Robert Campbell Remembers Philip Johnson and Talks About ‘The Trust’


A couple of weeks back, when February was still all new to our hearts, we reported on the Pentagram-designed booklet for Philip Johnson‘s Glass House and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Although our post was more about the mailer than the house or the Trust itself, we now turn over not only to a Pulitzer Prize winning architecture critic, but someone who spent time in the Glass House with Johnson years ago, the Boston Globe‘s Robert Campbell. In his piece “A Clear Modern Vision,” he shares not only a lot of really interesting personal stories about being there when the man himself was living within his creation, but a lot about what the Trust will be doing in making sure the historic location remains open, accessible, but most of all: protected. Here’s a bit:

The New England winter sun was low and bright. There were no leaves on the trees. In the middle of the Glass House is its one solid feature, a brick cylinder that contains the bathroom. The sun was, so to speak, hiding behind the bathroom. As we talked it stalked us, moving closer and closer to the bathroom’s edge. Then it suddenly emerged like a flashbulb going off in our faces.

“There’s that goddamned thing again,” said Johnson, and he got up and led us to another part of the room.

People who live in glass houses shouldn’t have suns, I guess. But I loved the house anyway, its monastic air of minimal elegance and the way in which, even in winter, it reached out to include the surrounding trees as its real walls.