Glass House – New Canaan, Connecticut - Atlas Obscura

Glass House

New Canaan, Connecticut

Home of Philip Johnson, one of the 20th century's most influential architects. 


Philip Johnson was never much into throwing stones. This may have been because he was an architect and art collector. Or, it could have had something to do with the glass house he lived in for much of his life.

Johnson is widely considered one of the most influential modern American architects, and his legacy is well preserved at his estate in New Canaan, Connecticut. On Johnson’s property is his famous Glass House, which was completed in 1949.

The house is around 2,000 square feet and, aside from steel around its edges, has floor-to-ceiling glass around its entire exterior. Visitors standing in front of the property can see sunlight blazing through the rear walls of the home, seamlessly connecting the house with nature. Johnson famously quipped that he had the most beautiful and expensive wallpaper the world had ever known.

Aside from the unique and transparent walls of Johnson’s retreat, the house is also famously only one room, featuring a kitchen, living room, and sleeping area. The bathroom in the center of the house is the only area with enclosed and opaque walls. Although Johnson lived in the house during parts of his life, he eventually utilized the glass house for entertainment only.

Along with the glass house, Johnson designed and built other constructions on his estate including an edgeless gatehouse called “Da Monsta,” as well as a brick guesthouse with no windows, an underground art gallery styled after Agamemnon’s tomb, and a few other galleries and smaller buildings on the 47-acre property.

Tours of the entire property are available and begin from the visitor’s center in downtown New Canaan. Those interested in Johnson’s influences should check out the similarly-designed Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois, that is also constructed of mostly steel and glass.

Know Before You Go

All tours begin from the visitor's center in downtown New Canaan, Connecticut.

Cost is $20 per person, call ahead as the house is only visible by reserving a tour.

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