The Century Club in New York recently hosted a memorial celebration of the life of the late architect John M. Johansen organized by his daughter, Deborah Johansen Harris, and son, architect Christen Johansen. Christen, who collaborated with his father on later renovations and additions to various projects, read a touching tribute to Johansen that recalled his series of fast British sports cars and his ability to do “a handstand from a seated position in a lawn chair, or holding himself horizontally from a lamppost when the opportunity arose.” He remembered that John delighted guests to the New Canaan house “by setting his martini down on the window sill and, mid-conversation, vaulting out the window to the lawn below, reappearing moments later through the front door.”
There is some good news coming out of Oklahoma City where the effort to save the late John Johansen‘s iconic 1970 Mummers Theater has taken a positive—if tentative step—towards preservation. AN last wrote about the theater on May, 11, 2012 when a recent flood in the building seemed to doom an effort by a local group to purchase the facility and turn it into a downtown children’s museum. We’ve kept up with the preservation effort periodically over the past year and always heard that its was a hopeless cause and would soon be destroyed and replaced by a new building. But the building which Johansen himself said “might be taken visually as utter chaos” has a compelling joy in its elevation and plan that makes it unique and certainly the most important structure in Oklahama City.
John Johansen’s iconic Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City may be demolished in the next year. Built with a $1.7 million grant from the Ford Foundation, the so called “Brutalist” building was closed in 2010 due to flooding and a local Oklahoma City group has been trying to purchase it for a downtown children’s museum.