A Secret, Little Glass Home in the Heart of New York

On a quiet block in the East 50s in Manhattan, set between a music school and a prewar apartment building a coin’s toss from the noise of subway construction, sits a discreet, Modernist marvel: Philip Johnson’s 1950 Rockefeller Guest House. One of several private New York residences the architect designed, the house is a designated historic — as well as architectural — landmark. Yet one would be forgiven for overlooking the unadorned brick-and-glass facade; the house doesn’t give up its secrets easily.

New York is not a city that always protects, much less values, its architectural heritage. For evidence, one must only head west on 52nd Street, to the recently shuttered Four Seasons restaurant, designed by Johnson with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, his “guru.” Yet the Rockefeller Guest House stands virtually unchanged, the best preserved — and yet least known — of Johnson’s New York works. Inside, the brick walls could recite a firsthand history of the 20th century’s art world.

The two-story building, one of Johnson’s earliest New York commissions, was built for Blanchette Ferry Hooker Rockefeller between 1949 and 1950, and was intended as both a showcase for her modern art collection and a space for entertaining. The neighborhood of Turtle Bay — described as the East Side’s “riverside back yard” by the 1939 Work Projects Administration Guide — had since the 1920s been an artistic hub of the city, combining a quantity of affordable housing, dedicated studios and elegant enclaves like Beekman Place. Peggy Guggenheim and Max Ernst lived nearby; in the 1960s, the neighborhood played host to Andy Warhol’s Factory. Here was a natural site for the collaboration between the fashionable architect and his patron. […]

Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today.
Aline Chahine
Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today. Highlights Aline founded Architecture Lab in 2008 Lead editor of dan | dailyarchnews since 2019 Founded and Creative Director of DesignRaid Licensed architect with creative sales and marketing experience Experience As full-fledged architect, Aline's background involved a great deal of research that lead to the creation of Architecture Lab as an online database of exemplary design. Her experience snowballed into founding two architecture platforms, Architecture Lab and DesignRaid. Education Aline received USEK’s Master of Architecture in 2004 and BA in English from the University of Toronto
TITLE | Founder of Architecture Lab
About Architecture Lab Architecture Lab is a MKR.S Media brand, a website devoted to extraordinary design and aesthetics aiming to promote exceptional aesthetic values and sustainable design in all it's shapes and sizes. Learn more about us and our editorial process and feel free to contact us if you would like to see something in particular on the website, our certified experts will get back to you with the most trustworthy advice as soon as possible. Read all articles by Aline | Follow her on LinkedIn

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