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Comments Posted 04.23.10 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Mark Lamster

Gores House


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Of the many individuals who found themselves in the orbit of Philip Johnson over his long life, Landis Gores stands as one of the more fascinating. He was a native of Ohio (like Johnson) who loved horses (he met his wife on a ranch in Wyoming) and played football at Princeton. He met Johnson at Harvard, where the two studied architecture (Gores, though younger, was a class ahead) and developed a shared friendship based on their interest in the classics and a taste for the kind of modern architecture that was not fashionable under Walter Gropius.

Johnson preferred Mies; Gores was more of a Wright man, as the house he built for himself in New Canaan, just after the war, makes plain. Gores's wartime service had been exemplary; he was a part of the now justly mythologized code-breaking team, based in Bletchley Park, England, that broke the cyphers of the Nazi high command. Upon return from the war, he was recruited by Johnson, who needed a deputy to assist him in practice. The collaboration was not too long; Gores, talented in his own right, was anxious to go off on his own. His house, however, though quite different from Johnson's nearby Glass House, was also in many ways modeled on it; set on a promontory with a view; broad expanses of glass opening out onto nature. Gores, sadly, was stricken with polio just a few years after opening his own office, and before the release of the Salk vaccine. It was the end of a promising career. A few more images of the house, designed when Gores was all of 26 (!), follow.
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Mark Lamster is the architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News and a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington School of Architecture. A contributing editor to Architectural Review, he is currently at work on his third book, a biography of the late architect Philip Johnson. Follow: @marklamster.
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