Connecticut home of Crystal Cathedral designer to open for tours

New Canaan, Conn.
The Glass House in New Canaan, Conn., designed by architect Philip Johnson, who also designed the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, will open for tours beginning May 1.
(Robin Hill )

The New Canaan, Conn., home of the architect who designed the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove will open for tours next month, but best to keep an eye on his Glass House because it could disappear.

The Glass House, designed by noted architect Philip Johnson, was true to its name but for one thing: It had  a brick-enclosed bathroom. Johnson’s house was completed in 1949, and the noted architect used his Connecticut home, about 50 miles northeast of New York, as a retreat from workaday pressures.

He  designed the Crystal Cathedral in the late 1970s. It is is now owned by the Diocese of Orange and is closed for renovation for its transformation into the Christ Cathedral. It is expected to reopen in 2016.

Johnson also worked on the Seagram Building (with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) and the American Telephone and Telegraph headquarters (now the Sony building) in New York City, and the IDS Center in Minneapolis. He received the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1979. He died at his New Canaan home in 2005. He was 98.


To celebrate the 65th anniversary of the home, which uses the adjacent pond and the western Connecticut landscape as its wallpaper, Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya has developed a creation she calls the “Veil.” Using 600 jets of misting water, Nakaya will envelop the house in fog. The Glass House will appear to vanish for 10 to 15 minutes each hour, only to reappear as the misty shroud dissipates.

Beginning May 1, guests can choose from a one-hour guided tour ($30), the unlimited self-guided tour ($75), as well as other options. All tours explore the Glass House and other Johnson-designed buildings on the 49-acre property.

The 2014 season continues through Nov, 30. Tours begin at the New Canaan Visitor Center, from which visitors are driven to the Glass House.

Tickets can be purchased online or by calling (866) 811-4111.



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