Philip Johnson is a distinguished American architect, born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1906. The first director of the architecture department at the Museum of Modern Art in 1946, and later a trustee, he was awarded an American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1978 and the first Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1979.
Perhaps his most famous work is the Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, a transparent frame structure initially designed as his own home for his master's thesis in 1949, and in which he has since resided. The estate on which the Glass House is built continues to grow and now boasts a number of unique designs, including a building made out of chain-link fencing, a sculpture gallery with a glass ceiling, a house of brick mirroring his glass house, and a building with no conventionally shaped walls (having only two corners).
Johnson's later works include the State Theater at Lincoln Center and the Four Seasons Restaurant in Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building in New York City, the Neuberger Museum of Art at SUNY Purchase College, as well as the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California.
Johnson wrote (Heyer, 1966):
- The painters have every advantage over us today...Besides being able to tear up their failures—we never can seem to grow ivy fast enough—their materials cost them nothing. They have no committees of laymen telling them what to do. They have no deadlines, no budgets. We are all sickeningly familiar with the final cuts to our plans at the last moment. Why not take out the landscaping, the retaining walls, the colonnades? The building would be just as useful and much cheaper. True, an architect leads a hard life—for an artist.
- ...Comfort is not a function of beauty... purpose is not necessary to make a building beautiful...sooner or later we will fit our buildings so that they can be used...where form comes from I don't know, but it has nothing at all to do with the functional or sociological aspects of our architecture.
- Philip Johnson. Retrieved Sep. 27, 2003 from http://www.greatbuildings.com/architects/Philip_Johnson.html
- Philip Johnson, Pritzker Architecture Prize. Retrieved Sep. 27, 2003 from http://www.pritzkerprize.com/pjohn.htm
- Online NewsHour: Philip Johnson, a modern architectural master (1996). Retrieved Sep. 27, 2003 from http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/Johnson_House.html
- Heyer, Paul, ed. (1966). Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America, p. 279. New York: Walker and Company.