Frank Lloyd Wright and Johnson, 1953
"The job of the architect today is to create beautiful buildings. That's all."
PHILIP CORTELYOU JOHNSON, FAIA
In 1928, Johnson met the Bauhaus architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who was at the time designing the German Pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona exhibition. The meeting was a revelation for Johnson and formed the basis for a lifelong relationship.
Johnson organized the landmark show "The International Style: Architecture Since 1922" at the Museum of Modern Art in 1932. It was profoundly influential and is seen as the US introduction such pivotal architects as Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, and Mies van der Rohe. The exhibition was also notable for controversy: architect Frank Lloyd Wright withdrew his entries in pique that he was not more prominently featured.
Johnson's father's early investment in ALCOA, the American aluminum company, made Johnson a millionaire in his '20s.
Johnson joined van der Rohe in the design of the 1956 Seagram Building, a bronze and glass tower on Park Avenue. The New York Times called it the most important building of the twentieth century. Later Johnson commissions included the master plan of Lincoln Center, PPG Place in Pittsburgh, various building at New York University, and the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California.
He was the first winner of the Pritzker Prize, the $100,000 award established in 1979 by the Pritzker family of Chicago to honor an architect of international stature. In 1978, he won the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects, the highest award the American profession bestows on any of its members.
He collaborated frequently with Richard Foster.
Many thanks to Catherine Westergaard for her extensive research.
1942 - The
Philip Johnson house,
9 Ash Street, Cambridge MA.
Johnson designed it as his graduate thesis and lived in this
hidden-away house while he was at Harvard. It is his first
free-standing building, although he later admitted many errors. The
house is encased in a 9' wall. Sold to a second owner after
WWII, then sold to the next door neighbor Laurence Tribe, a
constitutional law scholar and former teacher of President Obama,
who used it as a study. Sold in 2010 to Harvard University
which hired Thomas Pfifer to fix it up. B/W photos by Ezra Stoller/ESTO.
1944 - The Julius and Cleome Wadsworth House, Virginia. Unsure if built.
1946 - The Booth House, 319 Pound Ridge Road, Bedford NY. 3120 sf. Johnson's first house design to be built. Sold in 1955 to architectural photographer Robert Damora and his wife architect Sirkka Damora who lived there for 55 years. In the 1960's, Damora added a studio building adjacent to the house. Photos by Robert Damora and Robert Preston. Bottom photo by Julie Platner. Damora died in 2009. For sale in 2010-2011.
1946 - The Mina Kirstein Curtiss House, Ashfield MA. Unbuilt.
1947 - The Joesph B. Bramlette House, Montauk NY. Unbuilt.
1947 - The John E. Abbott House, Mount Desert Island ME. Unbuilt.
1948 - The House of Glass for Museum of Modern Art, New York NY. Unbuilt.
1948 - The Mrs. John D. Rockefeller III Pool Pavilion and Art Gallery, Tarrytown NY. Unbuilt.
1949 - Johnson's own "Glass House," Ponus Ridge Road, New Canaan CT, 69 miles north of New York City. He lived there for 45 years with partner David Whitney. Nearby is the entrance to his 1965 underground Painting Gallery. Public tours available, information here. Tours start within walking distance of the New Canaan Train Station and you are shuttled out to the grounds.
1951 - The John and Dominique de Menil House, 3363 San Felipe Street, Houston TX. Commissioned 1948. This was the first Modernist house in Houston. After Dominique's death, it was given to The Menil Foundation, their family foundation. The restoration of the 5,600-square-foot structure -- which has almost no interior doors and many glass walls -- began in 2001 and finished in 2004 under the direction of Bill Stern of Stern and Bucek Architects. Not open to the public except for special events.
Like most people they had problems getting a loan for a Modernist house, so they did it in two parts. The house won the first prize in residential design at the 1954 International Exhibition of Architecture in Brazil and the 1956 First Honor Award from the AIA. Published in the March 1953 issue of Architectural Record. A bedroom addition and connecting glass bridge were completed between 1956 and 1957 by builder E. W. Howell. In 1960, the combination stable/carport was constructed. The swimming pool was added in 1961. In 2006, it was sold to Craig Bassam and Christopher Scott Fellows who still owned it as of 2011. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places. B/W photos by Ezra Stoller. Bottom two photos by Nicholas Koenig.
