Philip Johnson and David Whitney viewed their house as a conversation–starter and salon for architects and artists. Two programs began this summer that build on Johnson’s view of the Glass House as “not so much a home as a clearing house of ideas.” Running through Nov. 17, Conversations in Context take place every Thursday evening from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. These intimate events are led each week by a noted design professional who shares insights and stories while leading a tour of the house and grounds, then initiates a discussion with attendees at the reception that follows. Upcoming hosts include architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, Charles Renfro, and Gregg Pasquarelli.
GlassHouseConversations.org takes the Johnson and Whitney legacy of instigating lively design dialogues and moves it onto a digital platform. Based on the eponymous live programs held in 2008 and 2009 at the Glass House campus, this online forum expands the exchange of ideas and opinions to include international audiences. The website is a partnership between the School of Visual Arts (SVA), the Philip Johnson Glass House, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “The challenge was twofold: first, how to engage a broader audience in the design leadership conversations that occurred at the Glass House, and then how to stay true to what Philip Johnson and David Whitney did best—always staying on the cutting edge of innovation,” says Christy MacLear, executive director for the Glass House. “SVA was the perfect partner to envision how a meaningful dialogue could occur in a digital forum, examples of which were limited to date. The students’ work is truly groundbreaking.”
Each week a new question or debate topic is posited from various leaders in design and art fields. Vetted and registered members of the forum have five days to join the conversation or respond to the question. Discussions are archived and all comments are attributed to a specific person, whose credentials are listed. Conversation hosts include John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design; Kazys Varnelis, director of the Network Architecture Lab at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation; Marc Kushner, CEO of Architizer.com; Clifford Pearson, senior editor at Architectural Record; and John Lilly, former CEO of the Mozilla Corp.