Innovation & Design

Philip Johnson's Finale Under Way


Less than a year after the death of Modernist standard-bearer Philip Johnson, his final residential project is now rising in New York City. Ground was broken in August for the 12-story Urban Glass House, a condominium project designed by Johnson and his partner Alan Ritchie of Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects, along with Annabelle Selldorf of Selldorf Architects, and SLCE Architects. The project is located at 330 Spring Street in Lower Manhattan, just a block away from the Hudson River.

The project is based on Johnson's 1949 Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. The urban version will be grander and more sophisticated, featuring what the designers have dubbed "Modernist luxury." That luxury will be packaged and sold as 40 light, airy, and spacious condos, ranging from 1,400 to 4,300 square feet.

As with the original Glass House, Johnson and Ritchie's building will be a simple and elegant cultivation of glass and steel in a mostly boxy form, updated to fit the demands of well-heeled urbanites. Selldorf, who took over the interior design from Johnson last year, heeded his philosophy of simple and smooth interiors. She says she has followed the Glass House's "clarity of space" and wide-open rooms with "plentiful light and air."

"But," Selldorf explains, "whereas modernism has been criticized for its rigidity, we've created homes where we've anticipated the needs of the residents and made comfort a priority." Floors will be made from French white oak in herringbone patterns, as in the original Glass House. Some surfaces will feature black Absolut granite or green Indian limestone, a material Selldorf describes as "beautiful, uncommon and tactile."

The project is slated for completion in late-summer 2006, in time to mark the 100th anniversary of Johnson's birth date.


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