1951 - The Henry and Anne McDonnell Ford II Addition, aka Halcyon Lodge, 436 Gin Lane, Southampton, Long Island NY. Sold in 1981 to John and Elsie Reilly. Sold to the Elsie Reilly Nelson Revocable Trust. Sold in 2006 to 436 Gin Lane LLC (O. Scott Bommer). Bommer also purchased the property next door. As of February 2014, Bommer applied to have the entire house demolished. Sold in late 2014. As of January 2015 the house was still in place but a demo permit has been approved.
1952 - The Richard S. Davis House, 1760 Shoreline Drive, Wayzata MN. Sold to Mike and Penny Winton who in the late 1980's added a 2300sf Frank Gehry guest house (middle photo, right). Then the land was subdivided with each house on a separate parcel. The Johnson-designed house was sold to Bob and Carolyn Nelson. BW photos by Ezra Stoller/ESTO.
The Gehry-designed house was sold to Kirk Woodhouse, who eventually gave it to to the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul in 2008. He paid for a 2009 relocation 60 miles south to a the Gainey Conference Center in Owatonna. It is now open to the public.
1953 - The Robert C. Wiley House, aka the Wiley Development Company House, 178 Sleepy Hollow Road, New Canaan CT. Commissioned 1952. In 1960, the existing barn was altered to include a playroom, bathroom, and dressing rooms for the adjacent pool. In 1978, the house was purchased by the Archbishopric of New York. Sold in 1979 to Howell D. and Linda K. Wood. Sold in 1994 to Frank P. Gallipoli. Roger Ferris+Partners renovated the house and barn, adding a pool house and garage, bottom photo. 2nd to 4th photos by Ezra Stoller/ESTO. 4th photo by E. J. Cyr. For sale in 2015.
1953 - The Alice Ball House,
523 Oenoke Ridge Road, New Canaan CT.
Sold in 1960 to F. Jay Ward, Jr. and others. A garage was
constructed on the property in 1962. Sold in 1965 to
Margaret Mary Ward. Sold in 1969 to Marjorie K. Macrae.
Sold in 1977 to Janet T. Phypers. She converted an an existing
room in the garage into a bedroom and bathroom in 1978. Sold in
2005 to Cristina A. Ross who did restorations in 2007. It has
been on and off the market since about 2009.
1953 - The District Managers House, Schemes 1 and 2, Maracaibo, Venezuela. Unbuilt.
1953 - The District Managers House, Schemes 1 and 2, Maracaibo, Venezuela. Unbuilt.1953 - The House for El Tigre, Venezuela. Unbuilt.
1955 - The Robert C. Wiley Speculative House, 178 Sleepy Hollow Road, New Canaan CT. Johnson's first spec house. Commissioned 1954. Built for Robert C. Wiley, the real estate developer who was a Johnson client. Featured in Progressive Architecture in October 1955 and Architectural Record in November 1955. Sold in 1956 to Roland W. Rodegast. Sold in 1958 to E. Wyatte Hicks and later Shirley M. Hicks. Two 1963 additions were constructed: one connected the garage to the house, and the second was attached to the end of the garage, creating a U-shaped plan for the house. Sold in 1992 to Peter A. Kanter and later Regina A. Kanter. Sold in 2003 to Joyce D. Flaschen, Trustee, and Robert J. Miller, Trustee. For sale in 2014. Bottom two photos by Bryan Haeffle.
1955 - The Joseph Hirshhorn House, Campo Bello FL. Unbuilt.
1956 - The Robert C. Leonhardt House, 27 Mallard Drive, Lloyd's Harbor NY. Houseguests included Sophia Loren. BW Photos by Ezra Stoller/ESTO. Sold to Charles and Elizabeth Hubbard.
1956 - The William A. M. Burden House, Mount Kisco NY. Unbuilt. Previously, Johnson designed two renovations schemes for the Burden's apartment.
