Image default

A talk with Philip Johnson (1968)

Philip Johnson’s now-iconic WRVA building was dedicated on May 29, 1968.

Following the ceremony at the station grounds, architect Philip Johnson, Bruce English (President of the Historic Richmond Foundation), and James Biddie (President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation) sat for a discussion working in historic neighborhods and on the topic historic preservation at that time.

The talk was recorded, and transcribed soon after. A raw copy of the back and forth is available here (358 MB), with a number of corrections marked in pencil on the typewritten sheets.

The prescient conversation touches on the ill effects of mass urban renewal, the importance of the neighborhood north of Broad, and the disastrous impact on urban planning of the time of designing for cars. A passage from Johnson where he describes his hope for “this younger generation” to “make your own new county” not enthrall with the highway system in particular stands in stark relief some 46 years later.


Philip Johnson
Philip Johnson

1, 2, 3
James Biddle, Philip Johnson, Bruce English


This is the first release from the collection of photos and documents that was crowdfunded and purchased from Cold Harbor Antiques.

Related posts

What’s that tower above Church Hill?

Kiet Vo

Ornamental Ironwork Tour, Sunday Nov. 17, 2PM – 4 PM

Church Hill People's News

A Look Back: Richmond Before Now on Instagram

Megan Rickman-Blackwood


tim h 11/02/2014 at 9:48 PM

I love the subject. I’ll be back commenting as soon as I make the time to read the transcript and compose an opinion.

Tim H 11/03/2014 at 4:30 PM

I managed to download and read the dialog and while I found it interesting, I discovered it wasn’t what I was wishing for. I had originally expected, or hoped for, a diatribe against the unsustainable living patterns of that failed American experiment of suburban living, with its need for long driving commutes for work, groceries and recreation and the isolated nature of subdivision housing decreasing the community experience.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.