Pavilion in the Pond, 1962
The Pavilion in the Pond is constructed of pre-fabricated concrete arches and roof sections on a poured concrete base. The outdoor pavilion is sited at the edge of a man-made pond located at the bottom of a hill below the Glass House.
Originally, the structure was part of an illuminated fountain including a water jet with a twenty foot tall fountain spray.
In the tradition of architectural follies in garden design, the Pavilion’s scaled down size plays with the viewer’s sense of perspective, making it seem further away than it actually is.
The Pavilion represents an exploration of ideas realized in Johnson’s design of the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center (1964). With the Pavilion, Johnson also applied the architectural ideas of Walter Gropius concerning prefabricated elements and used the Pavilion to investigate the Renaissance problem of how best to handle corners created from columns.
Walking tour with Philip Johnson, 1991
“I was so excited by [the arched structure in the bedroom of the Brick House] that my next building was heavily influenced by it and that’s the Pavilion in the Pond, which, as you realize, is a false scale, about half to three-quarters – it doesn’t make any difference. But a tall person cannot stand in it, an ordinary person can walk around, and a child feels like a king because if you’re very short and very small and your scale is small too, then you feel bigger. Also, it is an island because I love islands. If you step on an island you’re cut off from the world and you create your own world.
The architecture is, however, an amusing attempt by me and I didn’t care what the public thought. I wanted to solve this question of how do you turn a corner in arcuated architecture. That is, you have a bunch of arches and you turn a corner, something funny happens. So I studied that corner in the great days of the Renaissance until I came up with what I wanted to do.