“Architecture is the art of how to waste space.”
– Philip Johnson
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Philip Johnson was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1906, and in the years since has become one of architecture’s most potent forces. Before designing his first building at the age of 36, Johnson had been client, critic, author, historian, museum director, but not an architect.
In 1949, after a number of years as the Museum of Modern Art’s first director of the Architecture Department, Johnson designed a residence for himself in New Canaan, Connecticut for his master degree thesis, the now famous Glass House.
He literally coined the term “International School of Architecture” for an exhibition at MOMA.
Johnson organized Mies van der Rohe’s first visit to this country as well as Le Corbusier’s. He even commissioned Mies to design his New York apartment. Later, he would collaborate with Mies on what has been described as this continent’s finest high-rise building, the Seagram Building in New York.
By the fifties, Johnson was revising his earlier views, culminating with a building that proved to be one of the most controversial of his career—the AT&T headquarters in New York with its so-called “Chippendale” top.
Joining forces with partner John Burgee from 1967 through 1987, their twenty year output has been nothing short of phenomenal.
The list of projects fills a volume, but suffice it to say, ranges from numerous high-rise projects such as International Place in Boston; Tycon Towers in Vienna, Virginia; Momentum Place in Dallas; 53rd at Third in New York; NCNB Center in Houston; PPG in Pittsburgh; 101 California in San Francisco; United Bank Center Tower in Denver; to the far flung National Center for Performing Arts in Bombay, India; Century Center in South Bend, Indiana; a Water Garden in Fort Worth, Texas; a Civic Center in Peoria, Illinois; the Crystal Cathedral in California; and a Dade County Cultural Center in Miami. There are many, many more.
In 1989, Johnson became semi-retired, and devoted his time mainly to projects of his own, but still is a consultant to John Burgee Architects. His most recent design is for a new School of Fine Arts for Seton Hill College in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
Johnson died January 2005.