Modernism on the East Coast – Philip Johnson and the Harvard Five
Our 2018 Iconic Houses Conference and House Tours will explore the East Coast of the USA, retracing the root taken by Modernism when it arrived from Europe. In particular, the New Canaan area has an impressive number of high-quality Modernist homes, because the architects who taught at Harvard built houses for themselves and their friends here. New Canaan is naturally mainly associated with the Glass House. And many of the other masterpieces are the work of Philip Johnson and the Harvard Five. In the 1940s, a group of five
The Pritzker Prize is the most important award in the field of architecture, awarded to a living architect whose built work "has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity through the art of architecture." The Prize rewards individuals, not entire offices, as took place in 2000 (when the jury selected Rem Koolhaas instead of his firm OMA) or in 2016 (with Alejandro Aravena selected instead of Elemental); however, the prize can also be awarded to multiple individuals working together, as took place in 2001 (Herzog & de Meuron), 2010 (Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA), and 2017 (Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta of RCR Arquitectes).
The award is an initiative funded by Jay Pritzker through the Hyatt Foundation, an organization associated with the hotel company of the same name that Jay founded with his brother Donald in 1957. The award was first given in 1979, when the American architect Philip Johnson, was awarded for his iconic works such as the Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut.
The Pritzker Prize has been awarded for almost forty straight years without interruption, and there are now 18 countries with at least one winning architect. To date, half of the winners are European; while the Americas, Asia, and Oceania share the other twenty editions. So far, no African architect has been awarded, making it the only continent without a winner.
The designs by Snøhetta for the renovation of the building at 550 Madison Avenue have launched the building to the forefront of the debate about the preservation of Postmodern heritage. The plans include replacing the stone facade with undulating glass in order to transform the building's street presence. Should plans progress, the once prominent arched entry will sit behind fritted glass and stone covered columns will be unwrapped to create a hovering datum.
While the exterior of Philip Johnson’s iconic AT&T awaits its fate in an upcoming New York City landmarks designation hearing, demolition of its granite-clad interior lobby has already begun.
Citing the fact that the lobby had already been altered in the 1990s – including the removal of the “Golden Boy” statue – when the building switched tenants from AT&T to the Sony Corporation, the Landmarks Preservation Commission decided last month that the interiors were not deserving of landmark status.
Eyeglasses: the quintessential accessory of the architect. They are mini pieces of architecture you can wear, and an outward expression of your inner persona. Whether they be square, round, or wire-frame, black, white, tortoiseshell, or bright neon tones, they represent our visionary ideals. As such, many of the most iconic spectacles have an interesting history behind them; so here are the stories behind seven of the most recognizable eyeglasses in the architecture world.
Taking photographs in fog can be an experience as chaotic as it is enchanting. Although working with this phenomenon can be risky, since fog dramatically modifies the available light and the atmosphere of a scene, if you know how to take advantage of it, the result can lead to perfect photographs. Below is a selection of 10 images from prominent photographers such as Kevin Scott, Richard Barnes, and Koichi Torimura.
Today, an application to schedule a hearing to landmark the building was approved unanimously by the city’s Landmarks and Preservation Commission (LPC). In a few months time, the LPC will hold a public forum for the building, followed by a deliberation on whether or not the tower deserves official landmark status.
Designed by Snøhetta, the project centers on improving the transparency of its street presence. To do this, the stone facade at the building base will be replaced with a undulating glass curtain wall intended to be more inviting and attractive toward pedestrians, while the existing mid-block public passageway will be opened into a much larger outdoor landscape.
Madrid is unfathomable. If the city itself is immense, it´s examples of interesting architecture are overwhelming. For over a half a century, Madrid has been an experimental laboratory for modern and contemporary architecture in Spain. With numerous examples of innovative and experimental architecture, as well as many failures, few of which are valued and recognized. This selection seeks to show archetypal examples of architecture that have transcended time; it does not intend to be an exhaustive list of the city´s architectural works. Many will think that the list lacks important buildings and personally, I couldn´t agree more. That is perhaps the beauty of Madrid: there is a diversity of opinion, there are thousands of sites to see, the city surprises you with every step you take.
