Magazine article The New Yorker

Shape-Shifter; Postscript

Magazine article The New Yorker

Shape-Shifter; Postscript

Article excerpt

In 1959, the Seagram Building was a shimmering new presence amid the stolid masonry of Park Avenue, but Philip Johnson, who designed the glass tower with Mies van der Rohe, was already established as America's champion of modernism. Johnson had been an architect for only a little more than a decade when he heeded Mies's call to help design the Seagram, but before he entered architecture school, at the age of thirty-four, he had started the department of architecture at the Museum of Modern Art, written "The International Style," with Henry- Russell Hitchcock, and curated several exhibitions that forced modern design into American cultural consciousness.

Johnson, who died last week, at the age of ninety-eight, didn't stay with the style of the Seagram. He was intellectually restless, and new ideas interested him more than consistency. And, while he produced his share of distinguished buildings--such as the Transco Tower, in Houston--his greatest piece of architecture was the transcendent compound that he designed for himself, the Glass House, in New Canaan, Connecticut. …

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