22 September 2009
Modern In Town
Around here the lion's share of modern houses are on large lots -- two, three, four acres or more -- mainly because that's what the zoning is. Philip Johnson built the Glass House on a substantial amount of acreage and then added to it; my recollection is that his Boissonnas House, also in New Canaan, originally had 20 acres but that over the years the owners chopped off pieces to sell.
Modern houses tend to have a lot of glass, which tends to make privacy an issue if you live in a city or on a small lot in a village or town. A builder (David Prutting) and architect (I can't remember his name; maybe Gina can) [he's Joeb Moore – gf] in New Canaan solved that with this house by including a terrific outdoor living area, complete with kitchen, on the roof. It's about a five minute walk, at most, from the New Canaan train station and overlooks a park and the roof of the old Grand Union. We visited it in May, when it was still under construction, for the opening cocktail party of the New Canaan Modern House Day (the party reminded me in a weird way of a benefit dinner we went to in 2002 at the Jay House, in Rye, a spectacular 1830s Greek Revival that was under renovation). The asking price for this town house is $4.95 million.
Speaking of urban modern, New York Magazine has a feature on apartments designed by "starchitects" that seem to be price to sell in a recession: $14 million for a Gwathmey, $16.5 million for a Robert A.M. Stern, $11.5 million for a Richard Meier, etc. -- not exactly the efficient, forward-looking housing for the masses that the first modern and Bauhaus architects envisioned, are they? -- ta