As the campus rebuilds, what happens to the work of Ernst Johnson, architect of many university buildings and former University of Kentucky educator? University of Kentucky's Design Library will host an exhibit honoring Johnson's work with an opening lecture and reception given by UK College of Design adjunct faculty member and architect Robert L. Kelly on Feb. 10.
A member of the UK engineering faculty, Johnson was the architect for many of UK's iconic "modern" buildings, including Funkhouser Building, Erikson Hall, the Student Center, Fine Arts Building and others. He began his legacy at the university with the design of the Student Center in 1937 and continued designing buildings, including Memorial Coliseum (1950), for the university until 1956 with his last work, Holmes Hall.
Johnson is said to have been influenced by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen and the international style of architecture. His design aesthetic was simple, composed forms with innovative patterns of brickwork.
Robert L. (Bob) Kelly holds a degree in architecture from UK, a master's degree in architecture from the Syracuse University program in Florence, Italy, and a doctorate in architectural history and theory from McGill University in Montreal.
Kelly has frequently served as an adjunct professor at UK over the past 25 years. He has volunteered as a community advocate for many years working to improve town and gown relations, student housing, infill, and redevelopment zoning and the quality of life in the neighborhoods surrounding the university.
Kelly’s lecture, "Rendered in Brick: The Modern Architecture of Ernst Johnson at the University of Kentucky," intends to educate people about the value of these buildings and to encourage the university and its master planners to consider saving them either through renovation for existing use or adaptive reuse without demolition.
An opening reception for the Johnson exhibit and Kelly's free public lecture will begin 12:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10 in Pence Hall, room 209. The firm Johnson founded, JRA Architects, will sponsor the reception.
The Johnson exhibit, which is free and open to the public, will be on display through Feb. 21, in room 200 of Pence Hall.