Thursday, September 15, 2005

Johnson Proposal

Jeffrey B. Baker
Dr. Carpenter
Arch. Theory I
August 30, 2005

Philip Johnson

Reflecting on projects completed over the last three years, I have reached the apprehensive conclusion that my process has stopped developing. In short, I had become too comfortable with my design approach. With this realization in mind, I began photographing places and buildings I found of interest, reflecting on why I liked them, and determining what made these buildings successful. During this period of assessment I had the opportunities to visit both New York and San Francisco. Through these travels I discovered that one of my favorite buildings in NY and one of my favorite buildings in San Francisco where coincidently by the same architect. These two projects were also incredibly different from each other. The first of these two buildings is the AT&T Corporate Headquarters, located at the corner of Madison Avenue and 56th Street in New York. The second building is the 101 California tower placed on the block formed by Davis, Pine, Front, and California streets in San Francisco. Both buildings were created by Philip Johnson during his partnership with John Burge.
Philip Johnson had practiced architecture for sixty-two years before he passed away in late January 2005, at the age of 98. With over sixty years of architectural practice and previous work as an Architectural director at MOMA, it is natural to assume that his approach would develop and change and it did. He had a number of different partners through his career and to some degree his work can be categorized according to each specific partnership. Conversely, the diversity found in Johnson’s work within one partnership rather than merely the diversity apparent across partnerships is distinctive. The AT&T building in NY and the 101 California tower in San Francisco differ immensely, for example. Initially, I assumed that the NY project would have been near the beginning of his career and that the CA project to be near the end. Both projects, however, were developed within the same partnership during the late 1970’s and into the early 1980’s. Johnson’s diversity throughout his entire portfolio has inspired me to further study his work. As Paul Goldberger, in his introduction to Philip Johnson/ Alan Ritchie Architects, notes, “[Johnson’s] defining characteristic as an architect has always been his instinctive ability to sense new directions [1],” and a new direction is what I hope to acquire from this exploration.
End Notes
1. Goldberger, Paul. Philip Johnson/ Alan Ritchie Architects. The Monacelli Press, New York 2002.

Proposed Research List

· Jacobus, John. Philip Johnson. George Braziller Inc, New York, 1962.

· Knight, Carleton. Philip Johnson/ John Burgee Architecture 1979-1985. Rizzoli Press, New York, 1985.

· Miller, Nory. Johnson/ Burgee: Architecture. Random House, New York, 1979.

· Noble, Charles. Philip Johnson. Library of Contemporary Architects. Simon and Schuster, New York,


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