John M. Johansen was born in New York City in 1916. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College in 1939 and a Masters of Architecture degree from Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1942, where he studied under Walter Gropius (1883-1969) and Marcel Breuer (1902-1981). In 1967, Jean Ely noted that Johansen "was perhaps the most thoroughly indoctrinated, educated into the Gropius-Breuer framework of thought and design" out of the Harvard Five members. His design work includes residential, commercial, educational, ecclesiastical, and civic projects. His most acclaimed projects include the U.S. Embassy (1964) in Dublin, Ireland, and the Goddard Library (1968) in Worcester, Massachusetts.