The world's best architects spend so much time designing buildings for other people it's hard to imagine there's time for their own homes. But when a starchitect, so to speak, designs for themselves, it's bound to be something special. Take Philip Johnson's Glass House (above) in New Canaan, Conn., where the architect lived from 1949 until his death in 2005. The glass-and-steel construction might not be everyone's idea of a comfortable living situation—after all, privacy wasn't a priority for Johnson, clearly—but that doesn't prevent the glass-and-steel construction from drawing thousands of design-minded tourists every year. With that in mind, we went looking for the next Glass House.
? Alvar Aalto, the prolific Finnish designer and architect, penned some of the most enduring midcentury designs. In trademark style, he and his wife designed both the home, which was completed in Helsinki in 1936, and many of its unique furnishings. Like the Glass House, Aalto's home (above) has also become a museum and he one ups Johnson in the legacy department: in 2010, the Aalto University opened.
? Long before Frank Gehry became the world's most famous architect he was busying himself with a little remodeling in Santa Monica. In the '70s, Gehry purchased a Santa Monica, Calif. Dutch colonial and put his deconstructivist spin on it, including chain-link fencing, stripped studs, and angular glass walls. Surely not what the neighbors were expecting when a kindly young architect moved in next door, but now that Gehry is an international superstar they probably don't mind quite so much.
? Norman Foster, the British starchitect behind London's instantly iconic spiral skyscraper, 30 St Mary Axe, takes his vacations in the south of France, at the seaside villa he designed for himself in Cap Ferrat. Mechanized glass walls admit sea breezes, while a massive sun shade protects rooftop revelers from the glare of the Mediterranean sun. If it becomes a posthumous shrine to Foster's work, at least vistors will enjoy some better weather than Connecticut is typically privy to.
? Now we come to the master of postmodern nostalgia, Robert A.M. Stern. Though he serves as the dean of the Yale School of Architecture—and rents an apartment in New Haven—he spends much of his time in a building of his own design in NYC, The Chatham. His apartment, which faces west—toward Central Park and the Midtown skyscrapers—features many unique touches, like the hidden TV that rises out of a built-in. Stern must really love the place, because he hasn't moved to either of his more recent blockbusters: 15 Central Park West or the West Village's Superior Ink.
· Philip Johnson Glass House [official site]
· The Aalto House [official site]
· Gehry Residence [Arch Daily]
· The vacation house of Sir Norman Foster [Pushpullbar]
· Apartment in the Chatham [Robert A.M. Stern Architects]