Portrait of the Architect as a Young Man

Before designing the see-through glass house in New Canaan, Connecticut, the spiraling Chapel on Thanks-Giving Square in Dallas or the mammoth AT&T Building in New York City, Philip Johnson designed the University of St. Thomas - almost all of it.

"St. Thomas was Johnson's first big project," says Jim Parsons, a guide for the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance's walking tours of the university. "You can see many of the ideas that he would use later in his career."

An example is the Academic Mall, which displays the boxy modernism of Johnson's work and his use of large glass windows, which defined the PPG Building, Johnson's "glass castle" of Pittsburgh.

But perhaps most interesting is the Chapel of St. Basil. Planned as the campus centerpiece in the '50s, it was continually redesigned until its 1997 completion. "Between the geometric shapes, cube dome and angular designs, you see everything Johnson experimented with in the intervening 40 years," says Parsons. Tour begins at the Link-Lee Mansion.
Sun., Aug. 13, 6 p.m.

 
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