5. Philip Johnson

Philip Johnson Subway station

The designs of architect Philip Johnson can be seen in many places throughout New York City above ground, but below the streets, there is one example of his work. A figure of the Modern and Post-Modern architect, Johnson is famous for designing Manhattan’s 550 Madison, the Seagram Building with Mies Van Der Rohe, additions to the Museum of Modern Art, and the David A. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. He also designed the New York State Pavilion for the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens.

His permanent subway fixture is an orange-clad, mid-century platform at 49th Street ( N/Q/R/W) station. In the 1970s, Johnson was hired by the Transit Authority to make this station more hospitable and visually appealing for riders. Johnson chose to cover the walls in orange glazed brick instead of white subway tiles, install a terrazzo floor, remove columns for a more open feel, and add floating benches. Other stations that were improved at this time were 42nd Street, 47th-50th Street, 57th Street, 60th Street and Bowling Green.