1956 - The Eric Boissonnas House, 78 Logan Road, New Canaan CT. 33 acres. 4400 square feet. The house was completed in 1956. The contractor for the project was E.W. Howell and the structural engineer was the Eipel Engineering Company. The landscape was designed by Johnson, who later said it was his favorite and his best house. The two-story living room contained an organ and was designed as an "acoustical chamber" with organ pipes hidden in the floor.
In 1960, the Boissonas family sold the house to the Logan Road Realty Corporation and moved to France, where Johnson designed them another house. The house and 30 acres were sold in 1963 to John F. Hennessy Jr. According to their son, Jim Hennessy, the family sold off four acres and also added a pool in 1969. Since they did not have a pipe organ, they filled in the floor grate to the pipe organ. Hennessy's family ran the engineering firm that worked with Johnson on several projects.
The property was subdivided in 1971 with
the house and eight acres sold to William S. and Ann
T. Gilbreath. Sold to interior designer Jay Spectre in 1983. After Spectre's death, the house
remained vacant for about three years. In 1994, the property was
sold to Bill Matassoni and Pamela Valentine who in 1998 did a
restoration. As of 2011 still owned by Bill Matassoni.
1956 - The Mann House, Philadelphia PA. Unbuilt.
1957 - The Jose M. Bosch House, Varadaro, Cuba. Unbuilt.
1962 - The Wylie Tuttle House, Stamford CT. Unbuilt.
1964 - The Henry C. and Patricia Beck House, 10210 Strait Lane, Dallas TX. 12000 sf. A mega-version of the Lake Pavilion that Johnson designed at his Glass House in New Canaan CT. An aging Mrs. Beck abandoned the site for two decades. In 2002 Mrs. Beck sold it to Laurence H. (Larry) Lebowitz and Naomi D. Aberly. Sold in 2008 to the Strait Managmen Trust, Kathleen J. Wu, Trustee.
architects Bodron+Fruit. They remade the north end of the
house, replacing it with a new kitchen, a family room and dining
area, a guest room, and service and staff areas. Elsewhere,
bathrooms were gutted, bedrooms were reconfigured, and the bronze
and steel balustrades were restored; there was a new pool pavilion with a
flat concrete roof. New landscape design by Reed Hilderbrand of
Watertown MA. Photos by Todd Eberle.
1968 - The James A. D. Geier House, Kugler Mill Road, in the Indian Hills area of Cincinnati OH. Commissioned 1965.
1968 - The David L. and Carmen Kreeger House, 2401 Foxhall Road, Washington DC. Converted to an art museum in 1994, the Kreeger Museum. Designed with Richard Foster. BW photos by Ezra Stoller/ESTO.
1979 - The Philip Johnson Pied-a-Terre, New York NY. Unbuilt.
1990 - The Andy Williams House, Beverly Hills CA. Unbuilt.
1991 - The Slat House, New Canaan CT. The project arose from a request for a potting shed for a small residential garden. It resulted in this tiny inspirational garden folly. Approximately an eighth of a sphere and 3.65 metres in height, this small wooden enclosure faces the owner's home with its curved face and the forest with its angled side. Unbuilt.
1994 - The Jerry L. Speyer House, New York NY. Unbuilt. Commissioned 1988.
1995 - The Peter B. Lewis Project, 2 separate guest houses, Lyndhurst OH. Unbuilt. The "Starfish House," also unbuilt. Designed as an addition to a Frank Gehry house. Commissioned 1991.
1999 - The John Buck House, Telluride CO. Unbuilt.
2001 - aka The House in Teaneck, Teaneck NJ. Unbuilt. Commissioned 1999.
2001 - The Ronald S. Lauder House, aka Oasis House, Israel. Unbuilt. Commissioned 1999.
2001 - The Alberto Fanni House, Turks and Caicos Island, UK. Commissioned 2000. Built.
Sources include: Virtual Globetrotting, Jim Hennessy, New Canaan Midcentury Modern Houses Survey, Second Treasure of Contemporary Homes (1959), Blockshopper Long Island, The Houses of Philip Johnson by Stover Jenkins and David Mohney, Philip Johnson: Recent Works by Jeffrey Kipnis; Philip Johnson: Life and Work by Franz Schultze.