When he was awarded the first ever Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1979, the jury described Philip Johnson (July 8, 1906 – January 25, 2005) as someone who “produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the environment," adding that "as a critic and historian, he championed the cause of modern architecture and then went on to design some of his greatest buildings.” However, even after winning the Pritzker Prize at age 73, Johnson still had so much more of his legacy to build: in the years after 1979, Johnson almost completely redefined his style, adding another chapter to his influence over the architecture world.
When Philip Johnson curated the Museum of Modern Arts’ (MoMA) 1932 “International Exhibition of Modern Architecture,” he did so with the explicit intention of defining the International Style. As a guest curator at the same institution in 1988 alongside Mark Wigley (now Dean Emeritus of the Columbia GSAPP), Johnson took the opposite approach: rather than present architecture derived from a rigidly uniform set of design principles, he gathered a collection of work by architects whose similar (but not identical) approaches had yielded similar results. The designers he selected—Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, Bernard Tschumi, and the firm Coop Himmelblau (led by Wolf Prix)—would prove to be some of the most influential architects of the late 20th Century to the present day.[1,2]
The architectural legacy of the Rockefeller family in Manhattan is well-known, most obviously demonstrated in the slab-like Art Deco towers of the Rockefeller Center and the ever-expanding campus of the MoMA. But in a city that is filled with landmarks and historic buildings, it's easy for even the most remarkable projects to go unrecognized. Philip Johnson's Rockefeller Guest House in Manhattan was completed in 1950, just one year after the construction of his better known Glass House in New Canaan. The Glass House is an obvious cousin to the later guest house: both feature largely empty glass and steel boxlike forms, where structural work is exposed and celebrated.
The "architectural pilgrimage" is much more than just everyday tourism. Studying and admiring a building through text and images often creates a hunger in architects, thanks to the space between the limitations of 2D representation and the true experience of the building. Seeing a building in person that one has long loved from a distance can become something of a spiritual experience, and architects often plan vacations around favorite or important spaces. But too often, architects become transfixed by a need to visit the same dozen European cities that have come to make up the traveling architect's bucket list.
The list here shares some sites that may not have made your list just yet. Although somewhat less well known than the canonical cities, the architecture of these six cities is sure to hold its ground against the world's best. The locations here make ideal long weekend trips (depending of course on where you are traveling from), although it never hurts to have more than a few days to really become immersed in a city. We have selected a few must-see buildings from each location, but each has even more to offer than what you see here—so don't be afraid to explore!
When the Crystal Cathedral was constructed near Los Angeles in 1980, its design was pure Hollywood: designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee for televangelist star Robert Schuller, the design combined traditional elements of church design with features that made it suitable for television broadcasts. However, when Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed for bankruptcy in 2010, the building was passed to a very different tenant, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, who then commissioned Los Angeles-based firm Johnson Fain to adapt the building to be a better fit for the Catholic Church.
New York’s Architecture Research Office (ARO) has been selected to lead in the renovation and master planning of the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas. The project aims to modernize and improve the renowned structure, which houses 14 monumental paintings by Mark Rothko in an interior space designed to meet the artist’s precise specifications, and its surrounding plaza and reflecting pool. The original building was largely designed by Rothko himself, with consult from a trio of architects including Philip Johnson.
Artist and writer Yayoi Kusama has created an installation for the Glass House that will be on display in celebration of the 110th anniversary of Philip Johnson’s birth, as well as the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Glass House site to the public.
From September 1 through 26, Dots Obsession – Alive, Seeking for Eternal Hope will be on display, with the Glass House itself covered with polka dots. “Visitors who attend the exhibition during this time will be offered the unique experience to simultaneously see the world through the eyes of both Philip Johnson and Yayoi Kusama.”
How do you reinvent an architectural icon for the 21st century? How can you inspire people to see potential in a structure that has been off limits for decades? And how do you activate a public space in a way that is sustainable for future generations? The National Trust and People for the Pavilion invite you to do just that by envisioning a bold and optimistic future for the New York State Pavilion.