Thursday, January 27, 2005

Architect Philip Johnson Dead

Johnson lead a long and contradictory life. His extended flirtation with fascism and the Hitler regime was unconscionable.

From the standpoint of urban development his modernist and, later, post-modernist sensibilities shared one problematic characteristic: a general disregard of the context of the urban landscape. My "favorite" Johnson travesty is the Town Hall in Celebration, Florida with its superfluous columns that valorize the lack of democracy in the corporate planned community.

Johnson

Aside from the authoritarian political statement made by the building, it fails on the level of engendering usable public space and relating to the larger urban fabric. Whereas many of the other buildings in downtown Celebration enhance the pedestrian experience and create spaces of interaction and leisure, Johnson's building is a fortress, off-putting to passersby.