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Philip Johnson dies aged 98

Philip Johnson, the man described by many as the father of modern American architecture, has died aged 98.

The Harvard-trained architect only announced a formal retirement last year following a phenomenal 63-year career.

Johnson entered architecture late when in 1940, at the age of 34, he joined Harvard for professional training following a short career as a writer and museum director.

An early passion for architecture was most notably marked by the fact that he arranged, while at the Museum of Modern Art's department of architecture, the first trip to North America for both Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier.

Johnson completed his first major building aged 43, the Glass House, which was a study in his early commitment to the Modern Movement.

However, this interest in Modernism began to wane in the post-war years and by 1960, many of Johnson's designs reflected early Post-Modernism.

It was at this time that his projects became increasingly controversial, with many critics feeling uncomfortable with the ease with which he changed between styles and influences.

However, in 1978 came the crowning moment of Johnson's career when just a year after picking up the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal, he became the very first recipient of the $100,000 Pritzker Prize.

Speaking in an interview in the 1950s, Johnson considered what he hoped his architectural career might hold.

'I like the thought that what we are to do on this earth is embellish it for its greater beauty,' he said, 'so that oncoming generations can look back to the shapes we leave here and get the same thrill that I get in looking back at theirs - at the Parthenon, at Chartres Cathedral.'

See next week's AJ for a full obituary.

by Ed Dorrell

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