Hersey and Kyrk Volkswagen Bus

Tracking the Hersey and Kyrk VW Bus

Last year Nathan Sheppard wrote about the collection of drawings by Bill Hersey and John Kyrk and noted the value of analog drawings in a digital age. As an architecture student myself, I share his perspective. But since the drawings are back on the table, perhaps we can dig a little deeper and find out more about the life and work of these unique illustrators.

The drawings arrived in 10 large rolls, with dozens of projects rolled together in each one. Nathan went through these and described the contents by roll, listing about a dozen projects. Over the past few months it has been my task to separate the drawings into discrete projects to make access easier. At the same time, I have tried to identify as many projects as possible, a task made difficult by the lack of notation on the drawings, the unbuilt nature of most of the projects, and the scarcity of published works to reference. I had to rely primarily on visual connections to link drawings to built works and even to other drawings, at times thinking like a designer to recognize when two ostensibly different projects were actually different iterations of the same building.

Hersey and Kyrk Rendering

The drawings the duo produced are undeniably beautiful, although so many of the drawings in the archive’s collections are. What sets the Hersey and Kyrk collection apart from the others is that so far it is the archive’s only collection of a rendering office rather than an architecture firm. Hersey and Kyrk produced renderings for a great variety of architects and brought to life the visions of Charles W. Moore, William Turnbull, and Robert A. M. Stern, to name a few of their repeat clients.

“To convey advance realisations of proposed structures, to aid in crystalizing ideas in the architect’s mind and to interpret the architectural significance of existing structures,” as described by Hugh Ferriss, perhaps the most famous and influential architectural renderer of contemporary American history, are three objectives of architectural rendering.¹ Bill Hersey and John Kyrk excelled at each one. The first objective is why architects hire renderers, since they possess the advanced drawing skills to transform sketches into convincing perspectives or axonometrics. Going above and beyond that task is the hallmark of a good renderer or designer, and Hersey was known to “simply draw something else, possibly something better and perhaps closer to what [the client] really had in mind.”² As for delineating existing structures, Hersey and Kyrk drew famous buildings by the full spectrum of architects, including Thomas Jefferson, Carrère & Hastings, Greene & Greene, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Louis I. Kahn.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Hersey and Kyrk was how they worked. They owned a Volkswagen bus that they drove across the country to meet clients to work on drawings.² Not only did it take them from coast to coast where their projects were most concentrated, but it also served as a space where they sometimes drew, sometimes cooked (they had equipped it with a stove), and sometimes slept (at odd hours). This freedom prevented them from being tied down to one area and is reflected in the geographic locations of their drawings:

Map of Hersey and Kyrk's projects
Map created with Palladio showing geographic distribution of 93 unique projects with identified locations (dots are sized by frequency). Not represented are 3 projects in West Germany (for Urban Innovations Group) and Charles Moore’s Kwee House in Singapore.

Although architectural renderers often travel to work on remote projects, each office’s body of work is typically highly concentrated in the region where their studio is located. Hersey and Kyrk’s mobile studio allowed them to work with Bob Stern on the east coast while simultaneously working with Turnbull on the west coast and it accounts for how they managed to keep up with Charles Moore’s numerous relocations.

New Orleans is represented especially well: the earliest of 15 identified projects in New Orleans is the CWM Piazza d'Italia competition entryPiazza d’Italia competition entry from Charles Moore (as part of Moore, Grover, Harper) produced in 1975. The entry evolved into a design developed by Moore as part of Urban Innovations Group at UCLA in collaboration with New Orleans architect August Perez III. Hersey and Kyrk’s connection with Moore took them through the Piazza d’Italia’s completion and led on to several commissions for New Orleans projects by both Moore and Perez, most of which were designed for the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition.

Hersey and Kyrk New Orleans drawing
Greater New Orleans Bridge (now Crescent City Connection) and New Orleans skyline.
Hersey and Kyrk New Orleans drawing
Perez Associates’ renovation and expansion of New Orleans’ historic Le Pavillon hotel.
Hersey and Kyrk New Orleans drawing
Early design for the renovation of the Federal Fibre Mills warehouse (now condominiums) into a pavilion for the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition.

