Jeh V. Johnson, FAIA
Jeh Johnson was a path breaking African-American architect who taught architectural design in the Art Department at Vassar for 37 years (1964-2001), where he spurred the architectural careers of dozens of students, many of them women and people of color (who are still underrepresented in the field). He also designed many campus buildings, from the Susan Stein Shiva Theater to faculty houses, and the recently-renamed Jeh Vincent Johnson ALANA Cultural Center. Much of his architectural work has been in the service of social justice issues. Beyond Vassar, he co-founded the National Organization of Minority Architects, served on President Lyndon B. Johnson’s National Commission on Urban Problems (the so-called Douglas Commission), and worked with the AIA, of which he was named a Fellow in 1977 – the profession’s highest honor. He ran his own firm based in Wappingers Falls, and designed or refurbished local landmarks including the Poughkeepsie Day School, YMCA, Beulah Baptist Church, and Catherine Street Center and Library.
Given the centrality of Vassar and the Poughkeepsie area to Jeh’s work, we wanted to launch this research project at the college. We initially hoped to record interviews with Jeh about his work, but he was too ill, and he passed away in January of 2021. So the project has taken on new urgency as we honor a very beloved colleague and teacher, who was a towering figure in the field.
Participants: Yvonne Elet, Ed Pittman (VC ’82), Karen Van Lengen, Sam Dorf (VC ’22), Brenna McMannon (VC ’21), Sonia Santos (VC ’21), Riya Sirdeshmukh (VC ’20), Ian Shelley (VC ’22), Ben Volk (VC ’21)
Contact: Yvonne Elet