Philip Johnson (1906-2005) was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1906, and in the years since has become one of architecture's most potent forces. Before designing his first building at the age of 36, Johnson had been client, critic, author, historian, museum director, but not an architect.

In 1949, after a number of years as the Museum of Modern Art's first director of the Architecture Department, Johnson designed a residence for himself in New Canaan, Connecticut for his master degree thesis, the now famous Glass House.

He literally coined the term "International School of Architecture" for an exhibition at MOMA.

Johnson organized Mies van der Rohe's first visit to this country as well as Le Corbusier's. He even commissioned Mies to design his New York apartment. Later, he would collaborate with Mies on what has been described as this continent's finest high-rise building, the Seagram Building in New York.

By the fifties, Johnson was revising his earlier views, culminating with a building that proved to be one of the most controversial of his career—the AT&T headquarters in New York with its so-called "Chippendale" top.

Joining forces with partner John Burgee from 1967 through 1987, their twenty year output has been nothing short of phenomenal.

The list of projects fills a volume, but suffice it to say, ranges from numerous high-rise projects such as International Place in Boston; Tycon Towers in Vienna, Virginia; Momentum Place in Dallas; 53rd at Third in New York; NCNB Center in Houston; PPG in Pittsburgh; 101 California in San Francisco; United Bank Center Tower in Denver; to the far flung National Center for Performing Arts in Bombay, India; Century Center in South Bend, Indiana; a Water Garden in Fort Worth, Texas; a Civic Center in Peoria, Illinois; the Crystal Cathedral in California; and a Dade County Cultural Center in Miami. There are many, many more.

Since 1989, Johnson, semi-retired, has devoted his time mainly to projects of his own, but still is a consultant to John Burgee Architects. His most recent design is for a new School of Fine Arts for Seton Hill College in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

The Pritzker Architecture Prize was established in 1979 for the purpose of encouraging greater awareness of the way people perceive and interact with their surroundings.

The first award is being given to Philip Johnson, whose work demonstrates a combination of the qualities of talent, vision and commitment that has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the environment. As a critic and historian, he championed the cause of modern architecture and then went on to design some of his greatest buildings. Philip Johnson is being honored for 50 years of imagination and vitality embodied in a myriad of museums, theaters, libraries, houses, gardens and corporate structures.

Jury Members

J. Carter Brown (Chairman)
Lord Clark of Saltwood
Arata Isozaki
J. Irwin Miller
Cesar Pelli
Carleton Smith (Secretary to the Jury)
Arthur Drexler (Consultant to the Jury)

Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.

Dumbarton Oaks is a wonderful refuge in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Buildings on the grounds include the ninetieth-century Georgian style mansion, built in the early 1800s with subsequent additions and modifications made throughout the twentieth century. The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (1959-1963) consisting of eight circular galleries, designed by architect Philip Johnson, is widely considered among the architectural masterworks of the twentieth century.

In 1920, diplomat Robert Bliss and his wife Mildred, prominent art collectors, developed Dumbarton Oaks, their estate from 1920-40. The rough grounds were transformed into gardens with elements of French, English, and Italian formal gardens, however, combined in a distinctive way by Beatrix Jones Farrand, who also worked on the private gardens of John Rockefeller, Jr. and the grounds at Yale University.

In 1940, the Blisses conveyed Dumbarton Oaks, together with a specialized art research library of 50,000 volumes and a collection of medieval and Byzantine art, to Harvard University. Today, the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is an international center for scholarship, providing resources for Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and Garden and Landscape Studies. Begun as a private collection by the Blisses in 1920, the library and collections include art, objects, artifacts, manuscripts, and rare books.

Because the Blisses were also lovers of music, they built a Music Room at the main house and hosted private concerts there, including several by musician friends, including Jan Paderewski and the composer Igor Stravinsky. The ceremonies for the 1979 and 1980 Pritzker Architecture Prize were held in this space.


Read Philip Johnson's Ceremony Acceptance Speech

Read Cesar Pelli's Ceremony Speech


dumbarton oaks

Ceremony Highlights

Full Ceremony