Philip Cortelyou Johnson (July 8, 1906 — January 25, 2005) was an influential American architect. With his thick, round-framed glasses, Johnson was the most recognizable figure in American architecture for decades.
In 1930, he founded the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and later (1978), as a trustee, he was awarded an American Institute of Architects Gold Medal and the first Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 1979. He was a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. When Johnson died in January 2005, he was survived by his long-time life partner, David Whitney, who died only a few months later, on June 12, 2005.
Johnson was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He was descended from the Jansen (a.k.a. Johnson) family of New Amsterdam, and included among his ancestors the Huguenot Jacques Cortelyou, who laid out the first town plan of New Amsterdam for Peter Stuyvesant. He attended the Hackley School, in Tarrytown, New York, and then studied at Harvard University as an undergraduate, where he focused on history and philosophy, particularly the work of the Pre-Socratic philosophers. Johnson interrupted his education with several extended trips to Europe. These trips became the pivotal moment of his education; he visited Chartres, the Parthenon, and many other ancient monuments, becoming increasingly fascinated with architecture.