Category Archives: exhibition

Opening Reception: “To Better Know a Building: The Charles Moore House, Orinda, California”

Exhibt_OrindaOn behalf of the Alexander Architectural Archive, I would like to invite you all to the opening of their new exhibit, To Better Know a Building: The Charles Moore House, Orinda, California. The exhibit opens on Monday, October 19 and will be on view in the Architecture and Planning Library until March 20, 2016.

The Architecture and Planning Library and the Alexander Architectural Archive will host an opening reception on Monday, October 19 at 6pm in the Reading Room of Battle Hall. The opening address, sponsored by the School of Architecture in the lecture series, Goldsmith Talks, will be delivered by Kevin Keim, Director of the Charles Moore Foundation.

The Alexander Architectural Archive’s  Press Release:

The personal residence of renowned architect, author and award-winning architectural educator Charles W. Moore is the focus of the third installment of the Alexander Architectural Archive’s “To Better Know a Building” series.

The Charles Moore House at Orinda, California, was designed by Moore for himself and built in 1961. With its small footprint, the building was viewed as a quintessential expression of third bay region residential architecture.

“The site was bought one day on impulse simply because it seems full of magic,” wrote Moore in The Place of Houses (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1974). “Years before, a bulldozer had cut a flat circular building site, which had since grown grassy and now seemed part of the natural setting, like those perfectly circular meadows that inspired medieval Chinese poets to mediate upon perfection.”

The significance of Moore’s Orinda house is expressed by Kevin Keim in his book An Architectural Life: Memoirs and Memories of Charles W. Moore.

“In a decisive move of great clarity and wit, Moore broke from the shackles of modernist ideology,” wrote Keim. “It was astoundingly fresh. Modernism’s sacred flat roof was swept away and replaced with a pyramidal roof. Even more to the point, the house was a simple pavilion of banal materials, defying the convention that a building had to be monumental in order to be architecture.”

In a tragic circumstance, the home was, at some point in recent years, renovated so dramatically that the original structure has been all but consumed by new construction.

Throughout his career, Moore established firms across the country, developing collaborative relationships within and between practices, often involving students from his academic positions in his architectural work. He professional life was a blend of architectural practice, educational engagement, and authorship.

He also taught at six universities while simultaneously maintaining his architectural practice and writing. From 1965 to 1970, Moore served as Chairman, and then Dean, of the Architecture Department at Yale University. In 1967, he created the Yale Building Project, an ethically minded construction project for first-year graduate students. He stayed on as a professor once his term as Dean ended, until 1975, when he accepted a faculty position at the University of California, Los Angeles that included joining Urban Innovations Group (UIG), a teaching practice at the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Planning. In 1985, Moore took on his final teaching position as the O’Neil Ford Chair of Architecture, at the University of Texas at Austin.

An avid traveler, Moore documented his extensive travels through painting, photography and collecting folk art and toys. He was awarded the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education and the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal for the scope and importance of his contributions to architecture.

Charles Moore died in Austin, Texas, on December 16th, 1993.

The Alexander Architectural Archive — a special collection of the Architecture & Planning Library — has among its collections the Charles W. Moore Archives. The exhibit will present correspondence, notes, sketches, drawings and printed materials related to the design and construction of Moore’s private residence in Orinda, California.

“To Better Know A Building” seeks to explore buildings through the drawings and other visual items found in the archive and library, promoting the records of a single building. Plans, elevations and sections visually communicate design intent and can also be used as a vehicle in teaching through example.

An opening reception will take place at 6 p.m., Monday, October 19, in the reading room of the Architecture & Planning Library, located in historic Battle Hall. The event is free and open to the public. As part of the School of Architecture’s Goldsmith Talks series, Kevin Keim — founding director of the Charles W. Moore Foundation in Austin and author of numerous books including a forthcoming book on the Orinda house — will offer the opening remarks. Austin’s Pizza will be served while it lasts.

