10 Timeless Designs by Philip Johnson

To be an admirable designer, one must have a mix of both creativity and practicality. In the world of architecture, only a few names are able to master this. They think out of the box and translate their ideas into groundbreaking designs characterized by sustainability and longevity. One of them is Philip Johnson.

A prominent personality in global architecture, Philip Johnson started building his name when he became the director of Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at the very young age of 26. Ten years after, he designed his first architectural project, the Ash Street House.

Modern architecture has always been Johnson’s advocacy—promoting the works of Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius. He returned to Harvard in 1940 to study architecture with Marcel Breuer. Johnson saw his potential realized when he created the most iconic designs that would define his career.

Here are some of the designs that define different architectural movements in the career of the first Pritzker Architecture Prize winner:

1. Crystal Cathedral

Location: Garden Grove, Orange County, California

Year built: 198

Collaborated with: John Burgee

Other information: It stands at 39.01m with 10,000 panes of glass beside Richard Neutra’s Tower of Hope; seats 2,736 people. It is considered as the largest glass building in the world and it houses the largest instrument in the world, the Hazel Wright Memorial organ.

Image source: Thousand Wonders


2. Lipstick Building

Location: New York City, USA

Year built: 1986

Collaborated with: John Burgee

Other information: 34 stories; Its name was inspired by the building’s shape (ellipse) and color (red granite and steel exterior) or a lipstick. It has 34 stories.

Image source: Paul Piazza Architect


3. Glass House

Location: New Canaan, Connecticut

Year built: 1949

Collaborated with: Philip Johnson

Other information: One of the first buildings to include four exterior walls made of glass, and is 55 feet long and 33 feet wide, with 1,815 square feet. It includes a 49-acre pastoral landscape with 14 structures including a Painting Gallery, Sculpture Gallery, Library, pond pavilion, and more.

Image source: Penccil


4. Thanks-Giving Square

Location: City Center District of downtown Dallas

Year built: 1976

Collaborated with: Gabriel Loire

Other information: The highlight architectural piece inside the complex is the nondenominational chapel with 73 panels of stained glass.

Image source: Unvisited Dallas


5. Chapel of St. Basil

Location: University of St. Thomas in Houston

Year built: 1977

Other information: A cube, a sphere, and a plane were used to complete its design.

Image source: Payne and Ladner


6. David H. Koch Theater

Location: Manhattan’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Art

Year built: 1964

Other information: Previously known as the Johnson’s New York State Theater; houses the New York City Ballet for over 50 years; and serves as a home to various forms of performing arts like modern dance.

Image source: Shen Yun Performing Arts


7. PPG Place

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Year built:1981

Other information: Inspired by neo-Gothic style; glass and steel complex is composed of 231 spires, 40-story tower, 14-story building, and four 6-story structures; and the name was derived from its former anchor tenant PPG Industries.

Image source: Arch Daily (Flicker user Paul Provencher)


8. One Detroit Center

Location: Michigan, USA

Year built: 1993

Collaborated with: John Burgee

Other features:: 619-feet and 43-story tower; considered as a class A office building; overlooking the Detroit Financial District

Image source: Digital Journal


9. Elmer Holmes Bobst Library

Location: New York University

Year built: 1973

Collaborated with: Richard Foster

Other information: The largest library (stands at 12-stories and 425,000 square feet) in New York University; one of the academic libraries in the whole of USA.

Image source: Architect Magazine


10. Gate of Europe

Location: Intercambiador Plaza de Castilla, Madrid, Spain

Year built: 1996

Collaborated with: John Burgee

Other information: The twin tower has a height of 114 meters and 26 floors; second tallest of its kind next to Torres de Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Image source: Tư Vấn Xây Dựng Online

Johnson’s contributions to the world of architecture are indispensable. Without a doubt, Johnson has revolutionized the industry, and his name is forever immortalized by his iconic and timeless designs.