Legendary French high-wire artist Philippe Petit stood perfectly still, his arms extended like a bird in flight as he suspended his body during an aerial walk at the Philip Johnson Glass House. The balancing act, set to classical music with a brief “Happy Birthday” interlude, captivated guests during the Glass House’s annual Summer Party celebrating its 70th anniversary in New Canaan, Connecticut. This June, Hunter Douglas was proud to support this special event featuring performances, a farm-to-table picnic and a silent auction curated by Paddle8.
The event raised $525,000 towards the preservation of the architecturally significant home that was Johnson’s case study in indoor-outdoor living. He designed the modern glass and steel home for himself, taking careful efforts to preserve breathtaking 360-degree views of the 49-acre property. Johnson completed the Glass House in 1949; throughout his lifetime, he continued to add unique structures to the grounds, the latest being the “Da Monsta” gatehouse in 1995.
The Glass House was born from the ethos of pairing clean, geometric lines with minimalist materials like glass, steel and marble. This modern design approach ultimately complements, rather than distracts from, the organic beauty of surrounding nature. During the Summer Party, guests were invited to roam the property, which boasts hidden gems like a sculpture gallery, a one-room library called “The Studio” and art gallery that includes depictions of Johnson by Andy Warhol.
“Please embrace all that our site has to offer,” said Scott Drevnig, deputy director of the Philip Johnson Glass House. Drevnig introduced the event’s activities and thanked longtime council members, visitors and supporters, including Hunter Douglas.
“A lot of you are here for the first time, and we are very glad you are here to experience this magnificent site with us,” Drevnig told the crowd. “The 70th Anniversary Summer Party is thankfully, generously supported by Chelsfield, Hunter Douglas and SRI Fine Art Services, so I profusely thank them on behalf of the team for all that they have done. As we try to accomplish a lot, we are grateful for their support.”
The afternoon marched on as a drumline and dance troupe, The Marching Cobras, snaked through the crowds and onto the grand lawn for a thrilling performance. Drevnig shared that the mission of the New York-based group is “to enrich the lives of teens by providing opportunities for artistic expression and team development through music, marching, dance and entertainment. They are the perfect partners for us as we celebrate our 70th anniversary.”
Next came the beautiful performance by Philippe Petit, the artist who famously (and illegally) walked a tightrope between the Twin Towers in 1974. He is also the subject of the 2009 Academy Award-winning documentary, “Man on a Wire” and the feature film, “The Walk.” Drevnig called Petit’s performance a staged “dialogue with the Glass House,” teasing, “his aerial surprise will be as unique as the iconic structure he is going to honor.” After a series of ballet-like movements on a wire suspended above the lawn, Petit bowed before descending through the roof and into the Glass House itself.
Later in the afternoon, guests sought shade beneath tents to unpack their wicker picnic baskets, lounged in seating provided by Design Within Reach and played rounds of ping-pong. Groups lazed on the grass, munching ripe peaches and sipping rosé. Others explored the wooden walkways that led past sculptures to The Pavilion in the Pond—relishing a relaxing moment as the celebratory day concluded.
“We encourage you to come back often and experience the seasons here,” Drevnig told partygoers. “Thank you for joining us today, and thank you for helping us preserve our campus for generations to come.”
Hunter Douglas is proud to support the 70th Anniversary of the Philip Johnson Glass House. Last fall, Hunter Douglas hosted an exclusive event at the Glass House to illustrate the transformative power of light by installing Duette® Honeycomb Shades with LightLock™ technology. The shades were lowered to create a sanctuary of darkness; when lifted, Philip Johnson’s glass oasis welcomed abundant views of autumn foliage.
Visit the Philip Johnson Glass House year-round at 199 Elm Street, New Canaan, CT 06840.