The Schlumberger Research Center Administration Building was Philip Johnson’s first non-residential building, completed in 1952. Now known by locals as “The Philip Johnson Building,” or “PJB,” it’s a single-story, steel-glass-and-brick building constructed over an underground storage/garage. The rectangular plan consists of perimeter offices organized around a central core that contains an open-air landscaped courtyard, glass enclosed conference room and library. Around the central core is a wide, skylight-covered corridor allowing circulation between the perimeter offices and bringing abundant natural light throughout the space. Each office has a solid infill wall of light grey iron spot brick on the interior corridor pierced by full height, cabinetry-quality doors made of oak. Exterior walls are brick below desk height with full height window walls above. Ceilings are 10 feet tall throughout.
Schlumberger left the campus in 2006. PJB was cut off from basic services and essentially abandoned for 11 years.
The design approach was to preserve the original use of the building as executive office space. The building was entirely reserviced to function as a stand alone building. Programmatical changes included replacing secretarial pool areas with collaborative meeting/lounge spaces. Hospitality spaces such as a kitchen and coffee bar were added. Special attention was made to preserving original fabric. Original steel roof fascias were uncovered and restored. Original millwork was hand sanded and bleached for a more contemporary palette. Ceilings, reveals, skylights, and original light fixtures were restored. Carpeting over the original vinyl tile was replaced with French quarry tile used by Philip Johnson in another project of the same period. Brick was extensively cleaned and repointed. Failed oversized glass windows were replaced. The timelessness of the plan, material and color palette and the connection to nature makes the building feel as contemporary today as much as it was groundbreaking then.