The architectural legacy of the Rockefeller family in Manhattan is well-known, most obviously demonstrated in the slab-like Art Deco towers of the Rockefeller Center and the ever-expanding campus of the MoMA. But in a city that is filled with landmarks and historic buildings, it's easy for even the most remarkable projects to go unrecognized. Philip Johnson's Rockefeller Guest House in Manhattan was completed in 1950, just one year after the construction of his better known Glass House in New Canaan. The Glass House is an obvious cousin to the later guest house: both feature largely empty glass and steel boxlike forms, where structural work is exposed and celebrated.
The "architectural pilgrimage" is much more than just everyday tourism. Studying and admiring a building through text and images often creates a hunger in architects, thanks to the space between the limitations of 2D representation and the true experience of the building. Seeing a building in person that one has long loved from a distance can become something of a spiritual experience, and architects often plan vacations around favorite or important spaces. But too often, architects become transfixed by a need to visit the same dozen European cities that have come to make up the traveling architect's bucket list.
The list here shares some sites that may not have made your list just yet. Although somewhat less well known than the canonical cities, the architecture of these six cities is sure to hold its ground against the world's best. The locations here make ideal long weekend trips (depending of course on where you are traveling from), although it never hurts to have more than a few days to really become immersed in a city. We have selected a few must-see buildings from each location, but each has even more to offer than what you see here—so don't be afraid to explore!
Designed by Düsseldorf-based interior architecture practice Falkenberg Innenarchitektur, House Rheder II is designed as a serene retreat, shedding inessential features and integrating itself within the natural landscape. Framing views of the idyllic greenery of East Westfalia and gentle waters of the river Nethe, the project aims to dissolve the chaos of modern life.
"In a time of excess we have built a house that makes the essentials tangible," said the client. "It should not be big and important, but small and correct."
Artist and writer Yayoi Kusama has created an installation for the Glass House that will be on display in celebration of the 110th anniversary of Philip Johnson’s birth, as well as the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Glass House site to the public.
From September 1 through 26, Dots Obsession – Alive, Seeking for Eternal Hope will be on display, with the Glass House itself covered with polka dots. “Visitors who attend the exhibition during this time will be offered the unique experience to simultaneously see the world through the eyes of both Philip Johnson and Yayoi Kusama.”
In a three day pilot workshop, students from the Architecture and Urbanism School of Mackenzie Presbyterian University in São Paulo took part in an introduction to architecture filmmaking. Coordinated by architects Gabriel Kogan and Pedro Kok, the group spent a day at Lina Bo Bardi's Glass House in São Paulo following theoretical and technical lectures.
The idea was to recreate – now in moving images – an iconic photograph of the site by exploring issues of representation, transparency, interior/exterior, promenades, ways of living and the tectonics of this architectural masterpiece.
A Kickstarter campaign started by Birch Books Conservation owner Birch Cooper will see the library collection of Philip Johnson’s Glass House collated in a new book – The Library of Philip Johnson: Selections from the Glass House. Conceived as a resource for architects, architecture aficionados, and the general public, the book will illuminate many of the philosophies and ideologies that Johnson contributed to American modernism. Featured under the cover will be 100 selections that have been photographed and researched with a brief synopsis by the authors, in addition to the inventory list of all the books contained within the Library Studio of Philip Johnson. With an anticipated publishing date later this fall, it will be Birch Books Conservation’s first publication. Containing over 350 photographic illustrations, the 250 page volume is sure to be an excellent addition to any architecture collection.
Two of the most iconic projects from the modern movement built in the US take part in a play by June Finfer, directed by Evan Bergman. The design and building of Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and Philip Johnson’s Glass House is the background for the penetrating dramatic plot that entwines the epic conflict between artist and patron. The Glass House explores the classic struggle of ambition, love and betrayal.
Post Performance Talks by Paul Goldberger (Architectural Critic and Author), Barry Bergdoll (MoMA), Annabelle Selldorf (Architect), Christy MacLear (Executive Director of Philip Johnson Glass House), Dietrich Neumann (Architectural Educator), Whitney French (Executive Director of Farnsworth House) and Barry Wood (Architect).
Dates and more info after the break.