Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Philip Johnson: Through the Glass Curtain Wall

The passing of architect Philip Johnson (1906-2005) feels big to me. He gleefully created and burned bridges between high modern architectural style and whatever he felt like paying attention to next. Some people considered him an intellectual opportunist. Maybe he was, but I choose to think of him as an exemplary American creative force who tended to stay wedded to an idea just long enough to rethink it, and he had to rethink some pretty big ideas in his life.

Maybe he wasn't the best architect of the last 100 years. But I've lived and worked in the shadow of several Philip Johnson buildings. Though I may not have enjoyed them all, I was never disinterested in looking at any of them. His artistic presence and decisions have and will continue to challenge our ideas about tradition, shelter, and commerce. Sometimes I wonder if he was as much a conceptual artist as he was an architect.

A good story from the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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