The Richard Neutra Glen Residence, in Stamford CT, undertook restorative design interventions with a collaboration between client and architect not to return the house to its original, as-built state, but rather to reach beyond what was constructed and bring it back in-line with Neutra’s original vision for the house. When it was completed in 1959, certain material and spatial characteristics of the Glen Residence were aberrant to Neutra’s typical designs. These deviations had two root causes: budget considerations and particular programmatic requirements of the client. The house’s current owner wanted to alter the house to bring it closer into alignment with what Neutra originally proposed as well as updating the house to facilitate a living, evolving mechanism rather than a static structure tethered to a particular moment in time.
The project’s final cost of construction in 1959 was three times the original budget, so certain design elements were cut from scope and details were altered in the field to mitigate costs. The renovation saw through some of these original intentions. One such alteration was the use of wood siding in lieu of whitewashed masonry on exterior walls. The renovation re-envisioned these walls as white stucco as a nod to Neutra’s original intention. Another example was the expansion of the original skylights. Neutra took great pains to site the house with respect to its exposure to not only the sun, but also the moon. He wrote that he had designed skylights that brought in both the daytime sunlight and the nighttime moonlight to naturally illuminate the spaces. While some of the original skylights did bring in natural light, others were too small to be effectual. The renovation expanded these skylights, opening up a series of small, button-like apertures into a large slot-light above the kitchen island.
The Glen family made certain requests for their home that ran contrary to basic characteristics of most other Neutra houses. The original client was an affluent family with a maid on staff and consequently requested clear divisions between public and private space. This ran contrary to Neutra’s usual employment of open, fluid and connected spaces, a scheme that very much supports the needs of the current owner. The new design opened up the kitchen to the living room and to the floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the landscape beyond. Thin-profile stainless steel columns bear the load formerly held by the party wall between the kitchen and dining area, affording a higher degree of transparency and view. For both the Glens and the new client, this house serves as a place of refuge away from the city—a peaceful home for their nuclear families and point of gathering for extended family to come together.
Photography © Michael Biondo