The Architect’s Newspaper has learned that curator and gallerist Henry Urbach will become the new executive director of the Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, a National Trust for Historic Preservation property. Urbach succeeds interim director Rena Zurofsky, who took the reins following the departure of executive director Christy MacLear in the fall of 2010.
In April 2011, Urbach abruptly left his position as curator of architecture and design at SFMOMA after a five-year tenure, stating he had no definite plans for the future other than finishing a “book on installation architecture along with other pending projects.” He previously ran a namesake art and architecture gallery in New York.
At the Glass House, Urbach will be responsible for overseeing the 47-acre site in New Canaan, where Johnson spent his weekends and the last years of his life. In addition to a constant swirl of events and cocktail parties, Johnson used the site for architectural experiments, and the property is dotted with small buildings in addition to the iconic glass-walled house, including an underground art gallery, whose contents Johnson acquired with longtime partner David Whitney.
Following Johnson’s death in 2005, the site became part of the National Trust, which opened the property to public tours in 2007. In addition to creating the public face of the site, MacLear developed an array of experimental programming during her directorship, such as Glass House Conversations, a series of dinner parties among an interdisciplinary group of cultural leaders that took place inside the Glass House, which in turn inspired the online conversation forum glasshouseconversations.org.
AN looks forward to seeing how Urbach plans to keep Johnson’s spirit alive in New Canaan and beyond.