Located at 330 Spring Street and the corner of Washington Street, the Urban Glass House is the last building in New York City designed by architect Philip Johnson who passed away in 2005, with his firm Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects. Indeed the project seemed to be burdened by constant challenges over the course of its design and construction.
Johnson had first proposed a sculptural high-rise for the site akin to his tall buildings in midtown such as the Sony Building (originally the AT&T Building) and the Lipstick Building. But local community groups rebuffed the proposal on account of its height. In response the project’s developer, restaurateur Antonio Vendome, suggested that Johnson return to his mid-century modernist roots and create an urban pendant to the architect’s own glass house in New Canaan, Connecticut designed in 1949. Johnson responded with a twelve-story glass box with facades embellished by set backs providing private terraces for select units. In 2002, Vendome sold his interest in the project to Abram Shnay, Charles Blaichman, and Scott Sabbagh who joined forces to form Glass House Development LLC. The new developers brought on SLCE Architects to execute Johnson’s design and architect Annabelle Selldorf to design the interiors of the building’s 39 residences. When occupancy was delayed for months after its slated date in summer 2006, tenants who had bought in began to moan. Faced with such trials, however, the integrity of Johnson’s design was not compromised and the building has been widely hailed a future landmark.