Hersey and Kyrk’s prolific renderings do not comprise the entire collection. A wine label design for William Turnbull’s winery and their many calendar designs reflect their strong interest in type and calligraphy. Owners of a printing press and multiple cameras, they also produced hand prints and practiced photography. Still, their business was rendering and the rendering business was changing. They were early adopters of new visualization technology and some of their later works contain early digital 3D model printouts; a letter that Bill Hersey wrote to Charles Moore in 1988 reveals the new work flow. Accompanied with it is a selection of images advertising their (better “than ever before”) work:

It was quite a privilege to see how their practice had evolved since 1975, the year they first produced a book advertising their services:

Sadly, the partnership ended when Bill Hersey passed away in 1989. I have found that the drawings here at the archive reflect at least 200 unique projects produced in under two decades. Everything from single family residences to high rises and campus master plans are represented. Although the drawings have been processed, many still remain unidentified and there must be more drawings stored away elsewhere since the majority of this collection is made up of sketches; we only have a handful of fully rendered presentation drawings. Additional drawings bearing Hersey’s signature can be found in the Charles Moore and Urban Innovations Group³ collections and a selection of their drawings can be found on John Kyrk’s website, as well as some of his most recent illustrations.

  1. Ferriss, Hugh. “Rendering, Architectural.” The Encyclopædia Britannica (1929), quoted in Placzek, Adolf,
    Architectural Visions: The Drawings of Hugh Ferriss (New York, N.Y.: Whitney Library of Design, 1980), 12.
  2. Phelps, Barton. “Bill Hersey (1940-1989) [obituary].” L. A. Architect, 1989: 4. ProQuest (292401)
  3. Finding aids for Urban Innovations Group and the William Hersey and John Kyrk archive are not yet available.

Visit to the General Land Office

The Library Staff Council arranged a tour of the General Land Office for the staff of the University of Texas Libraries in late July. Several members of the Architecture and Planning Library and Alexander Architectural Archives had the opportunity to attend.  It was a fantastic tour!

The GLO is a great resource if you are looking for information about land settlement and ownership in the state of Texas. Many of the resources, we discovered, are also available online. They have digitized nearly 40,000 maps. While the maps are for purchase, it’s a quick way to search their collection. Researchers may also search in the Land Grants Database – again many of these resources are available digitally. Finally, I wanted to link to their list of collections and to their list of services, which includes information about  fees associated with licensing and digitization of images. If you have any questions about the materials at the GLO, do not hesitate to contact them – they are friendly and incredibly knowledgeable.

Please note: The photos are of the former General Land Office on the Capital Grounds. The current office is near the Bullock Museum.

Friday Finds: The Books of a Thousand Homes vol. 1

Smith, Henry Atterbury, ed. The Books of a Thousand Homes.  vol. 1. New York : Home Owners Service Institute, 1927.

ThousandHomes_1
Front Cover

While doing a little bit of research on  our collection, I came across this title and was intrigued by it – The Books of a Thousand Homes. I thus pulled it from Special Collections this morning. (The book was also reprinted by Dover, as 500 Small Houses of the Twenties.) When I pulled our copy from the shelf, I was delighted by the house on the cover. I also loved that reproductions of blueprints are included in the section, “From Plan Book to Finished Home.”

The AIA Historical Directory of American Architects has a brief biography of the editor,  Henry Atterbury Smith. The Acknowledgement by the President of the Home Owners Institute, preceding the collection of plans and drawings, provides greater background on Smith. He writes:

Henry Atterbury Smith has become internationally known for his unusual and successful work in the development of practical forms of multi-family housing, being the originator and designer of the open-stair type of apartment and tenement housing the masses at low rental. The East River Homes designed for Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt, Sr., at a cost of over $2,000,000 to house originally 400 tubercular families, are a monument to his efforts. (Acknowledgment)

While the book is valuable for those researching American homes in 1920s and 1930s, I am curious about the origins and history of our copy. When we think about books as objects, we see them as  distinct from other copies of the work, each with their own histories and stories – though sometimes hidden. For this reason, I am always excited to stumble upon one of the works for which we know the former owner.

The Books of A Thousand Homes at Architecture and Planning:

Several different types of tape have been used to repair the pages of A Thousand Homes, while other significant tears were left untreated.  Someone created a thin bookmark that I missed on my first pass through the book, because it was tucked neatly into the spine. The note on the bookmark reads: 110 comfortable + pretty.  Some of the pages have been torn away and are missing, while  several of the houses have been checked in pencil. A book plate for the Library of the University of Texas has been affixed to the front cover’s end papers and the call number is Dewey, suggesting it was not a recent addition to the collection. No record exists for how this copy came into our collection, however. I can only speculate about who might have been responsible for the additions and subtractions to this work.

