Philip Johnson, the 72‐year‐old architect whose recent skyscraper designs for New York. Pittsburgh and other cities have been among the most controversial new buildings of the decade, has won the first Pritzker Architecture Prize, a new $100,000 award established by the Hyatt Foundation.
The award, which will be given annually, is intended to honor “outstanding endeavors by a living architect or a group of architects,” according to Jay A. Pritzker, the Chicago businessman who runs the Hyatt Corporation and is president of the foundation. The sum of the award makes the Pritzker Prize the largest prize in the field of architecture given anywhere in the world.
Mr. Pritzker's family, which has diversified business interests including timber, publishing, real estate and manufacturing, is among the country's wealthiest. By pioneering the trend toward flamboyant hotels built around central atriums, the Pritzker family's Hyatt Corporation used architecture to become one of the nation's most successful hotel operators in the 1960's.
He Is Called the ‘Dean’
Mr. Johnson, who won the gold medal of the American Institute of Architects last year, was given the award for hi entire career's work. He was selected by a jury headed by Lord Clark, the English art historian, that also included J. Carter Brown, director of the National Gallery of Art; Cesar Pelli, dean of the Yale School of Architecture; Arata Isozaki, the Japanese architect, and J. Irwin Miller, former chairman of the Cummins Engine Company and a noted architectural patron.
The award, which includes a cast of a new Henry Moore sculpture called “Architectural Award” as well as the cash, was announced yesterday in a news conference at the Museum of Modern Art, sections of whose building Mr. Johnson designed in the 1950's and 60's. In making the presentation, Mr. Pritzker referred to Mr. Johnson as the “dean of American architects,” and said he was “doing more than anyone in the world to keep modern architecture lively and unpredictable. He is still leading architects a merry chase.”Continue reading the main story
Recent Work More Controversial
Mr. Johnson began his career in the 1930's as a critic and historian of modern architecture who championed the International Style, the austere style of glass and steel. He switched into the role of practicing architect after World War II, at first producing buildings strongly influenced by the International Style and its chief exponent, Mies van der Rohe, a period that culminated in his collaboration with Mies on the design of the Seagram Building in New York City.
He began to break away from orthodox modernism in the 1960's, and his work since then has moved steadily further from his origins. Among his most acclaimed works are his own house in New Canaan, Conn., the Glass House of 1949; the IDS Center, a multibuilding complex in Minneapolis, completed in 1972, and Pennzoil Place, a pair of towers in Houston with slantroofed tops, completed in 1976. Both of the latter buildings were designed in association with his partner, John Burgee.
More controversial has been the more recent work of Mr. Johnson and Mr. Burgee, in which the architects, seeking a further distance from the austerity of modern architecture, have plundered the architectural styles of history. The firm's scheme for the new headquarters of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company on Madison Avenue calls for a granite tower with a Renaissance‐inspired arched base and an immense pedimented top. A project for a new headquarters for PPG Industries Inc. in Pittsburgh calls for a mirror‐glass tower topped by turrets and inspired by the forms of Gothic.architecture.
At a news conference after the presentation yesterday, Mr. Johnson was asked about the PPG building. which has received mixed reviews from architectural critics. “It's not really medieval — nobody in Pittsburgh thinks it's medieval at all,” he said. “It's really the most modern skyscraper on the East Coast.”
The award will be formally presented at a dinner June 12 at Dumbarton Oaks, the Washington mansion whose museum addition Mr. Johnson designed in 1963.Continue reading the main story