“To Better Know a Building: The Charles Moore House, Orinda, California” will be on view in the library’s reading room through March 20, 2016.

 UPDATE:

The reception was photographed by the Visual Resource Collection in the School of Architecture. Please visit their Flickr Album to see the photos.

On the Road with Charles W. Moore

A Selection of Watercolors and Drawings from the Alexander Architectural Archives

 

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Charles W. Moore. Photograph. aaa-cwm00038. Charles W. Moore Archives, Alexander Architectural Archive, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.

I confess that when I began this project, I knew very little about the architect Charles W. Moore (1925-1993). In the architectural history surveys, he is there as a representative of Post-Modernism. His Piazza d’Italia is often included among the works of Robert Venturi, the Team Disney Building by Michael Graves, Philip Johnson’s AT&T Building, and Aldo Rossi’s Modena Cemetery. For me, he was member of the tail end of survey.

Joining the staff of the Architecture & Planning Library and the Alexander Architectural Archives, I discovered that discussions often turn to Charles Moore. His extensive travel is often remarked upon, and that theme was also quite apparent in the works of Kevin Keim. I was struck by how often friends, students, clients and colleagues remembered his love of travel. Bruno Miglio, a client of Moore, recalls time spent in Rome with the architect:

In 1992, we met Charles in Rome. We dearly preserve in our memories the images of him in Piazza Navona enjoying the music and water at the Four Rivers Fountain, in Villa Giulia absorbing the mysterious fascination of the Etruscans, and on the Appia Antica painting a lovely watercolor sketch until a sudden April shower chased us away. The frugal, creative glory of Borromini at the church of St. Ivo charmed him for sure, and at the Trevi Fountain, Rose and I quietly watched him slowly pacing around the bowl of the fountain, deep in his own private thoughts and memories, or maybe just entranced by the musical refrain of the cascading water…. And in the evenings we would slowly roam Trastevere in search of a piazza where old architecture, ambiance, and good food would strike an honorable balance. (Keim, An Architectural Life, 131)

As I expand my knowledge and understanding of Charles Moore through his writings and Keim’s An Architectural Life, I connect most strongly with his love of place. Moore writes:

We seek with all these devices to make places. I take it that one of the things about a place is that it is distinguishable from other places because of the specific circumstances that created it, so that when you are somewhere you are not somewhere else, and so that the particular characteristics of a spot on the earth’s surface are in some way understood and responded to in making a place, which in its ordering of the environment is a function of the civilization which created it.  (Moore, “Creating of Place,” 296)

The watercolors and sketches below represent places. Some are specific, identifiable places; others are not, yet they still suggest the sense of being somewhere. I was surprised that many of the watercolors and drawings evoked a sense of loneliness within me. There seems to be a quietness to them, unexpected by someone initially only acquainted with the Piazza d’Italia.

Arranging the watercolors and sketches into galleries was challenging. It may surprise you that many of the works included were undated or unidentified. Thus, I could not necessarily tie them to specific experiences, projects, publications, or moments of travel. The narrative could not be linear. I settled, therefore, on a mixture of specific places: – Utah, France, and Guanajuato – and themes – Landscapes and Water, Urban Fabric, and Ruins.

Gallery One: Utah, 1951

Charles Moore: Each of us moves on an average once every five years to somewhere else we’re expected to be citizens of as interestedly and effectively as we were in the previous location. In this movement of people, just about the only thing that remains specific to places on the face of the earth is the land: the structures of the land and its particular characteristics. (Moore, “Creating of Place,” 296)

Gallery Two: Landscapes & Water

Charles Moore: Thin, silent glazes of undisturbed northern lakes reflect the heavens like hand mirrors for the gods. Forest streams glide through dense Appalachian growth. Plunging cascades in Venezuelan rain-forest waterfalls fill the atmosphere with mist, drowning the humid air with thundering silence. Fog banks arriving from the sea barely clear Irish coastal cliffs, then move inland to roll over hills and valleys like phantoms. Rains fall in a soothing drone and transform Tuscan cities of stone into watercolored mirages of pastel wetness. In Japan, water sweats up from thermal volcanic arteries collecting in steaming baths inches away from crystalline mounds of snow and ice. (Moore, Water and Architecture, 16)

