The Glass House Blog

One of the most important homes in America needs you

Dear Friends of the Glass House,

The Glass HouseThe Glass House is approaching the end of an exciting season with the introduction of many new programs, part of a strategic initiative I like to refer to as Glass House 2.0. The Glass House of Philip Johnson and David Whitney was known as “the most sustained cultural salon the United States has ever seen.” Glass House 1.0 represented the first five years of the house’s public life as a National Trust Historic Site and house museum. Glass House 2.0 aims to recapture the site’s earlier legacy as a unique cultural center, a laboratory for the presentation of new works and ideas.

This year we launched an exhibitions program with two shows: Frank Stella: Scarlatti Kirkpatrick and Night (1947-2015) and welcomed over 13,000 visitors to the site. We also inaugurated a fresh flowers program, bringing new life to the interior of the Glass House. In the coming seasons, we will develop more ambitious projects, and are currently exploring new programs and activities that will strengthen the liveliness and relevance of our special site. Educational programs continue to take center stage, as we host monthly Conversations in Context, Glass House Conversations, and think tanks both on site and in the field, including our first participation in this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale. In time, we hope to add site-specific initiatives including residency programs, performances, and scholarly and community gatherings.

The Brick HouseIn addition to urgent needs, we are still working to raise funds to restore the Brick House, which has remained closed for the last five years, as well as make necessary repairs to the Sculpture Gallery roof. The Glass House is a preservation-based organization, and its 14 buildings, world-class art collection and 49-acre landscape demand ongoing maintenance.

To maintain our role as an important cultural asset and site of international significance, we need your support. Please help with a generous year-end donation. We welcome your support at every level.

Donate Now

If you would like to speak to a Glass House representative about your donation, please contact Scott Drevnig, Director of Development, at 203-594-9884 x33335, or

James WellingAs a thank you for a donation of $2,500 or more, we are pleased to send you a signed copy of the James Welling: Glass House hardcover book. This book features mesmerizing images by one of the world’s eminent photographers.

We have an exciting new year in the works, filled with a vibrant and diverse range of exhibitions and programming. Thank you in advance for your care and support of the Glass House. We have a special place and an incredible team serving as its stewards.

Warm regards,


Henry Urbach




Filed under: Conversations in Context, Educational Partnership, Exhibitions, Glass House Conversations, Message from the Director, Preservation in Action, Tours + Programs, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Message from the Director

The Glass House after Hurricane Sandy

Dear Friends of the Glass House,

We would like to express the sincere hope that you are all safe and sound in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Our thoughts are with our fellow Northeasterners whose lives and livelihoods have been so severely impacted by the storm’s devastating effects.

We know how much you care for the site and we wanted to update you on what is happening today. As we write, The Glass House is still without power. Our 49 acres have seen over twenty trees go down as a result of the storm with debris throughout the site. We are continuing to assess damage and hope for the restoration of power which is needed to operate lighting, gate, building entry, plumbing, and mechanical systems.

We are fortunate that our fourteen structures and outdoor sculptures are all safe, but the storm did make it clear just how much work we have to do to ensure the long-term survival of our built and natural environments. Several small leaks in the Painting Gallery and Sculpture Gallery visible before the storm are now moving to top of our to-do list, joining the Brick House as critical priorities for our site’s preservation.

As we work to get back to normal as soon as possible, we will continue to count on our dedicated friends and supporters. If you are able and wish to support our efforts, kindly make a contribution on our web site. Thank you for helping us stand up to these challenges and care for The Glass House.

View photos of the Glass House and the situation today and stay informed through our websiteFacebook and Twitter. We look forward to welcoming you to the property soon.


Henry Urbach, Director

To learn more about The Glass House visit 

Filed under: Message from the Director, , ,

Message from the Director

I am pleased to announce that The Glass House will have a new director, Henry Urbach.

Henry UrbachHenry most recently served as Curator of Architecture and Design at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), where his exhibitions were widely lauded. Mr. Urbach left SFMOMA in May 2011 to pursue independent writing and curatorial work, including research toward a project about the Glass House compound as a laboratory for curatorial experimentation.

Henry began his career as a project management associate at Carnegie Hall, during the period of its restoration and renovation, foreshadowing a career dedicated to producing spaces that support creative labor and its power to inspire. He holds a degree in History and Theory of Architecture from Princeton University (AB 1984 Magna Cum Laude), a Master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (M.Arch. 1990), and a Master of Arts in History and Theory of Architecture from Princeton University.

He has taught and published extensively in the fields of architecture, art, design, and culture with writings that encompass theory, criticism, and journalism; and he has taught at numerous schools of architecture.

In 1997, Henry launched Henry Urbach Architecture, a unique New York-based gallery committed to joining the worlds of contemporary art and experimental architecture. He ran this business for nearly ten years, achieving international recognition.