New Books: The Letters of Philip Webb

Webb, Philip. The Letters of Philip Webb.  Edited by John Alpin. 4 vols. New York: Routledge, 2016.

I was so pleased to see the edited volumes of The Letters of Philip Webb arrived this week. The letters are organized chronologically in four volumes: 1864-1887, 1888-1898, 1899-1902,  and 1903-1914. There is also an extensive index to help navigate the letters by people, place, or topic.

John Alpin, the editor of the volumes, writes:

This four-volume collection of letters comprises a comprehensive selection from his surviving correspondence, little of which has previously been published. As well as revealing the range of Webb’s professional endeavours and the value he invested in a number of close friendships, the evidence presented in his letters confirms his position as a key member of the Morris circle. (Preface, ix)

I spent a bit of time this morning reading through some of the letters. Many of the recipients of Webb’s letters were familiar names: John Ruskin, Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Richard Lethaby, William Butterfield, and members of the William Morris family.  For example he wrote letters to Jane, Jenny, and May Morris while they were away in Italy in 1877.  One of my favorites though is an exchange about the landscape at Kelmscott with Jane Morris (Letter 43 in volume 1, 1871).

 

New Books: Stefan Sebök

Dubowitz, Lilly. In Search of a Forgotten Architect: Stefan Sebök 1901-1941. With essays by Èva Forgács and Richard Anderson. London: Architectural Association, 2012.

While looking through book catalogs on recent architecture publications, I discovered this work on Stefan Sebök. Though the architect was unknown to me, I recalled that a couple of our patrons in the spring semester had interests in Hungarian architecture and El Lissitzky, respectively. His connections to László Moholy-Nagy, Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus, and Moscow further suggested that this work would be a welcome addition to our collections.

DubowitzLilly Dubowitz traces her journey through family memory (she is Sebök’s niece) and archives in Europe, Moscow, and the US, encountering both silences and truths. She was aided by archivists, scholars, and relatives of Sebök’s colleagues and peers. She writes of one aspect of her research, “Levente [Nagy] suggested that I should contact his cousin, Erwin Nagy, who had unearthed all the KGB files on his father’s trial and execution, which not only told him about the false charges, but also gave him information on his family about which he was completely unaware (as part of their interrogation prisoners had to give a detailed account of their whole family history). It was through this lead, and a visit to the KGB archives, that I was later able to discover not only Sebök’s eventual fate and details of his work in the Soviet Union but also many other aspects of his life.” (pg. 43) While not everyone may not be interested in the architecture of the Modernists, the book offers a narrative on discovery through archival research. The work is also heavily illustrated with the materials Dubowitz discovered – drawings, photographs, letters, and government documents.

Friday Finds: Domestic Architecture

North American Construction Company. Aladdin Homes. Bay City, Mich. : The Company, [1916].

Special Collections houses catalog no. 28 (1916) from Aladdin Homes. The catalog offered “Readi-Cut Houses” in which one would purchase the material and plan directly from the company. The company offers several arguments for purchasing an Aladdin Home.

An appeal to modernity:

“The Aladdin System of Construction is Built on This Principle”: Modern power-driven machines can do BETTER work at a lower cost than hand labor. Then every bit of work that CAN be done by machines SHOULD be so done. The steel worker with a  little hack-saw trying to cut and fit the steel girders of the modern skyscraper should be no more out of place than the modern carpenter cutting sills, joists, and rafters. The skyscraper framework is cut to fit by machines in the steel mills, marked and numbered ready for erection. The lumber in the Aladdin house is cut to fit by machines in the Aladdin mills, marked and numbered ready for erection. The steel system is twenty years old – the Aladdin system eleven years old. (pg. 3)

Man’s ability to conquer nature:

“Waste- and What It Means to You”: Our buyers go actually into the woods, confer with the owners and cutters of the timber and buy the right lengths that will come out of the woods, through the sawmills and into our own mills in the right lengths. We don’t take raw material in lengths and sizes as chances to come, but as it should come to conform to our standards. In many instances the cross-cut saw in the hands of the woodsman is directed by our needs so that no other saw is touched to the lumber at any time. (pg. 6)

An appeal to family:

The Thelma: Home! Who loves their home more than the American family? Every day, father is looking forward to the time when he can provide a home for his loved ones – a place of comfort and enjoyment, shelter and protection. Mother has it all planned, has everything arranged. Her highest ambition is a home and its comforts. And every mother should have a home. The children – the ruddy faced kiddies – are anxious too for the great day. They want a home of their own and will love it and prize it as much as mother and father.

