Considered a foremost influence of 20th century American architecture, Philip Cortelyou Johnson (1906-2005) was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He was curator of the Museum of Modern Art before following his passion for design. He created his first building at age 36.
"If you are going to be an architect," he said, "You'd better have a feeling inside that you can't help it, a calling."
For his master degree thesis, Johnson designed the famous Glass House (1949) in New Canaan, Connecticut, one of the most beautiful homes in the world. Designed for himself, the house was inspired by the work of Mies van der Rohe.
"All architecture is shelter, all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space," he explained.
Johnson's phenomenal 50-year career, includes the design of New York's Seagram (1958) and AT&T--now the Sony (1984) buildings, Yale's Kline Science Center (1962), and Houston's Transco Tower (1984). His Crystal Cathedral (1980) in Garden Grove, California for Pastor Robert Schuller was a masterpiece in modern design.
"A room is only as good as you feel when you're in it," he said.
The first architecture and design director of New York's Museum of Modern Art, Johnson was a mentor to talented upcoming architects. He won the first Pritzker Prize, architecture's most prestigious award in 1979 for his "imagination and vitality embodied in a myriad of museums, theaters, libraries, houses, gardens, and corporate structures."
"I hate vacations," he once admitted. "If you can build buildings, why sit on the beach?"
Follow your passion.