick House allowed for creature comforts such as air conditioning, television, and, for a period, a sauna.
Restoring and reopening the Brick House has long been the museum’s greatest preservation priority. Built at the base of a slope, the building has been susceptible to water infiltration since its conception. And, with failures of the flat roof and skylights, the building damage has been extensive. Despite temporary protection measures, the interior has experienced deterioration of plaster, mold growth, and rusting mechanical systems. However, all objects and furnishings have been preserved and stored safely off-site until restoration commences. The project will be a complete interior and exterior restoration, which includes improvements to site drainage, exterior masonry and metal cleaning and restoration, replacement of the roof and skylights, restoration of interior plaster and finishes, restoration of the building’s three distinctive porthole windows and entrance door, full replacement and upgrade of the mechanical and electrical systems serving both the Brick House and Glass House, and the conservation and reinstallation of artwork, furniture, and books.
Beginning in 2022, National Trust for Historic Preservation Graham Gund Architect Mark Stoner, AIA utilized extensive conservation studies and surveys completed by Li – Saltzman Architects, PC in 2010 to develop a thorough architectural restoration and mechanical renovation plan for the Brick House. In addition to Mr. Stoner, the project design team includes Landtech Consultants (Civil Engineering), Altieri Sebor Wieber (MEP Engineering), and RSE Associates (Structural Engineering). Hobbs, Inc., has been chosen as the general contractor for the project. Fortuny, the source for the bedroom’s fabric wallcoverings, has generously donated the production of the same fabric to replace the water-damaged original. Edward Fields Carpet Makers, who worked with Johnson on the original 1953 bedroom carpet, will generously provide replacement carpets.
Approximately 13,000 people visit the Glass House each year, and reopening the Brick House is critical to providing visitors with a complete experience of the Glass House campus. This project is scheduled to be completed and unveiled in April 2024 at the opening of the annual season of tours, art installations, and public programs. 2024 is also the 75th anniversary of the Glass House and the Brick House, completed in 1949, and this marked year will host a series of special events, featured artists, and exhibitions. Opening the Brick House provides new and exciting avenues for the Glass House site to expand its interpretation, continue to preserve and advance an understanding of LGBTQ heritage, and deepen its impact on new and diverse communities.
The Glass House, built between 1949 and 1995 by architect Philip Johnson, is a National Trust for Historic Preservation site in New Canaan, CT. The pastoral 49-acre landscape comprises fourteen structures, including the Glass House (1949), and features a permanent collection of 20th-century paintings and sculptures, along with temporary exhibitions. The campus serves as a catalyst for the preservation and interpretation of modern architecture, landscape, and art and a canvas for inspiration and experimentation. The tour season runs from mid-April through mid-December, and reservations are required.
Hobbs, Inc. Brothers Scott and Ian Hobbs are committed to honoring Hobbs’ heritage of integrity, quality, and customer service. Hobbs, Inc. has maintained the highest standards in building custom homes for nearly seventy years. Hobbs’ approach for the Brick House Restoration is to join forces with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Glass House teams to learn what is most important to them about this project, to analyze the site, and to work with them together to deliver the best results for this legacy project for present and future generations. Ted Hobbs, who founded the company in 1954, and Mike Hobbs, who ran the company for 25 years, constructed many modern houses designed by the Harvard Five in New Canaan and surrounding areas during their careers. Over the last 25 years, Hobbs, Inc. has been involved with the historic restoration of numerous architecturally significant residences in Fairfield County, Westchester County, and the Hamptons. They also recently completed the restoration of Greenwood Gardens in Short Hills, New Jersey.
Fortuny is a world-famous luxury textile design and manufacturing company known for their exquisite and elegant fabrics since 1921. Fortuny fabrics are still produced exclusively in the original factory on the small island of Giudecca in Venice, using the original machinery and methods established by founder and inventor Mariano Fortuny (1871-1949) over a century ago. Using proprietary dyes and applications of metallic patterns, the company continues their deep-rooted tradition of art and alchemy to create handcrafted textiles and products that are each a unique work of art.
Edward Fields Carpet Makers is a vanguard of American design that has created heirloom-quality rugs and carpets for almost 90 years. From its inception through the present, the company embodies the essence of a contemporary brand. In the mid-1930s, Edward Fields developed the first multi-directional tufting tool, known as the “Magic-Needle,” which would define the company’s signature hand-tufted quality and forever change carper production. Edward Fields coined the term ‘area rug.’ He pioneered innovative design, collaborating with notable visionaries, including Raymond Loewy, Philip Johnson, Van Day Truex, Marion Dorn, and George Nakashima. In 2005, Edward Fields Carpet Makers joined the House of Tai Ping. In keeping with the brand’s legacy of mid-century modernist aesthetics, Edward Fields Carpet Makers continues collaborating with inspiring creative contemporaries.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a privately funded nonprofit organization that works to save America’s historic places to enrich our future, reimagining historic sites for the 21st century. The guiding principle of this initiative is that historic sites must be dynamic, relevant, and evolving to foster an understanding of history and culture that is critical, sensory, and layered.
The concept of a home has evolved beyond just being a place to come back from work, eat, and rest. People now seek homes that offer more than just basic comforts; they look for spaces that reflect their personal style and contribute positively to their lifestyle.
