A native of Fort Worth, Texas, J.B. Johnson, son of J. Buford Johnson, a self-taught architect, began his studies in engineering at Texas A&M. After returning from military service in Japan, he shifted his focus to architecture, a field he naturally fell into, not only because of his father's passion for architecture, but by his own growing interests. Enrolling in the School of Architecture at the University of Texas he had the opportunity to study under famed architect, Harwell Hamilton Harris.
J.B.'s first architectural commissions began in his hometown of Fort Worth during the building boom of the mid '50s. In 1960 he moved to Mexico, where he joined Norman Alfe and family. He and Alfe had been associates in Fort Worth and were involved in remodeling and enlarging an old house in San Miguel Allende for a Texas client. They expanded their business endeavors beyond architecture by forming Artes de Mexico Internacionales, S.A. as the single largest furniture manufacturer of traditional Mexican furniture of the time. With showrooms all over the world, Artes furnished hotels, restaurants, and commercial complexes with rich Spanish and Moorish-influenced designs. As styles shifted away from traditional forms, JB once again returned to architecture where his career included the creation of exclusive, one-of-a-kind residences in Acapulco, Cuernavaca, and San Miguel de Allende, basically for the foreign colony. Among his early achievements was the residence of Los Ocho Caballos in Acapulco as well as his own house, in the hills overlooking Acapulco Bay. The residence would be described as "a home surrounded by lavish nature, interwoven by the skills of its architect."
By the mid-1980s he had once again risen to the pinnacle of his career as architect of such residential compounds as La Plaza del Obelisco in Cuernavaca, La Primavera in Las Brisas, Acapulco, and Lombardia, a series of 14 luxury houses in a prestigious gated community in the Santa Fe area of western Mexico City. Among his many architectural projects was the extensive renovation, in Mexico City, of the house of a former president of Mexico, and a condominium for a former head of state of a Central American nation. In Cuernavaca, among many others, were La Casa de los Tres Loros, Quinta Sur, El Balcon and the residential compound of a British antiques dealer. During this same period he created a series of Bird Palaces, large architectural sculptures of brass and glass, and won an ISID design award. Featured at Gump's in San Francisco they were inspired by famous buildings of the past such as the Crystal Palace, Chartres Cathedral, Santa Sofia and others.
JB has resided in Mexico for more than 50 years. His business and pleasure travels have taken him around the world, making possible his spectacular collection of architectural photographs with over 15,000 images, taken with his Hasselblad purchased from the legendary Hollywood photographer, Wally Seawell. Besides architectural photographs of almost the entire country of Mexico, his collection includes images from Europe, the Middle East, the Orient and Southeast Asia. Many of these were used in this 2009 publication of Churches of the Mayas, with English and Spanish editions. Many of his own photographs of his projects have been published in numerous books and magazines in both languages.
Of the joys in JB's life, the most important have been his love for his family and friends, reading and studying about and visiting new parts of Mexico and the many travel experiences around the globe with camera in hand.
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