To this type of American family is dedicated the Aladdin home. (pg. 15)

Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University maintains the company’s archive and has digitized the catalogs and additional records, if you find ours intriguing.

Enger, Kristen. Hytta Mi. Oslo: Mittet & Co., [1946].

I discovered Enger’s work near the Aladdin Homes and was intrigued by the log cabin on its cover. Google Translate informs me that Hytta Mi translates from Norwegian to My Cabin. The work is a collection of 65 cabins designed by architects for summer, weekend, hunting, or fishing cabins. Most of the designs have the rustic exterior of log construction; however, a couple appear to have the clean lines of  mid-century design.

 hytta_mi

New Books: Palladio

Architecture and Planning recently received two texts assocciated with recent exhibits on Andrea Palladio from the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Palladio Museum, respectively.

Mortensen, Marie Bak, ed. Palladian Design: The Good, The Bad and The Unexpected. London: RIBA, 2015.

RIBAPalladioGuido Beltramini, who is one of the editors of Jefferson and Palladio (below), Pier Vittorio Aureli, and Daniel Maudlin each contribute a short essay to the catalog. Mortensen notes that each author was selected to offer a specific reading of Palladio’s work and influence. She writes, “The contributed essays are not beholden to the exhibition’s raison d’être. Rather, they are intended as fresh contributions to a continuing polemical conversation around Palladio and Palladianism, which extends beyond the curated confines of any single exhibition project.” (Mortensen, Charles Hind, and Vicky Wilson, “Introduction,” 9.) The catalog primarily focuses on the content of the exhibit itself. Accordingly, “Through three themed sections this exhibition introduces Palladio’s unique design principles and explores the very different ways in which they have been interpreted, copied and re-imagined, and how they continue to inspire architects today.” (“Palladian Design:  The Good, the Bad and the Unexpected,” 22.) The three themes include Revolution (subset themes: Andrea Palladio: Reinventing Antiquity; The Rise of Anglo-Palladianism; Spreading the Word), Evolution (subset themes: Bending the Rules; From Architectural Ideal to a Choice of Style; Statement Architecture; Pattern Book Architecture), and Eternally Contemporary (subset themes: The Comfort of the Familiar; Postmodern Palladianism; Abstract Palladianism).

Beltramini, Guido and Fulvio Lenzo, eds. Jefferson and Palladio: Constructing a New World. Vicenza: Centro internazionale di studi di architetttura Andrea Palladio; Milano: Officina Libraria, 2015.

I have not been lucky enough to see Palladio’s work in person; JeffersonPalladiorather, my engagement with his architecture has been through the lens of Thomas Jefferson. I was, thus, excited to see Jefferson and Palladio: Constructing the New World come through our new books. Beltramini and Lenzo, write, “The ‘seasons’ of the relationship between Jefferson and Palladio are revisited, focusing on the thread of affinity and a shared vision in their project to build a new world based on the example provided by the ancients.” (“Preface,” 10.) The work includes numerous articles with contributions by James S. Ackerman, Richard Guy Wilson, and Bruce Boucher. The book also includes a photo essay by Filippo Romano and documentation of the works designed by Jefferson.

New Books for Summer Reading

This week we received quite an assortment of new books. To follow are the ones I am most excited about, but you should stop by the new books table at APL to find one that excites you!

American Furniture 2015. Edited by Luke Beckerdite. Lebanon New Hampshire: Chipstone Foundation and University Press of New England, 2015.

AmericanFurnitureThis year’s American Furniture includes two articles on sulfur inlay, an article on Barnard Eaglesfield, and one announcing a new research project at the Chipstone Foundation on John Widdifield. According to the Chipstone Foundation:

The collector who acquired the book [notebook of John Widdifield] has generously allowed the Chipstone Foundation to publish it in this volume of American Furniture and make it, along with a keyword searchable transcription, available on the foundation’s website, www.chipstone.org, and that of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Widdifield’s notebook will also be designated as an ongoing research project on Chipstone’s website, thus allowing scholars, students, and others to publish work related to that manuscript. This introduction to the book is intended to begin that dialogue. (“The Notebook of Philadelphia Joiner John Widdifield,” 17.)

