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Johnson, Conrad, 1978 - 1983

 Item — Multiple Containers

Scope and Contents

Architect Conrad A. Johnson delivered 4 lectures to the Black Experience in the Arts course, ranging from the years 1978 to 1983.

In his 1983 lecture, Johnson described what it was like to be a working architect in New York City. He helped found Ifill, Johnson, and Hanchard architectural design firm. One reason the firm was established was Johnson related how hard it can be for black architect to find a permanent position. Johnson's presentations showed slides of buildings he and his firm designed. He explained the types of academic departments, programs, and internships that exist to prepare students for a career as an architect. Johnson also told students about the type of regulations and roadblocks architects typically encounter in their work.

Besides talking about his career, Johnson spoke on more personal terms about his childhood growing up in central Harlem and his sincere belief that his designs could improve the lives of the people of the surrounding communities. He specifically discussed how his firm was responsible for the then-new Harlem location of the New York State building at 125th St and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard. He asserted that its beauty, and that it was designed by a local resident, had offered a sense of pride in the surrounding area.

He closed his presentation with a hands-on project where he had students break into smaller groups and design a 20 acre residential area that could contain up to 200 homes. He then had students explain how they developed their particular design and why. The tape sounds like the students were engaged and excited about their designs.

Johnson's lectures were held on 4/12/1983 (2015-0002/RR9), 2/10/1981 (2015-0002/RR53), 3/18/1980 (2015-0002/RR54), and 10/31/1978 (2015-0002/RR55).


  • Creation: 1978 - 1983

Conditions Governing Access

Links to digitized content are included in the finding aid.

Biographical / Historical

Johnson attended public schools in Harlem and served in World War II as an Army Air Force fighter pilot in the all-black 100th Squadron, which trained at Tuskegee Institute and earned many honors in North Africa and Europe. He earned bachelor and master's degrees in architecture at Harvard University and held many civic posts, including member of the board of 100 Black Men and the Network of Black Professionals. Mr. Johnson and his partners designed many buildings in his native Harlem, including the New York State Office Building on 125th Street at Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard. They also designed housing complexes in Baltimore and Lagos, Nigera.

In later years, Mr. Johnson was the chief of design and construction at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center from 1979 to 1982 and the chief review architect for Levien Rich & Company from 1982-1990. Conrad A. Johnson Jr., a founding partner of the architecture firm of Ifill, Johnson & Hanchard, died in July 1991 at the age of 71.

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4 Reels (Magnetic tape audio recordings ) : RR 9 1 reel, 0:55:26; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 53 1 reel, 0:50:48; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 54 1 reel, 0:56:45; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 55 1 reel, 0:59:45; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester.

Language of Materials

From the Series: English