Office of External Communications

Houston, TX 77204-5017 Fax: 713.743.8199

January 26, 2005

Contact: Eric Gerber
713.743.8189 (office)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Administrators at the University of Houston’s College of Architecture have been informed today (Jan. 26, 2005) that Philip Johnson, one of the nation’s most recognized architects, and a major contributor to the Houston skyline, has died. The following information is intended for use with any materials you are developing. The Johnson’s interview mentioned in this advisory can be viewed at: displayseries.asp?collid=298.


World-renown architect Philip Johnson designed a signature building on the University of Houston campus in the 1980s that today is home to the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture.

One of the last recorded interviews with Johnson was conducted by Joe Mashburn, dean of the College of Architecture a few years ago. Johnson and Mashburn met in the architect’s “glass house” in Connecticut and talked about life, architecture, Texas, Houston and his longtime friend Gerald Hines.

Mashburn asked Johnson what role landscape played in his designs.

“You know,” he responded in a raspy voice, “we’re the luckiest people in the entire world to be connected with the creation of our environment. A painter can make a pretty picture and do it on the walls, but goodness, what an architect can do with the same opportunities.”

Mashburn asked the architect to talk about his “showcase city,” Houston. “You have said that you saved your best buildings for Houston. How did your connections to the city begin?”

Johnson said when he landed in Texas, “I just loved it and I’ve always liked it best because Texas is a place, it’s more than a state, it’s a state of mind and if I didn’t live here I’d go to Texas to live.”

The relationship between Johnson and developer Gerald D. Hines covered a number of decades. Mashburn wanted to know why the two giants in their fields were so successful in their collaborations.

“Gerry, of course, was a man you’d love anyhow, because he was so understanding, and he was a kid, too, at the time,” Johnson said. “It’s hard to realize that people that are grown up now were kids once. I was awfully young, in fact I wonder if I wasn’t too young sometimes (when he started out as an architect).

“But Texas was so welcoming that I just couldn’t help it. And when he was first starting out, it wasn’t like now, you know. He’d go on, he was more enthusiastic than I was. We’d each build a part.”

Mashburn mused that the Johnson-Hines partnership was “a wonderful combination.”

Johnson agreed. “What a wonderful combination, and it’s hard to believe that a developer, who is the enemy usually of the architect, could be quite the opposite. He was an encourager and a friend and everything was ‘Come on, let’s do it better’ with him, you know.”

The College of Architecture has established and is currently funding the Philip Johnson Endowment to support the programs of the college.

“The endowment will bring top designers and architects to the students of the college,” said Mashburn. “It will also forever honor Philip Johnson for the influential architect that he was.”

Joe Mashburn, dean of the UH Hines College of Architecture, can be reached at 713-743-2400 or by e-mail at

For more information about the College of Architecture, visit

For more information about UH visit the university’s ‘Newsroom’ at