The Glass House artistically, of course, is a descendant of Mies van der Rohe. He said you could do a glass house one day in the ’40s and I said you couldn’t because a glass house means that if you have a wall that sticks into the glass and then you’ve destroyed the glass-ness of the glass house. Therefore, you couldn’t have any walls. Well, in discussion, it comes out that any walls you want could be a separate little pavilion in the house, which in the case of my bathroom is the case. But the whole arrangement inside the house, the planning of the house, was done from a simple, Mies-ian arrangement of planes and blocks. That is, the closet into the bedroom makes one plane, the kitchen makes another, both of them anchored by the circular bathroom. That gives you an anchor from which the others radiate. This is simple asymmetry, simple 1920s thinking in terms of having an architecture that is not symmetrical. Then I put the whole thing in a symmetrical cage, denying, Mies would have said, denying the whole point. But the house is not a Mies-ian house either. The symmetrical outside gave it calmness and organiz-ability of your eye that was very restful to me. Then you step inside and you get into the wild world of asymmetric planes and volumes. So I don’t know where it all came from except a great many ideas like Malevich, the Constructivists, but most especially Mies’ early designs for ideal, how you would arrange ideal spaces next to each other, sliding them, anchoring them and isolating them. So that’s what I’ve done here and you will notice that you can dominate the whole place from that room, that you can sit down on the central area, which is a rug, which is also in front of the fire, which is the aim of any house. When you enter a house, you, metaphorically you sniff like a dog, and sniffing the way a dog finds his place to sit down is to go round and round until he finds the epicenter of comfort and then curls up. And you do that without knowing it yourself when you enter a house. Where can I sit down? Where can I feel that my back won’t be attacked? Where do I feel in the center of things emotionally?
That whole idea of a – well, in this case, the living room is a raft that floats in its proper position vis-à-vis the fireplace. The rug is the living room. The living room also sits on its lawn in the same way that the rug sits on the Glass House. But the Glass House is also up on a little step so that it’s sitting on a lawn, which is also delineated by a granite edging, which again anchors that thing – that object – into the landscaping. Then again the lawn sits in its own right on a platform and a background of lawn grass, which are the fields that were originally there in the 18th century.”
Interview conducted on behalf of the National Trust for Historic Preservation by Eleanor Devens, Franz Schultz, Jeffrey Shaw, and Frank Sanchis.