written by:
August 13, 2012

For our latest installment of Three Buildings, we turned to Danish designer Søren Rose. His picks for this trio of inspiring buildings mines the great modernist canon while also turning up a pair of rather unexpected buildings. Read on for a proper lesson in architectural history.

Philip Johnson's Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. Photo courtesy of the National Trust.

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The Rudolph Tengers Museum houses a collection of the sculptor's work in a building he designed.

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Le Corbusier's Villa Le Lac, a small house he did for his parents on Lake Geneva. Photo by Soren Rose.

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Three Buildings glasshouse1

Philip Johnson's Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. Photo courtesy of the National Trust.

The Glass House
by Philip Johnson

"Among my favorite architects is Philip Johnson, an associate of Mies van der Rohe in the 1950s. Johnson worked with the modern master on the design of the Seagram Building and it's famed Four Seasons Restaurant. Philip Johnson always inspired me in the way that, architecture aside, he managed to keep a relationship with MoMA throughout his life as a curator. He donated more than 2,000 works of art to the museum including pieces by Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg. Part of my Scandinavian upbringing as a minimalist makes me say that Johnson's private residence, the Glass House, is his most notable work."

"A 47-acre property in New Canaan, Connecticut, the Glass house is best understood as a pavilion for viewing the surrounding landscape. It's invisible from the road due to its thin structural beams, and built entirely in glass. Each of the four exterior walls has a door that opens into the surrounding landscape. Mies van der Rohe designed the famous Glass House Daybed specifically for Johnson's house. Philip Johnson lived in the house from 1949 until his death in 2005. It's open to the public today and well worth a visit."

Three Buildings Rudolph

The Rudolph Tengers Museum houses a collection of the sculptor's work in a building he designed.

Rudolph Tegners Museum
by Rudolph Tegners

"The Rudolph Tegners Museum is an hour north of Copenhagen. It's a fabulous space and the surroundings are like entering a fairy tale. When you drive into the property of this wonderful little museum dedicated to showing the works of sculptor and artist Rudolph Tegners, you are surrounded by hills of heather, camel grass, and mysterious trees—the backdrop is very beautiful, a typical Danish landscape with fields of corn and flowers. The Museum was built by Rudolph back in 1938. He was responsible for both the functionality and the aesthetics of the building. The museum is one of the early Danish buildings made largely from concrete. The main structure has 36-foot-tall ceilings and is lit from windows in the ceiling so visitors are not distracted by the immaculate nature surrounding this magical place. As a last note: Rudolph Tegners is actually buried in an oak coffin beneath the floor of the central hall. His wife Elna Tegners was burned after her death and the urn is hidden inside the Apollo statue above Rudolph's grave."

Three Buildings Le Lac

Le Corbusier's Villa Le Lac, a small house he did for his parents on Lake Geneva. Photo by Soren Rose.

Villa le Lac
by Le Corbusier

"At the beginning of the year my studio was commissioned to design a house at Lake Geneva in Switzerland. I have been visiting many houses built along the lake for inspiration and to learn more about the area's tradition and history. This spring I drove down to Corseaux, in Vevey, to see a very small house: Le Corbusier's Petite Maison Coseaux (also called Villa le Lac). The house was built for his mother back in 1924. I had looked at the website, which stated it would be open for visitors,but when I arrived it was closed for construction. Just before getting into the car and returning to the hotel, I changed my mind and jumped the garden wall. Moments later I found myself all alone in this architectural curiosity."

"The house is 64 square meters; it's a simple rectangular concrete structure with a garden terrace, open floor plan, and large windows. But even though it's small, Le Corbusier managed to fit a living room, a bedroom, powder room, small salon that could be converted to a bedroom for guests, vestibule, bathroom, kitchen, and closet into this house. It's the first example of modern architecture by Le Corbusier in Switzerland. The stroke of genius was a wall that he built in front of the lake obstructing the view. He designed a window in the wall, with a table and two benches inside the garden, so his mother could sit and watch the lake while being protected from the sun and wind. Sitting in front of the same window, I imagined what it might have been like, being here almost 90 years ago the day they finished construction. Did mother and son have a cup of the here? Feeling slightly guilty that I was trespassing—but still with a grin on my face—I sat there for a couple of hours in my own architecture history lesson surrounded by the Rhone valley and the Alps in Corseaux and the gorgeous view of the lake. I truly had a magic moment."

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