I met Henry last spring and was struck by his energy and enthusiasm for the site.  He seems to me ideal to lead the dedicated Glass House team into even more innovative and exciting programmatic terrain, and to push restoration programs on track.  I congratulate Henry, and also Estevan Rael-Gálvez, Vice President of Sites at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, on his astute choice.

Henry’s tenure will commence on April 2.

Rena Zurofsky

Interim Director, Philip Johnson Glass House

Filed under: Message from the Director, , , , , , , ,

Message From The Director

January 9, 2011

Happy New Year!

I write as air finally chills with winter, although the ground remains resolutely brown, denying the season its romance.  The Glass House site is closed to the public until May 2nd.  However, the staff is hard at work with many off-season projects.

Here is a look at how we spend the winter: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Conversations in Context, Dine with Design, Glass House Conversations, Message from the Director, Preservation in Action, Tours + Programs, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Support The Glass House

Dear Friends,

Architecture, Art and Audience are our three motivations. The Philip Johnson Glass House is simply one of the most significant modernist sites in America, the private home that inspired a revolution in mid-20th century living that extends to the present day. The site’s remaining art collection provides a fascinating insight to the curatorial talents of Johnson’s partner, David Whitney. Between them, Johnson and Whitney significantly shaped the exhibitions and collections of the Museum of Modern Art’s formative decades. In opening the site for tours and in creating deeper and richer web content, our goal is to educate and inspire you, our local, national, and international audience.To accomplish our goals of preserving, restoring and performing original research, we count on the generosity of our supporters. We count on you!This year, more than ever, we need your help to balance our budget: Our endowment covers only 40% of our operations, preservation and programs.

Filed under: Educational Partnership, From the Collection, Glass House Conversations, Glass House Design Store, Glass House Films, Message from the Director, Preservation in Action, Tours + Programs, , , ,

NEW: Message From The Director

November 16, 2011

As our tour season winds down to its November 30 close, we keep active. In the past few weeks we’ve announced some wonderful collaborations which will stretch through the holidays, and some of them beyond.

For any of you in the greater metropolitan area, please don’t miss the exquisite exhibition of James Welling’s Glass House photographs on view in the lobby of the Four Seasons Restaurant through January 2, 2012. A collaboration between The Glass House, David Zwirner, and the Four Seasons, all photographs are offered for sale, with a large percentage benefiting The Glass House.

James Welling Photograph

Entering the lobby is free, so don’t hesitate to see this beautiful show.  Plus, a short turn to the ladies’ room will give you an intimate view of the same Fortuny fabric that Philip Johnson used in the Brick House, currently closed pending restoration. Johnson often used the same materials on his projects (he designed the Four Seasons restaurant, and partnered with Mies van Der Rohe on the entire Seagram’s building), the Library/Study has carpeting originally used at the Four Seasons as well. The succulent garden, which can be viewed during our landscape tours, is built on a foundation of the same pink granite used for the AT&T, now Sony building. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Message from the Director, Preservation in Action, Tours + Programs, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Living in the Glass House

Support The Glass House

Dear Friends,

It has been an incredibly fast-paced year for the Philip Johnson Glass House. We celebrated our Fifth Season by developing new ways of welcoming the public to our site in person, online, through educational programs and events, and at art and design fairs around the world.

We’ve collaborated with significant architects (Charles Renfro, Tod Williams + Billie Tsien, Gregg Pasquarelli), artists (James Welling, Todd Eberle, David Salle) and writers (Paul Goldberger, Karen Stein, Philip Nobel), great chefs (Michele Richard, Brian Lewis, Bill Taibe, Lee Chizmar, Derek Wagner), as well as talented local high school students and their inspired teachers.

This year, more than ever, we need your support to help balance our budget. Our endowment covers only 40% of our operations, preservation and programs but we count on the generosity of our supporters to complete the picture.

Here’s why we hope you will  Donate Now!

New Tours

Focus: Concentrate on art, landscape and /or architecture -you decide!

Plein Air Afternoons: Unguided access for creative inspiration.
Pure Glass: Short, sweet and the lucid heart of the property

Cultural Experiences in Person
and Online

Private made Public: Salons hosted by cultural leaders are now available to all, either through an evening on site or connecting through an online film of each program.

Preservation and Conservation: The first site-specific work of Donald Judd, Untitled, 1971 was cleaned and conserved this season. Explore documentation of the it’s history, from archival images of the initial installation, to video of the conservation team at work and an online dialogue led by Flavin Judd.

Important Research: A seminal biography of David Whitney, Philip Johnson’s private but influential partner, is essential reading for understanding of the legacy of Johnson, Whitney and the Glass House.


