1956

Philip Johnson

William A. M. Burden House     Mt. Kisco   New York

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houses under a common roof   3250

Two of Philip's most provocative projects of the 1950s were never built. The William A. M. Burden House of 1955, more fully defined in drawings than the Walter Chrysler House of 1952, may stand for both of them. It consisted of three separate one-story cubic pavilions mounted on a high podium and sheltered by a hugh column-free steel and glass canopy-frame open on all four sides. The pavilions accommodated differing functions: the living-dining space; another, the family bedrooms; a third, a guest bedroom suite. Breuer's binuclear houses may have been an antecedent, but no Breueresque connections were used. There is, in fact, more evidence of the two architects Philip mentioned in is remarks about the Wiley House. The podium surely represented Mies, as did the great canopy, its roof supported on long trusses in emulation of Mies;s stupendous Convention Hall project of 1953-54, meant for Chicago. The pavilions themselves were further suggestive of Mies in their rectilineally abstract elevations, but as a group of separate units, they harked back to Emil Kaufmann's reading of Ledoux's "Autonomen-Architektur." Trees and sculpture pools would have shared the podium with the pavilions, the whole ensemble a massive study of parts within parts within a whole--Philip's tendency to compartmentalize convincingly united Mies's drive for simplicity. If completed, the Burden House would have been an unsurpassed fulfillment of its architect's dream to achieve monumentality in the modernist idiom.
--Franz Schulze, Philip Johnson: Life and Work (1994), pp214-16.

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