built between 1949 and 1995 by acclaimed architect philip johnson, the glass house site in new canaan, connecticut, comprises 14 structures, including the eponymous ‘glass house’. the other 13 buildings and pavilions are dotted across a 49-acre landscaped plot that johnson called home. one of these structures is the site’s sculpture gallery, a building johnson designed after his growing collection began restricting the viewing of the canvases hanging in the adjacent painting gallery.

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all images by lane coder

 

 

completed in 1970, the sculpture gallery partially references the greek islands and their many villages marked by whitewashed stairways. philip johnson once remarked that in these villages, ‘every street is a staircase to somewhere’. the building’s plan comprises a series of squares set at 45 degree angles to each other. staircases spiral down past a series of carefully positioned bays, designed to present sculptures in a particular sequence.

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a tubular steel skeleton, from which a cold cathode lighting system is suspended, supports the building’s large aluminum and glass skylight. sunny conditions reveal a complex pattern of light and shadow within the structure, which is spread across five levels. johnson was apparently so pleased with the building that he considered moving his residence from the glass house to the sculpture gallery.

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45 years after it first opened, a complete restoration of the building began in may 2015, with construction work now complete. the project, which is the largest and most complex preservation project at the site, has been supported by Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope® — a long-standing partner of the glass house. the project architect is philip johnson alan ritchie architects, while the prime contractor is nicholson & galloway.

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the scope of the project included the removal and replacement of a complete skylight roof system of glass set in anodized aluminum extrusions; the preparation and painting of structural steel; the replacement of a cold-cathode lighting system, and refurbishment of electric heat units. further work included sub-grade waterproofing, and inspection and museum-quality painting of interior and exterior walls of the brick structure. the building, complete with its returned sculpture, will re-open as a gallery in the spring of 2017.

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