Notes from the Glass House – yours and theirs

The Glass House sketchbook features quotes by Philip Johnson, blank pages for your own notes or sketching, and sketches inspired by the site by 29 architects, designers, and artists including: Yves Béhar, Michael Bell, Deborah Berke, James Biber, Mattia Bonetti, Constantin Boym, Seymour Chwast, Stephen Doyle, Steven Ehrlich, Rafael Esquer, Alexander Gorlin, Steven Holl, Christopher Huan, Rainer Judd, Maira Kalman, Chip Kidd, LOT-EK | Giuseppe Lignano and Ada Tolla, Mark McInturff, Richard Meier, Toshiko Mori, Michael Morris, Fred Noyes, Gaetano Pesce, Ron Radziner, Jens Risom, Yoshiko Sato, Denyse Schmidt, Alison Spear and Joseph Tanney.

All proceeds from this sketchbook will support the Glass House.

The custom edition Glass House Moleskine® sketchbook costs $25.95 can be purchased at the Glass House gift shop, or by calling 203.594.9884 - x 1. – GF

Alice Ball

If you're interested in the fate of Philip Johnson's Alice Ball house, in New Canaan, you no doubt have already seen the Times story from Sunday and the post in (which linked to us; the Times, of course, did not, although the Times reporter spent a lot of time clicking around on our blog about two weeks ago while preparing the story).

The Times story is a rehash, although it does manage to get one important fact wrong: it cites as an example of modern houses commanding steep prices the sale of Neutra's Kaufmann house not long ago. But I read in the Times the other day that the sale did not go through; the anonymous buyer has either backed out or couldn't come up with the money or something, it wasn't clear (in fairness to the Times reporter, the Alice Ball house story was in a section that goes to press earlier in the week, and the news about the Kaufmann house sale might have come out afterwards). isn't quite as kind to Cristina Ross, the owner of the house, as we have been, and I find the snarky style of the writing to be off-putting, but here's the post (which, by the way, uses our photo, which is fine -- we put it on Flickr and we ourselves rarely feel any compunction against using other people's photos). -- ta

Chilean Sampler

Perhaps the thing most important to me about any house or building, whether modern or ancient, is how it interacts with its immediate environment. I grew up in a neat little modern house that I was so proud of for its integration into the landscape: its grey cypress wood exterior and single story low profile gave it the appearance of being just another outcrop of the ever-present rockledge Pound Ridge is notorious for. It just makes sense that a dwelling respects the features of the land it occupies as opposed to appearing uncomfortably perched as if its placement is only temporary.

I keep an eye open for interesting architecture out of South America, (probably in a subconscious effort to offset my usual Eurocentric-ness), and this morning I bumped into the terrific Chilean architectural photography site called BARQO – banco fotográfico de arquitectura chilena. Poking around through the Vivienda Unifamiliar sections, not only did I long to understand Spanish, but I began to think about the relationship between exceptional places the exceptional architecture that is created in those places. Some houses are designed to blend in either by color, by texture or by shape - or a combination of those qualities. Some, however, are successful because they celebrate the physical environment they exist in by being radically different. Here are some examples from Barqo (bARCo as it appears on the site), which I found through Judit Bellostes, which is also very worthy viewing. – GF

1. Casa Las Palmas · Sebastián Irarrázaval, Guillermo Acuña
FOTÓGRAFO Guy Wenborne

2. Chalet C-6 · dRN arquitectos

3. Casa Muelle · Jonas Retamal
FOTÓGRAFO Stefan Bartulin Cortese

4. Casa Dos Robles · Aguilo Pedraza

5. Asadera y Mirador · Carolina Contreras y Tomás Cortese
FOTÓGRAFO Alvaro Benitez

6. Casa Omnibus · Gubbins Arquitectos
FOTÓGRAFO Marcos Mendizabal / Pedro Gubbins

Next House: Prefab that fits all

I really like some of the things I see on Next House's site. I even like the site itself, which is really saying something; I find so many architects’ sites so fussy and difficult to navigate, which is odd given the inevitable descriptors in their “about us” statements: elegant, functional, minimal, clean, etc. I love that the flat-pack houses come in sizes XS, S, M, and L. – GF
(via Below the Clouds)

Neutra's Kaufman House Sells for $16.8 Million

In the leafy suburbs of Connecticut, Stone's Celanese House sold for $4.1 million. But in the California desert, Neutra's Kaufman House sold for much more -- $16.8 million. Christie's sold it, along with a trove of paintings. The Times reports:

Considering that a painting went for more than $50 million, the Kaufmann House, in Palm Springs, Calif., a 1946 Modernist landmark in glass, steel and stone designed by the architect Richard Neutra, was a veritable bargain. It was being sold by Brent Harris, an investment manager, and Beth Edwards Harris, an architectural historian, who are divorcing.

The home, which was originally commissioned as a desert retreat by Edgar J. Kaufmann, the Pittsburgh department store magnate for whom Frank Lloyd Wright built Fallingwater in Pennsylvania a decade earlier, met its low $15 million estimate (or with commission, $16.8 million).

After the sale, Marc Porter, Christie’s president in America, said the buyer, whom he declined to name, exercised an option to purchase an orchard adjacent to the property for an additional $2.1 million that includes three cacti that were a present from Frank Lloyd Wright to Mr. Kaufmann on his first visit to the home.

It isn’t the first time a Modernist house has been sold at auction. Over the years both Christie’s and Sotheby’s have offered such architecturally important dwellings as Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and a 1950 town house on East 52nd Street that Philip Johnson designed as a guest house for Blanchette Rockefeller, the wife of John D. Rockefeller III.

I borrowed the photo, above, from Flickr. -- ta

It's a Deal for Edward Durell Stone's Celanese House

Really good news for modern house aficionados out of New Canaan today: The deal for the Celanese House closed. Joel Disend, an executive at New York Life, bought it for $4.1 million, half-a-million below its last listing price.

I say good news because we can only assume that Disend bought the house, which Edward Durell Stone designed, to live in rather than to tear down. It's an oddity outside, no doubt, but stunning inside. We loved it when we saw it, unfurnished, during New Canaan's Modern House Day in November. Except for its price, which was almost $4 million above what we could afford, and its location, on Oenoke Ridge Road, which is too main street for us, we might have bought it ourselves.

But its good news too for Jackie and Bruce Capra, New Canaan residents who bought the house because they didn't want to see it torn down (they had seen that happen too many times to modern houses in New Canaan), invested in the renovation and now, presumably, will get a payoff for their effort (Fred Bernstein wrote a good account of the Capras in the Times, here).

There's also lots of background information on this blog and on my other blog, Sphere. -- ta