Modernist Architecture

The architect Phillip Johnson was an early advocate of the modern architecture movement in the United States of America. My favourite work of Johnson is his Glass House; generally considered to be one of the finest residential modernist structures.

My fondness of this building shouldn’t be surprising as it was inspired by one of my favourite buildings – Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. The similarities are evident; however, Johnson’s departure is in the dark steel work, the closeness to the ground and the use of warm brickwork for the flooring and cylinder insertion.

Johnson described how the Farnsworth House influenced his work. He stated that many of the details were an adaption of the Farnsworth House; in particular the corner treatment and the relationship between the columns and the window frames.

Rather than floating above the ground like the Farnsworth House the Glass House appears to grow out of the ground with the well manicured lawns meeting the edges of the building. The floors of the glass house are brick; which brings warmth to the project.

Another strong contrast to the Farnsworth house is the use of a charcoal finish to the steel; whilst Mies used white. Where Mies project is sleek and brittle Johnson’s project is calm and ordered with its dark colours and closeness to the earth.