A Philip Johnson House Is Reborn as an Inclusive Cultural Space
After restoring a Philip Johnson residence in Newburgh, New York, a duo of creative directors is transforming it into a dynamic community hub that will host design events physically and in the metaverse—and reclaim one of the disgraced late architect’s treasures as a place of inclusivity.
Overlooking the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge on a hilltop in the picturesque Hudson Valley is the BIPOC- and LGBTQ-led Wolfhouse, a classic midcentury-modern home completed in 1949 by Philip Johnson, who in recent years has come under fire for his support of Nazism. The house bears his hallmark architectural style: open-plan layouts with seamless circulation and floor-to-ceiling glass walls offering expansive views of the surrounding natural scenery. The historic structure is now entering its next chapter as a dynamic showcase for art and design—both physically and virtually—after a top-to-bottom revamp by Jiminie Ha, the Guggenheim Museum’s design director, and art director Jeremy Parker.
The pair envisions Wolfhouse as an inclusive community hub that will host events and show off collaborations with emerging designers and brands, including plans for Web3 programming across a VR gallery, NFT drops, and metaverse events. “We as BIPOC and LGBTQ+ founders are eager to build a more inclusive future for the Wolfhouse residence, particularly through accessible digital programming,” Parker and Ha tell Surface.
To kick things off, Wolfhouse will release limited-edition decks of virtual tarot cards, called the RELIX Collection, which will go on presale April 16 and be publicly available on OpenSea exactly one month later. (All future drops align with the lunar calendar—May 16 is a total lunar eclipse.) Buyers will be randomly assigned an animated card from one of three decks before enjoying a Web3-powered reading. Other perks include virtual tarot sessions with renowned reader Rashunda Tramble, physical RELIX decks, and a night stay at Wolfhouse in the Hudson Valley.
“The most eminently cancellable human being of all time,” is how author Ian Volner described the undeniably influential architect in Philip Johnson: A Visual Biography (Phaidon). All the more sweet, we say, that one of his masterpieces will live on posthumously as a symbol of forward progress.