Philip Johnson - Nominee

1906 - 2005

In 1930 Philip Johnson became founder and director of the Department of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art - the first museum-affiliated program in the US devoted to studying architecture as an art form. In 1932 he headed the landmark show ‘The International Style: Architecture Since 1922’ and, along with H. R. Hickock, wrote the book which accompanied the exhibit; it is widely considered the American public’s introduction of modern architecture, which emphasized glass and steel, form, function and structure over decoration. Curiously, Johnson did not actually become a degreed architect until 1943, but thereafter was extremely productive. His many buildings include Glass House and The Seagram Building (which he designed with famed architect Mies van der Rohe). By the mid 1960s he began to move from the modernist aesthetic towards post-modern architecture. From 1967-1991 he partnered with John Bungee for a period which included creation of the Minneapolis’ IDS Tower, Houston’s Pennzoil Place, The State Theater at Lincoln Center, the PPG Palace in Pittsburgh, The Crystal Cathedral in Southern California, and the AT&T Building in New York City. Johnson is 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 Post-Modernism, which was typified by the reintroduction of historical elements in contemporary architectural design. His many awards include the first Pritzker Architecture Prize for lifetime achievement and the highest honor in his profession – the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects. He did not officially come out until 1994. When he died a decade later at the age of 90 he was survived by his partner of 45 years, curator David Whitney.


Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Gay

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Nations Affiliated United States

Era/Epoch Cold War (1945-1991) Great Depression (1929-1939) Information Age (1970-present) Interwar Period (1918-1939) World War II (1939-1945)

Field(s) of Contribution






Commemorations & Honors

American Institute of Architects Gold Medal Awardee (1978)

First Pritzker Architecture Prize Awardee (1979)

American Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award Recipient (1991)

Bequeathed National Trust for Historic Preservation His Residential Compound (2005)

Time Magazine Cover Story (1979)


Related Videos

CBS Morning News Report on the Late Philip Johnson

Julian Schnabel at Philip Johnson's Glass House in 2017

Philip Johnson: Diary of an Eccentric Architect Trailer


Original Biography Author
Victor Salvo
Biography Edited By
Owen Keehnen
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell