In Glass Houses

July 23, 2010

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Philip Johnson Glass House and the MFA Interaction Design Department have launched glasshouseconversations.org, a Web site that extends the signature Glass House Conversations program, an invitational held at the Glass House during 2008 and 2009 with cultural, business and educational leaders. Students from the program began working on the project last fall, with the goals of adapting the Conversations series to an expanded digital forum and building on the legacy of architect Philip Johnson’s home in New Canaan, Connecticut, a place that architectural historian Vincent Scully called the “longest-running salon in America.”


Six interaction design students—Clint Beharry, Derek Chan, Kristin Graefe, Katie Koch, Russell Maschmeyer and Eric St. Ongedeveloped the site from the fall of 2009 through the spring of 2010 in the department’s Continuing the Conversation course. “Glass House Conversations was a dynamic opportunity for our students to extend the learning from the classroom and work in a creative collaboration with clients who care deeply both about design and the community at large,” said Department Chair Liz Danzico.


Each week on glasshouseconversations.org a host puts forth a provocation in the form of a question or a debate topic, and members of the public worldwide have up to five days to respond. Alice Rawsthorn, the design critic for the International Herald Tribune, hosted the discussion for the week of July 19, and upcoming conversations will be led by leaders in cultural fields, including Ralph Caplan, John Lilly and John Maeda. SVA will continue to be involved through the site’s launch as two students from the MFA Design Criticism DepartmentMolly Heintz and Emily Leibin—have been named fellows at the Glass House to help shape content for the site, inviting moderators and designing questions to inspire online exchange and use.

Images: (top) Photo of Glass House by Robin Hill; (bottom) Photo of Glass House Conversation by Drew Harty.

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