RSS   RSS 2.0   ATOM XML Sign up for our monthly newsletter:

February 28, 2013

On location with architect Michael P. Johnson.

ECDT5605
Architect: Michael P. Johnson. The Bradley residence, Scottsdale, AZ.
Photo: Bill Timmerman, Timmerman Photography, Inc.

“One percent of buildings are architecture,” says Michael P. Johnson. “The rest are just stuff.” Standing six foot four with a mop of white hair and a lot to say, Johnson has a rugged elegance that’s a lot like the juxtaposition between his sleek streamlined buildings and the rough terrain of the Arizona landscape. He drives a red pickup, drinks his coffee black and likes his scotch on the rocks. He’s married to the documentary filmmaker Suzanne Johnson, and the two of them live in a house that Michael designed in Cave Creek, Arizona. Inspired by Suzanne’s dream of living in a loft in New York City, Johnson gave his wife “a loft in the desert.”

6a00d8345173e769e2017c373378e0970b-800wi
Architect: Michael P. Johnson. The Johnson residence, Cave Creek, AZ.
Photo: Richard Mack

The Johnson house is set in a remote area north of Cave Creek, keenly attuned to the changing light throughout the day and subtle shifts of the seasons. It has luscious views of mountains, cacti and sky, and one of the few houses that can be seen is the Ellsworth house, which Johnson also designed (talk about taking control of your view).

_L7C6871
Architect: Michael P. Johnson. The Ellsworth residence, Cave Creek, AZ.
Photo: Bill Timmerman, Timmerman Photography, Inc.

The Ellsworth was one of the houses where we photographed the DWR March catalog, and we chose the space for its bold simplicity, balanced proportions and sleek industrial surfaces. In other words, we knew our furniture would look fantastic in a house designed by Johnson.

_L7C6872
The 1966 Chaise at the Ellsworth residence, Cave Creek, AZ.
Photo: Bill Timmerman, Timmerman Photography, Inc.

When Johnson designs, he demands absolute control of the project, including the furnishings and artwork, to ensure that the interiors are in harmony with the building envelope. The Ellsworth house has a hanging installation by Mayme Kratz and the original furniture included Barcelona chairs, arranged much like those in the Philip Johnson Glass House. The original lamp (also at the Glass House) is still in the house today, and the outdoor furniture is the 1966 Collection by Richard Schultz.

_L7C6884

_L7C7066
The Barcelona Collection at the Ellsworth residence.
Photo: Bill Timmerman, Timmerman Photography, Inc.

Another location we used for the DWR March catalog was the Bradley house, also by Michael P. Johnson. Situated on more than two acres in Scottsdale, Arizona, the sleek structure was designed for an art collector who selected Johnson for his use of scale. “It’s subtle but exactly what I wanted,” says the homeowner.

ECDT5651
Architect: Michael P. Johnson. The Bradley residence, Scottsdale, AZ.
Photo: Bill Timmerman, Timmerman Photography, Inc.

“Being an architect is like being on a collision course with clients,” says Johnson, “but this client appreciated the hard work this house took.” In the end, Johnson did compromise on one detail. Never a fan over overhangs, the client insisted on them and the architect relented. “Architecture is five percent creative, ninety-five percent hard work,” says Johnson.

ECDT5615
The Bradley residence, Scottsdale, AZ.
Photo: Bill Timmerman, Timmerman Photography, Inc.

ECDT5739
The client enjoying a Womb Chair in the Bradley residence.
Photo: Bill Timmerman, Timmerman Photography, Inc.

The client was a bachelor when he hired Johnson, but now he has a growing family, including a three-week-old baby boy whose first glimpse of the world (after being born at home) was the modern architecture of Michael P. Johnson. A great first impression, indeed.

IMG_0371
Photo: Gwendolyn Horton

Michael P. Johnson, shown above, in one of the three libraries in his own home. He created this space out of what was originally a dog porch. He says the pooches are fine with the change, and judging by their new digs (Corbu chairs in the living room) he’s probably right.

Learn more about Arizona's master of modernism at mpjstudio.com.

Comments

The Bradley residence is so minimal but effective. Such a statement, love it.

I was a former student under Michael at Taliesin West and can only say great things about him and his amazing work. He was able to beat/teach a sound amount of logic and sense into some pretty stubborn heads, mine included.

Amazing work. I love how he echoes the landscape around him with his buildings, especially how the windows become more sky.

In the discourse of architecture today, we find buzz words punctuated with ecological rhetoric sometimes in resistance to modernism’s ideology. Michael Johnson’s work demonstrates true respect for the natural landscape. By raising the houses on pilotis there is minimal disruption on the site which results in preserving the desert’s biodiversity more so than any other buildings claiming high-performance and energy efficiency but contributing to loss of biodiversity.

Your architectural genius is evident in everything that you create. We need more Michael P Johnson houses on the East Coast.

The comments to this entry are closed.