As any modern architecture aficionado knows, the Glass House is Philip Johnson‘s best-known residence. However, it’s not his first. That title goes to the Booth House, built in 1946 (three years prior to the New Canaan beauty) in rural Bedford, New York. Like the Glass House, it boasts Johnson’s iconic floor-to-ceiling glazing, location atop a grass podium, and internal organization around a central fireplace. But unlike the Glass House, now a historic house museum, the Booth House is not protected, and moreover, its title is in litigation which means it could very well face the wrecking ball. Therefore, Archpaper tells us that the long-time owners have listed the home for $1 million in hopes that a preservation-minded buyer will step up.
Screen cap via NYT
Just down the street from the now-closed modernist treasure trove and icon that was the Four Seasons in Manhattan’s east 50s is a lesser-known architectural treasure. Philip Johnson’s 1950 Rockefeller Guest House is one of a handful of private residences the architect designed for New York City clients. The house is a designated historic and architectural landmark, but a subtle one that’s easily missed on the quiet street–as the New York Times puts it, “the house doesn’t give up its secrets easily.” Once you spot the home’s brick-and-glass facade, though, it’s hard not to be enthralled.
In a 1932 article in Modern Mechanix magazine, the design of this three-story Long Island “skyscraper house” was touted as the “latest in homes,” with an all-metal frame and glass walls. What the story doesn’t mention is that this little house in the ‘burbs was designed as a case study home by noted architects Albert Frey (who spent his early years in Le Corbusier‘s studio) and A. Lawrence Kocher. Known as the Aluminaire House, this diminutive dwelling is among the earliest examples of European-inspired modern architecture in the eastern U.S.. It was included by Philip Johnson in a MoMA exhibit in 1931 that later became the manifesto for the International Style of architecture–one of only six American buildings in the show to exemplify the style.
With the Coachella music festival in the recent spotlight, visions of Palm Springs-style desert homes have been popping up at every turn, and though this little skyscraper house couldn’t be further away geographically, its co-creator Albert Frey is known for establishing the “desert modernism” style exemplified in those iconic Palm Springs homes. And as with many ideas in the ultra-creative 1930s, the construction of this Modernist gem in 1931 was well ahead of its time.