Gallery Three: France

Except from a letter written by Charles Moore while on a tour through Europe, 1949: There’s just no way to tell you in a letter about the French food. We started with Escargots (snails), which were wonderful, and every meal since has been a delight- wine costs less per litre than gasoline. (Keim, An Architectural Life, 37)

Gallery Four: Urban Fabric

Charles Moore: Florence looked the way it did because of the important edifices which had something special about them, as well as all the other buildings which made up the urban milieu that made palaces possible. It is just as useful to take them together as to separate them. (Cook, Klotz, and Moore, “Interview with John Wesley Cook and Heinrich Klotz,” 203)

Gallery Five: Guanajuato, Mexico

Charles Moore: I am writing this in Guanajuato, a middle-sized town in the middle of Mexico, crammed into a narrow canyon, with just two narrow streets (one up and one down) in the bottom of a canyon, and with a maze of stepped pedestrian ways climbing up the canyon’s slopes through the most remorselessly picturesque townscape this side of Greece.  (Moore, “You Have to Pay for the Public Life,” 138)

Gallery Six: Ruins

Charles Moore: It is altogether likely that inhabitants themselves can be trusted to know where the real places on the planet are, to go to them, from Disneyland to the Athenian Acropolis and to send postcards back when the places have spoken to them, and they perceived, with great good feeling, that they were somewhere. (Charles Moore, “Principles and Enthusiasms,” in Keim, An Architectural Life, 283).

Bibliography

Cook, John W., Heinrich Klotz, and Charles Moore. “Interview with John Wesley Cook and Heinrich Klotz.” In You Have to Pay for the Public Life: Selected Essays of Charles W. Moore, edited by Kevin Keim, 167-207. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 2001.  Originally published in John W. Cook and Heinrich Klotz, Conversations with Architects (New York: Praeger, 1973), 218-246.

Keim, Kevin. An Architectural Life: Memoirs & Memories of Charles W. Moore. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1996.

Keim, Kevin, ed. You Have to Pay for the Public Life: Selected Essays of Charles W. Moore. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 2001.

Moore, Charles W. “Creating of Place.” 1984. In You Have to Pay for the Public Life: Selected Essays of Charles W. Moore, edited by Kevin Keim, 292-301. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 2001.

Moore, Charles W. “You Have to Pay for the Public Life.” In You Have to Pay for the Public Life: Selected Essays of Charles W. Moore, edited by Kevin Keim, 111-142. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 2001.  Originally published in Perspecta, 9-10 (1965): 57-97.

Moore, Charles W. Water and Architecture. Photographs by Jane Lidz. H. N. Abrams, 1994.

Kimbell Art Museum- Drawing Collection

A+ULast week, Katie Pierce Meyer received an advanced copy of Architecture and Urbanism’s  (A+U) special feature issue on the Kimbell Art Museum in Dallas Texas, which was designed by Louis I. Kahn (1972).  Much like the theme of this issue- highlighting the collaborative design process between Louis I. Kahn, Dr. Richard Fargo Brown, and the office of Preston M. Geren & Associates- this special feature was a collaborative effort between the School of Architecture, the Architecture & Planning Library, and the Alexander Architectural Archive.