In real estate, local trends can significantly impact how we view home luxury. For example, in Tampa, there was a notable 2.5% drop in home prices in October 2023 compared to the previous year. This change highlights the value of investing in your home to not only enhance your living experience but also to potentially increase your property’s market value.
Understanding how to elevate your home into a space of luxury and comfort is more important than ever. Let’s discuss how to achieve this.
To create a luxurious bathroom, focus on elements like bathtubs, fancy showers, modern fixtures, and ambient lighting. A well-selected bathtub can serve as a centerpiece, offering both comfort and style.
Fancy showers with multiple heads or steam options can turn daily routines into a spa-like experience. The right fixtures can add a touch of modern elegance, while ambient lighting sets a relaxing mood.
High-quality tiles contribute to the room’s overall elegance and durability. In the Tampa real estate market, where homes often receive two offers and sell within three weeks, a luxury bathroom can be a significant selling point.
This can lead to quicker and more lucrative offers. Working with reliable Tampa bathroom remodeling experts can ensure your bathroom is not only beautiful but also a valuable addition to your home.
Invest in Quality Furniture
When selecting furniture, prioritize both comfort and style. Choose materials known for their durability and elegance, such as leather and solid wood. These materials are not only long-lasting but also contribute to the overall sophistication of your space.
Instead of filling rooms with numerous ordinary items, focus on acquiring a few exceptional pieces. This approach ensures that each piece stands out and adds a distinct character to the room.
Consider the design and functionality of the furniture, ensuring it meets your lifestyle needs while enhancing the aesthetic appeal of your home.
Smart Home Technology
Automated lighting systems enable you to control ambiance easily and can adapt to different times of the day. Heating systems that can be remotely controlled ensure your home is always at a comfortable temperature.
Security systems with smart technology offer peace of mind with features like remote monitoring and alerts to your smartphone. These technologies are designed to simplify daily life, making home management more efficient and convenient.
With smart home technology, you can customize various aspects of your home environment with just a few clicks or voice commands. This not only adds to the comfort and ease of living but also provides a modern, upscale feel to your home.
Outdoor Living Spaces
Adding a well-designed patio provides a versatile area for both relaxation and entertaining guests. An outdoor kitchen extends the functionality of your home, allowing for enjoyable outdoor cooking and dining experiences.
Including a cozy fire pit area creates a warm and inviting space, ideal for gathering with family and friends, especially during cooler evenings. These outdoor additions not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of your home but also increase its usable space. They offer a seamless blend of comfort and style, making the most of your outdoor area.
Art and Decor
When selecting art or decor, it’s important to choose pieces that align with your taste and complement the overall design of your space. Art can serve as a striking focal point in any room, instantly drawing attention and adding visual interest.
Decor items like vases, mirrors, and decorative cushions can enhance the aesthetic appeal and create a more refined and elegant atmosphere. It’s also beneficial to consider the scale and color scheme of these pieces to ensure they harmonize with your existing decor.
Lighting for Mood and Ambiance
Effective lighting is key to creating the right mood and ambiance in your home, significantly enhancing its luxury and comfort. Layered lighting is an approach that combines different types of lighting to achieve a balanced and dynamic atmosphere.
Ambient lighting illuminates an entire room, creating a base layer of light. Task lighting is focused and brighter, designed for specific activities like reading or cooking. Accent lighting highlights architectural features or artwork, adding depth and interest to the space.
The right mix of these lighting types can dramatically alter the feel of a room, making it more inviting and elegant. Additionally, using dimmer switches allows you to adjust the light intensity according to the time of day or the desired ambiance.
High-End Kitchen Upgrades
Investing in top-quality appliances in the kitchen is a practical move, as they offer better performance and longevity. These appliances not only make cooking and food storage more efficient but also add a modern, sophisticated look to your kitchen.
Marble countertops are another luxurious addition. They are durable, heat resistant, and offer a timeless elegance that can transform the aesthetic of the space.
Additionally, custom cabinetry allows for personalization in design and maximizes space utilization. These cabinets can be tailored to fit your specific storage needs and design preferences, ensuring a seamless integration with the overall kitchen layout.
Luxurious Flooring Options
Hardwood floors are a popular choice for their timeless appeal and durability. They bring warmth and natural beauty to any room and can be refinished over time to maintain their look.
Natural stone flooring, such as marble or granite, is another luxurious option that adds elegance to your home. These materials are known for their durability and distinct patterns, making each installation unique.
High-quality tiles offer versatility in design and are available in various textures and colors. They are easy to maintain and can mimic the appearance of more expensive materials like stone or wood.
Whichever option you choose, it’s important to consider factors like durability, maintenance, and how the flooring complements the rest of your home’s design.
Designing personalized spaces in your home, like a home office, library, or hobby room, is an effective way to enhance its luxury and functionality. A home office, for instance, should be equipped with ergonomic furniture and adequate storage to create a productive work environment.
A library can be a quiet sanctuary with shelves for your books and comfortable seating for reading. For hobby rooms, consider the requirements of your hobby, whether it’s crafting, music, or gaming, and design the space to facilitate these activities.
Transforming your home into a luxurious space involves thoughtful choices across various aspects. From selecting quality furniture and upgrading your bathroom to integrating smart technology, each element plays a crucial role.
Remember, luxury is not just about aesthetics but also about functionality and personalization. By focusing on these key areas, you can enhance your living experience and increase your home’s value. With these tips, you’re well on your way to creating a home that’s both luxurious and uniquely yours.