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If you like Philip Johnson's story, you might also like:
J. Carter Brown,
Dale Chihuly,
Frank Gehry,
Maya Lin,
James Rosenquist,
Robert Schuller,
Fritz Scholder,
Norman Schwarzkopf,
Vincent Scully and
Wayne Thiebaud

Philip Johnson's recommended reading: The Republic

Teachers can find prepared lesson plans featuring Philip Johnson in the Achievement Curriculum section:
Meet the Architects

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Pritzker Prize
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Philip Johnson
Philip Johnson
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Philip Johnson Biography

Dean of American Architects

Philip Johnson Date of birth: July 8, 1906
Date of death: January 25, 2005

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  Philip Johnson

Philip Johnson Biography Photo
For more than 50 years, Philip Johnson was one of the most influential figures in American design and architecture.

After graduating with a degree in philosophy from Harvard in 1930, Johnson became founder and director of the Department of Architecture and Design of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the first museum-affiliated program in the United States devoted to the study and exploration of architecture as an art. It was during his first tenure in the position -- he headed the department between 1930 and 1936, and again from 1946 to 1954 -- that he and architectural historian Henry-Russell Hitchcock mounted their landmark exhibition entitled "The International Style."

Philip Johnson Biography Photo
This 1932 effort, which labeled an architectural style being practiced by such European masters as Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, introduced a generation of American architects to a revolutionary approach to design. Characterized by the use of such modern materials as glass and steel, and emphasizing function and structure over ornamental decoration, the International Style dominated our city skylines for 50 years, and continues to heavily influence contemporary design.

Johnson returned to Harvard at age 34, to study architecture, and after military service, embarked on a distinguished career as a practicing architect. In addition to promoting the theory of the International Style, Mr. Johnson was credited with creating some of its major monuments, including the Seagram Building (in a collaboration with Mies van der Rohe) and his own famed Glass House (1949), a single room entirely walled in glass, which has been donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Philip Johnson Biography Photo
Johnson designed many landmarks across the nation, including the twin trapezoid-shaped Pennzoil Place in Houston, the 51-story IDS Center in Minneapolis and the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center.

In 1967, Philip Johnson formed a partnership with John Burgee. Mr. Johnson entered a new phase of his career with Mr. Burgee, an architect with a reputation for mastering large and complex projects. Together, Messrs. Johnson and Burgee attracted the types of commissions -- important high-profile projects, both large-scale and small -- that neither, individually, had previously attracted on a regular basis. These jointly designed projects -- from Minneapolis' IDS Center, to the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, to the corporate headquarters of Pittsburgh Plate Glass -- reflect a distinctive, if not easily categorized, approach to design.

Philip Johnson Biography Photo
Johnson and Burgee's design for the AT&T Corporate Headquarters building (1984) in New York, with its stone cladding and identifying broken-pediment top, changed the dialogue of contemporary architecture just as dramatically as the International Style had 50 years before. Its blatant use of a material that did not reflect the functional or structural realities of the building, as well as the incorporation of design elements merely for their own aesthetic value, ran counter to the tenets of the International Style. AT&T represented a critical watershed: it was the first major built structure that revived the use of historic styles -- an approach to design prevalent throughout history but strongly abandoned and derided by the profession during the supremacy of the International Style.

Mr. Johnson was justly celebrated for championing the two architectural movements that most profoundly affected urban landscapes during the second half of the 20th century: the International Style; and the reintroduction of the uses of a wide variety of historic styles in contemporary architectural design. Philip Johnson won the first Pritzker Architecture Prize for lifetime achievement and received the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects, the highest honor of his profession.

Through his designs, writings, and teachings, Philip Johnson played a seminal role in defining the theoretical shape and literal form taken by architecture in the 20th century.

This page last revised on Nov 28, 2012 16:46 EDT
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