Article, Featured, Preservation

Replacement of the Glass House Ceiling

The Glass House continues our ongoing commitment to architecture and the arts with the replacement of the entire ceiling of the iconic structure. The Glass House, completed in 1949, is one of 14 structures on the 49-acre site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

In recent years, the ceiling of the Glass House was sagging in several areas.  In 2015, the ceiling was stabilized where the decoupling from its support was most significant while a study was performed to identify the optimal repair process.  Upon visual inspection, the system attaching the ceiling to the roof timbers was noted to be poorly constructed. Almost half of the ceiling was compromised. The 1,800 square foot plaster ceiling was applied in a three-coat plaster system on lathe with the top coat being a self-colored plaster mixed with asbestos with a texture to appear like exterior stucco. The presence of asbestos in the ceiling plaster also contributed to the need for complete repair and remediation. In addition, the system attaching the ceiling to the roof timbers was noted to be inadequate for the weight of the ceiling.  The damaged ceiling also prevented the opening of two of the four doors in the Glass House, hampering the functionality originally designed by Philip Johnson.

The Glass House ceiling replacement was partially funded through grants from the Bank of America 2016 Art Conservation Project and the Good to Great program grant from the State of Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).

“We’re proud to help preserve this culturally significant and unique piece of history so that visitors can continue to experience the Glass House firsthand,” said Bill Tommins, Southern Connecticut Market President, Bank of America. “We believe the arts matter, as they inspire, educate and enrich the communities we serve, while connecting individuals to each other on a deeper level.”

The scope of the project included the replacement of the entire plaster ceiling, metal lath, and fasteners. The ceiling replacement began on December 1, 2017 and took approximately three months to complete. The project team included EverGreene Architectural Arts, Silman Structural Engineers, Glass House staff and Ashley Wilson AIA, ASID, Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“The Good to Great grant program assists thoughtful local leaders in moving forward with projects that transform the experiences of their visitors and underscore the importance of arts and culture to the state’s future. As Christopher Hawthorne said in a 2012 essay, ‘In the late 1940s architect Philip Johnson distilled the principles of modernism into a residence of radical simplicity.’ How fortunate are we to have this iconic structure right here in Connecticut,” said Kristina Newman-Scott, Executive Director, Connecticut Office of the Arts & State Historic Preservation Officer (Director of Culture).

“The Glass House is an international icon of modern architecture where visitors come to study and celebrate architecture, art, design and landscape architecture,” said Glass House Executive Director, Gregory Sages.  “The replaced ceiling will allow visitors to experience Johnson’s intended design and functionality of the house and the objects contained inside.”

About the Bank of America Art Conservation Project: This grant is a unique program that provides grants to nonprofit museums throughout the world to conserve historically or culturally significant works of art that are in danger of deterioration. Since the program’s launch in 2010, Bank of America has provided grants for more than 120 projects in 30 countries. A selection of the historically and culturally significant works in danger of deterioration that will benefit from the 2017 Art Conservations Projects grants include The Assumption of the Virgin (1577-1579) by El Greco at The Art Institute of Chicago, Untitled (Three Dancing Figures, version C), a 1989 outdoor sculpture by Keith Haring in Des Moines, Iowa, the Farnese Sarcophagus (circa 225 C.E.), a 7,500-pound Roman Severan period piece at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, 21 works by Romare Bearden and other African American artists at The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York and Femmes à leur toilette (1937-1938) by Pablo Ruiz Picasso at Musée National Picasso in Paris.

About the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD): The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development is the state’s lead agency responsible for strengthening Connecticut’s competitive position in the rapidly changing knowledge-based global economy. The agency takes a comprehensive approach to economic development that incorporates community development, transportation, education and arts and culture.

The Good to Great Grant Program, administered by the DECD’s offices of Arts and Historic Preservation, is a pilot program funded through Public Act 14-98 and provides grants to not-for-profit organizations that sponsor cultural and historic sites in Connecticut. Good to Great was created in 2014 to fund improvements that will significantly enhance cultural and historic sites and the way people enjoy them. Specifically, the program will target smaller and mid-sized cultural organizations that have received limited state funding in the past.


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