In the New York City area, Modernist architect Philip Johnson is known for designing the former Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building, the New York State Pavilion for the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and the Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. The New York Times Style Magazine recently revealed the interior of a little-known Johnson creation in Manhattan: a two-story guesthouse for Blanchette Ferry Hooker Rockefeller, the wife of John D. Rockefeller III, on 50th Street in Turtle Bay.
Completed in 1950, the Rockefeller Guest House is one of Johnson’s earlier commissions. In fact, he did not have his architecture license until afterwards, in the middle of the decade. The guest house, Johnson’s only private residential building in New York City, was used primarily as a gallery, described by the Sadie Stein in the Times as “a mini testing ground for several cornerstones of MoMA’s holdings,” as Blanchette was president of the museum twice. The Guest House, the Times continues, “would come to function as an extension of MoMA, a space to woo potential donors, to entertain artists and to display Modernism in its purest and most impressive form.”
The video conveys the sense of peace and quiet offered by this house in bustling Midtown, combining Johnson’s interest in allowing nature to seep into his designed spaces with an early experimentation into the creation of visual flow between demarcated spaces. This concept would later achieve its ultimate manifestation in the Glass House, which has no walls, but manages to have a sense of separate spatial areas, which he called “rooms.”