The Philip Johnson Glass House is the focal point of the late architect's 47-acre property in New Canaan, Connecticut. Johnson, born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1906, became a seminal figure as founding Director of the Department of Architecture at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. With his landmark 1932 exhibition, The International Style, Johnson introduced modern architecture to the American public.
Johnson left his position at MoMA to pursue a degree from Harvard's Graduate School of Design. Following his graduation in 1943, he went on to design some of America's greatest modern architectural landmarks. While the Glass House - which served as his private residence since 1949 - remains his most renowned work, he is also known for the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden at The Museum of Modern Art, New York's AT&T Building (now Sony Plaza), the Fort Worth Water Garden the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California and many others. With his job as an associate of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in the fifties, Johnson worked on the design of the Seagram Building and its acclaimed Four Seasons Restaurant.
Appropriately enough, it was at the Four Seasons that a crowd gathered on May 17, 2008, to celebrate the launch of the Glass House Moleskine Sketchbook - a collaborative project conceived to pay homage to the Glass House's remarkable role as a source of inspiration for creative figures of all types. That night, in the restaurant's magnificent Grill Room, which boasts two-story windows and French walnut-paneled walls, Yves Béhar, Chip Kidd, Rainer Judd, Steven Doyle, and Fred Noyes, among others, all raised a glass with Moleskine America Inc. President Marco Beghin and Glass House Executive Director Christy MacLear to toast creativity and inspiration.
The sketchbook features 29 in-situ sketches by various architects, designers and artists who visited the New Canaan property, as well as relevant quotes by Philip Johnson. Contributors to the Glass House Moleskine Sketchbook include Yves Béhar, Michael Bell, Deborah Berke, James Biber, Mattia Bonetti, Constantin Boym, Seymour Chwast, Stephen Doyle, Steven Ehrlich, Rafael Esquer, Alexander Gorlin, Steven Holl, Christopher Huan, Rainer Judd, Maira Kalman, Chip Kidd, LOT-EK | Giuseppe Lignano and Ada Tolla, Mark McInturff, Richard Meier, Toshiko Mori, Michael Morris, Fred Noyes, Gaetano Pesce, Ron Radziner, Jens Risom, Yoshiko Sato, Denyse Schmidt, Alison Spear, and Joseph Tanney. Their sketches and Johnson's quotes are laid out interstitially throughout the blank-paged notebook. This gem of a notebook, to be sold in the Glass House Shop and online, will serve as a memento for countless visitors who will contribute to it notes and sketches of their own.
Johnson died on January 25, 2005, at age 98. In 2007, The National Trust for Historic Preservation (to whom Johnson donated the Glass House in 1986) opened the residence to the public. In order to continue to engage the creative community, the Glass House will be adding a section to their website allowing visitors to post sketches inspired by their exploration of what Johnson called his "fifty-year diary."