I could not find the digitized material on Chipstone; however, the Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture, University of Wisconsin does have the digitized copy available with full text searching. If you are interested in early American furniture, the notebook and larger project  might be of interest to you.

Taut, Bruno. The City Crown. Translated and edited by Matthew Mindrup and Ulrike Altenmüller-Lewis. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2015.

Mindrup and Altenmüller-Lewis  write: The texts and images in thisTautCrown translation are organized to retain the original format of the book – a composition of layers intended to guide the reader to understand the efficacy of his city crown proposal. Mindrup and Altenmüller-Lewis continue: As a work, we hope this first English translation of Tuat’s seminal anthology will become a critical text in architectural studies on the history of European Modernism, urban design theory and Taut’s oeuvre in general. (Preface, xii)

In addition to the translations of the works of Bruno Taut, Paul Scheerbart,  Erich Baron, and and Adolf Behne, the editors also wrote an introductory essay and afterword.

Köhler, Thomas and Ursula Müller. Radically Modern: Urban Planning and Architecture in 1960s Berlin. Berlin: Ernst Wasmuth Verlag, 2015.

RadicallyModernRadically Modern is the publication that accompanied the exhibit at Berlinische Galerie. Müller writes:

The focus is on the implementation, in both halves of the city, of modern planning objectives which – for all the heterogeneity and the efforts made during the Cold War to draw distinctions – can be interpreted today as emphasizing common ground between the two cultures of construction. Deeply unsettled by the events of the Second World War, and visually confronted by urban destruction, planners and architects rigorously refused – apart from a few exceptions – to rebuild the traditional city. (Introduction, 18)

The catalogue is extensively illustrated with archival materials, photographs, and models. Additionally, nine essays explore the topics- Risen from Ruins, Urban Spaces/Urban Dreams, Techno-Geometries, Serial Diversity, Large Housing Estates and Oppositions.

AASL Seattle 2016

This past March several members of the staff from the Library and Archives attended the Association of Architecture School Librarians Annual Conference held this year in Seattle with ARLIS/NA and VRA. Beth Dodd, Katie Pierce Meyer, and myself were all part of the programming committee. We were charged with organizing the conference sessions, which included both traditional sessions and lightning rounds. The topics included: Building New Models: Library as Learning Lab; Engaging the School: Making Scholarship Visible; Co-constructing and Documenting Place; and Evolving Architectural Collections and Connections.  Stephanie Tiedeken had the chance to present her capstone project on Islandora, a data asset management system, while I spoke about a DH project, Still Looking for You, which I worked on at Lehigh University.

In addition to the conference sessions, we also had the chance to explore Seattle, both on our own and with guided tours. I attended the tours: University of Washington Campus Architecture Tour: “Building a Polyvalent Campus, 1895-2015″ and “Pike/Pine: Change on a Urban Scale.” The latter was led by the Seattle Architecture Foundation Tour Guide.  I greatly enjoyed the Pike/Pine tour which examined the challenge of preserving the neighborhood identity and fabric in the face of urban renewal and the changing demographic of residents.

Katie and I also made the pilgrimage to see Hat ‘n’ Boots. We spent months talking about visiting this restored example of roadside architecture, now part of a neighborhood park!

HatBoots

 

Friday Finds: Grotesque Architecture or Rural Amusement

Wrighte, William. Grotesque Architecture; or, Rural Amusement: Consisting of Plans, Elevations, and Sections, for Huts, Retreats, Summer and Winter Hermitages, Terminaries, Chinese, Baths, Mosques, Moresque Pavilions, Grotesque and Rustic Seats, Green Houses, &c. Many of which may be executed with Flints, Irregular Stones, Rude Branches, and Roots of Trees. The Whole Containing Twenty-Eight New Designs with Scales to Each. To which is added an Explanation with the Method of Executing Them. London: J. Taylor, 1802.

Wrighte_Frontispiece

April is World Landscape Architecture Month, and I realized today that I have nearly let April slip by without recognizing it. I thus selected William Wrighte’s work which includes designs for follies, bridges, baths, and water features. The style of the designs reflects rustic and Gothic architecture as well as an influences from Eastern cultures. Each plate is accompanied by a brief description to aid in the construction of the structures with tips on its ornamentation or siting.

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