Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Student Group Tour magazine will continue to provide ideas for planning educational travel. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information. 

Situated in the midst of a sprawling planned landscape, the Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, is one of several unique structures designed by American modernist architect Philip Johnson.

“The Glass House is a departure from what many students consider to be a home,” said Kate Lichota, manager of education and interpretation at The Glass House. “The design is strikingly modern even though the house itself is over 70 years old.”

The Glass House is an example of the early use of industrial materials in home design and highlights the modernist style. At 56 feet long, the building includes a kitchen, dining and entertaining space, and sleeping area all in one glass-enclosed room.

Docent led tours of 10–20 participants provide students ample opportunities to pose questions to their guide.

“Many questions are raised about if Johnson actually lived in the house (yes, he did), and where did he cook, eat and sleep,” Lichota said.

Guides speak to a number of topics about the history, construction, design and use of The Glass House and the other structures on the property. Buildings like the windowless Brickhouse; the Painting Gallery built into a grassy knoll; or the Da Monsta Gate House, which has no right angles, inspire inquiry about architecture and design.

Philip Johnson is generally included on the syllabus of most architecture or contemporary design history classes.

“Experiencing The Glass House in person is a vastly different experience than just viewing it in photographs.” Lichota said. “Seeing the home placed within the curated landscape is deeply instructive to how important the placement of a building within its landscape can be.”

High school groups treat the house in the context of their curriculum, like the social history of the 20th century. Students can take away information about a variety of themes — architecture, design, landscape design, contemporary art, social history and LGBTQ history.”

The Glass House is open seasonally.

For more information on The Glass House call 203-594-9884 or go theglasshouse.org.

Article by Michael McLaughlin