Brick House, 1949
The Glass House and the Brick House offer a lesson in contrasts. Designed at the same time as the Glass House (1945-48) the Brick House was completed a few months before the Glass House. A grassy court links the two buildings conceived of as a single composition. Both houses are fifty-five feet long; however, the Brick House is only half as deep at the Glass House. The Brick House contains all the support systems necessary for the function of both buildings. As opposed to the transparency of the Glass House, brick almost completely encases the house. The only windows, with the exception of the skylights, are large circular forms at the rear of the building. According to Philip Johnson, this series of round openings alludes to Filippo Brunelleschi’s fifteenth-century Duomo in Florence.
Johnson remodeled the interior of the Brick House in 1953. Originally the building contained three equally-sized guest rooms. Now a narrow skylit corridor connects a bedroom and reading room. The low, sleek, white vaults that decorate the bedroom are based on the breakfast room of the Sir John Soane House in London (completed in 1824) and are harbingers of the elements later found in Johnson’s original design of the synagogue for the Congregation Kneses Tifereth Israel in Port Chester, New York, and later still expressed at the New York State Theater (now David H. Koch Theater) at Lincoln Center, New York. The room is covered in a patterned cotton fabric designed for Fortuny. Prints by Brice Marden hang in the corridor. The reading room consists of Johnson’s personal library of philosophy, history, art history and fiction books.
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