Interview: Ralph E. Johnson, FAIA and New Topography

by Thomas Fisher | Mar 10, 2016
It’s been fascinating for me seeing how your work has changed over the years. It strikes me that these three projects [shown on the following pages] are much more landscape-driven than your earlier work. What is the evolution in thinking that has led you in this direction?

Ralph Johnson, FAIA: When I remember back to my work in the ’80s, I think of Midwestern-oriented work. And since then Perkins+Will has grown tremendously. We have 25 offices now, and I’m working around the world and in different contexts. All of these buildings are contextual somehow, but it’s an evolving view and I’m open to other interpretations of context than simply the literal ones. With the Coast Guard project, it was about making the building and the land into one—melting the structure into the hillside like a hill town. In the case of the Shanghai Natural History Museum, it was about scaling a very large, almost half-million-square-foot building to an existing sculpture park. And at Case Western, the building stretches out horizontally to grab three axes connecting back to different areas of campus. It was the opposite of the Shanghai project—more about increasing the scale and impact of the building.

Read full article here.
Mr. Johnson has been a member of SAH since 1997.

Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.

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