Philip Johnson&#39s Other Occupation: Landscape Architecture?

Philip Johnson’s influence on architecture throughout the 20th century is not possible to overstate. He introduced Ludwig Mies van der Rohe into the American consciousness, he became a single of the most renowned practitioners of the Intercontinental Style (then angered and confused critics with an abrupt mid-job shift into Post-Modernism), and he created one particular of the very best-acknowledged private homes in the final one hundred many years. His brand of glass-and-metal architecture—and his bespectacled appearance—are common to anybody with even a passing interest in structures and the folks who design and style them.

Still, even presented his fantastic fame and exhaustively documented lifestyle, it may be surprising to find out that the designer of the Glass Property and Manhattan’s AT&ampT Creating regarded as himself an architect of the landscape as properly as one particular of glass cathedrals and columned functionality spaces, once stating that for him, architecture and landscape architecture were “one artwork.

For an architect like Frank Lloyd Wright, whose philosophy of natural architecture led him to develop some of his most popular styles virtually into the landscape, that sort of assertion would make sense as a rational extension of his renowned estimate on the partnership between a house and its land: “No home should at any time be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and property should reside jointly each and every the happier for the other.”

For somebody like Johnson, although, with his Modernist track record, iconoclastic bent, and enjoy of glass-and-steel development, the sentiment both displays an sudden side of the architect’s sensibility, a deliberate provocation, or the two.

ghinterior.jpgPicture through The Glass Home

Johnson definitely was fairly influenced by the rural Ohio landscapes of his youth, but over and above that there is certainly minor to advise a deep-seated adore of character seeking expression in landscape architecture. The fact that he did not begin his architectural career until properly into his 30s, merged with his vast-ranging lifelong interests in philosophy, music, and the visible arts, seem the hallmarks of a younger man who struggled to uncover an proper outlet for his restless, energetic intellect (a search that possibly led to—but does not excuse—his troubling involvement with Nazism), and who gratefully threw himself into his avocation as before long as he stumbled on it. It would seem that he’d have minor vitality still left to commit to the landscape as a style kind.

But if the man himself thought he was a landscape architect, then maybe it really is ideal to get him at his phrase. Right after all, under the broad Wikipedia definition of the discipline, which states that “landscape architecture is the design of outside general public places, landmarks, and structures to attain environmental, social-behavioral, or aesthetic outcomes,” he does squeak in. So maybe the concern that must be questioned is not “Was he a landscape architect” but rather “Did he have any aptitude at all for it?”

To response that query, it’s probably very best to start with a seem at what is inarguably his most successful produced landscape, the Glass Home in New Canaan, Conn.

floorplanimage.jpgGlass Residence site strategy by means of The Glass Home

Created in 1949, the greatly Mies-influenced Glass Home was made to provide as Johnson’s personalized home and, just as importantly, as a way of trolling the traditionalists like Wright, who, on getting into the home for the initial time, sniped, “Listed here I am, Philip, am I indoors or am I out? Do I just take my hat off or maintain it on?” Sited on what was then a good deal of 5 acres, amid the ruins of aged farmhouses, the home and its glass walls would occur to preside over the many modifications Johnson swept above the landscape as the estate expanded to forty seven acres and 14 properties over the years.

The most extraordinary of people modifications was the development of what Johnson named “occasions on the landscape”: the buildings and pavilions he constructed about the estate grounds as he hacked down trees and went about opening sightlines and creating vistas. Even though the high quality of the different buildings—a group that includes an strange underground artwork gallery and a lake pavilion—vary, the internet site as a total is generally deemed a success, and signifies a qualified job of landscape design and style by Johnson.

1024px-Fort_Worth_Water_Garden.jpgFort Well worth H2o Gardens by way of Wikipedia Commons

No matter whether he ever productively made yet another landscape project is a concern that can be partially answered by looking at a general public place by Johnson found in Texas, the 1974 Forth Well worth H2o Gardens. Meant as a cooling oasis in the heat sink of the town centre, the H2o Gardens consist of three pools of h2o, an aerating pool with fountains, a meditation pool surrounded by a stand of shade trees, and a waterfall pool with cascades that tumble down steep concrete actions into a central pond, all of which are surrounded by landscaped terraces and planters.

As a style, it’s very much of its time, its concrete kinds and rigid channeling of h2o a reflection of the paradoxically anti-city neo-Brutalism of city improvement in the 1970s, as inorganic and reflective of anxiousness about city existence as any of John Portman’s hermetically sealed company monoliths. The truth that it was prominently featured as a location in the dystopian Sci-Fi movie Logan’s Run places it in the same unhappy business as other contemporaneous Modernist hellscapes like Century Town (which by itself performed a starring function in one more bleak Sci-Fi characteristic of the nineteen seventies, the apocalyptic Conquest of the Planet of the Apes).

It’s not completely fair, of training course, to kind overarching judgments about an architect’s oeuvre from only two of the quite a few patterns made more than the training course of a prolific occupation that spanned in excess of sixty a long time. It is truthful, however, to say that if Philip Johnson is also to be regarded as as a landscape architect, his file is decidedly mixed.

· All Outdoors Week 2014 posts [Curbed Nationwide]
· All Philip Johnson coverage [Curbed National]

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