Generations Together: This fall marks our fourth year working with the New Canaan High School students and their teachers. This year’s projects included landscape photography and oral history films featuring local notable architects John Black Lee, John Johansen, and Fred Noyes speaking about his father, Eliot Noyes. These projects bring generations together to explore the essential history of New Canaan and Modernism. All of the student-produced oral histories and many of their photographs 
can now be enjoyed on our website.

47 Acres and 14 Structures

Storms: Besides the investments we choose to make, because we believe in them and their importance, there are the investments we need to make. Hurricane Irene, seasonal flooding and heavy unexpected snowstorms hammered the Glass House just as it did our neighbors. Repairs and canceled tours due to power outages and clean-ups resulted in significant lost revenues that severely affected our bottom line.

To maintain our role as an important community asset and site of international significance, we need your support. Please help us balance the Glass House budget with a generous year-end donation.

We welcome your support at every level.  Donate Now!

We hope to see you at the Glass House soon and often, on a tour through November, or early next season.


Rena Zurofsky
Interim Executive Director

The Library of Philip JohnsonAs an additional thank you for your donation of $1,000 or more, we will send you a copy of the just published, limited edition Library of Philip Johnson. Written by Birch Cooper and Jordan Hruska, this beautifully illustrated book examines 100 titles from the architect’s Library/Study located at the Glass House site and features an introduction by Architect Robert A. M. Stern, textual analyses and 350 photographs.

Donors of $5,000 or more will also receive invitations to an exclusive event at The Glass House during the 2012 season.

Facebook Single IconTwitter Single Icon  AIA

Filed under: Conversations in Context, Dine with Design, Educational Partnership, From the Collection, Glass House Conversations, Glass House Design Store, Glass House Films, Message from the Director, Preservation in Action, Tours + Programs, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Message from the Director: Fall Foliage + New Tours at the Glass House

Sometimes, after a long drive on the Merritt Parkway (as beautiful as it is), I find myself cross and edgy from all the traffic.  I wonder why I do it.  But after only ten minutes walking on the Glass House grounds, I am once again calm and centered, glad to have arrived again at this beautiful location where the buzz of insects is more significant than any passing vehicles.  Lately, of course, the sounds of buzz saws have been prominent as New Canaan finishes the clean up after Hurricane Irene.  Although some neighbors were without power for up to a week due to the many downed trees and wires, our property regained power after four days.  We had a few trees damaged, but happily the Johnson/Whitney landscape plans and the constant vigilance of our groundskeeper ensured that no trees hit structures.  We were very lucky, but between damage and a week of cancelled tours, our annual breakeven budget took a hit of over $20,000 which we hope our generous admirers will help us regain.

September disappeared in a blur, although it was notable in the introduction of our new Pure Glass House tour, which is proving to be very popular.  Other highlights included a crush of Conversations in Context programs, including the always captivating Paul Goldberger, Tod Williams + Billie Tsien, and finally Gregg Paquarelli, Philip Nobel + Karen Stein.  Actually, they were all captivating!  Video from Paul Goldberger’s conversation has just been completed, with more coming soon.

October’s Conversations will be hosted by artist David Salle and architect Charles Renfro, beautifully reflecting the lives of David Whitney, curator and collector and Philip Johnson, architect and arbiter.  Another of our Plein Air Afternoons will be offered this month as well, intended for artists, photographers, writers or others who crave some extra unstructured time on the property.

For all you leaf peepers, there are still some weekday tour tickets available in October.   Personally I can hardly wait until the leaves begin to turn, changing this estate from a green oasis into a hot orange mecca—and by the way, changing Philip Johnson’s “expensive wallpaper” at the same time!

Rena Zurofsky

Interim Director, Philip Johnson Glass House

Filed under: Conversations in Context, Message from the Director, , , , , , , ,

Glass House Message From the Director, August 2011

At 7:30 pm in mid-August, the sun has long since raked the exquisite larch at the top of the hill on the south side of Popestead (The brown house near the road, which came with the land when Johnson purchased it.  The name refers to Johnson’s aunt, the architect Theodate Pope).  It will be two months before a similar angled light turns those soon drying needles into fireworks (the filament kind), but after a big storm there is that something in the air that signals autumn.   I’m thinking about it and so are the trees.  I’ve already seen some browning at the edges of the deciduous leaves, although the site’s many evergreens remain nonchalant.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Message from the Director

July / August Message From the Director, Wildlife at the Glass House + New Programs!

July 29, 2011

I fear I caused some serious upset on my early morning walk at the Glass House today.

First, the turkeys were quite put out, even though they were mostly on the shortcut and I was on the main path.  We had a bit of a stand-off as they considered my level of threat.  I finally got a low code, so they just lumbered off the gravel to the grass, even though I wasn’t going that way. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Conversations in Context, Message from the Director, Tours + Programs, , , , , , , ,


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