The seed for the issue began with the archive’s exhibition series, To Better Know a Building. The first exhibit featured the construction drawings of the Kimbell Art Museum from the Preston M. Geren Drawings. Through the coordination of Professor Wilfried Wang, O’Neil Ford Centennial Chair in Architecture at the University of Texas School of Architecture, and Nancy Sparrow, the archive’s Curatorial Assistant for Public Servicesthis special feature issue came to fruition. Professor Larry Speck, The W. L. Moody, Jr. Centennial Professor in Architecture at the University of Texas School of Architecture, contributed an essay. Katie Pierce Meyer, the interim APL Librarian,  interviewed Frank H. Sherwood and Dewayne Manning, who both worked on the Kimbell project through the office of Preston M. Geren & Associates. The Alexander Architectural Archive contributed numerous drawings from the collection. In addition to the drawings included in the issue, the archive also holds structural, mechanical, and electrical drawings as well as photographs. Finally the Kimbell Art Museum and Carlos Jimenez from Rice University made contributions to the publication, photographs and an essay, respectively.

The library has not yet received a copy of this issue; however, it should hopefully be available on the new book table by late summer or early fall!

To Better Know a Building Exhibit: Little Chapel in the Woods

Little Chapel in the Woods
Little Chapel in the Woods

The Architecture & Planning Library and the Alexander Architectural Archive are pleased to announce the second installment in the To Better Know a Building series.  Buildings featured in this series are selected by popular vote and exhibited the Battle Hall reading room.  The Little Chapel in the Woods, designed by architects O’Neil Ford and Arch Swank, is this semester’s winning entry.  It will be represented by the original construction drawings and photographs from the Ford collection. These pencil on paper drawings are a fine example of the art of construction drawings.

The To Better Know a Building series seeks to explore buildings through the drawings and other visual items found in the archive and library. Working drawings, including plans, elevations, and sections, often communicate the realization of design intent and are ideal  vehicles in teaching through example. 
 Exhibit openings include remarks by architects, and observations are encouraged from attendees to help promote discussion in understanding both the building and the profession.

Brantley Hightower will help celebrate the exhibit opening by offering remarks about the Little Chapel in the Woods. Hightower is an educator, author and founding partner in the San Antonio firm HiWorks.  He received a BA and a BArch degree from UT Austin as well as a MArch degree from Princeton.

Attendees will also have an opportunity to vote for the next building featured in this series from a list provided by the Alexander Architectural Archive.

Please join us for the exhibit opening reception Monday, February 16 at 6pm in the Architecture and Planning Library reading room. Austin’s Pizza will be provided while it lasts.

To Better Know a Building Exhibit Opening: This Monday!

The Architecture & Planning Library and the Alexander Architectural Archive are pleased to announce a new series of exhibits in the Battle Hall Reading room starting this October! Join us this upcoming Monday, October 13th at 6:00pm for our opening reception.

The “To Better Know a Building” series seeks to explore buildings through the drawings and other visual items found in the archive and library with focus on working drawings. Plans, elevations, and sections usually communicate the realization of design intent and can be used as a vehicle in teaching through example.

The first in the series will feature the Kimbell Art Museum by Louis Kahn. The Alexander Architectural Archive has the original construction drawings in the Preston Geren collection. Preston Geren was the associate architect for the Kimbell Museum. These pencil on paper drawings are a fine example of the art of construction drawings.

The next building featured will be chosen by a vote by students, faculty, and staff in the UT Austin School of Architecture from a list provided by the Alexander Architectural Archive.

Exhibit Opening & Remarks by Larry Speck – Monday, October 13, 6:00 p.m.
October 13 – January 30
To Better Know a Building: Kimbell Art Museum
Architecture & Planning Library
Battle Hall Reading Room

Austin’s Pizza will be provided while it lasts.

See below for the official exhibition flier. We can’t wait to see you there!

To Better Know a Building

Alexander Architectural Archive Open House: Modernism(s)

Join us for the annual Alexander Architectural Archive Open House which showcases drawings illustrating Modernism(s).

The open house is taking place August 27-29 from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Access to the archive is typically by appointment only but for the first three days of class we throw open the doors of the archive to welcome and inspire new and returning students.

The Archive is featuring hand drawn drawings, from sketches to polished presentation pieces, to motivate the student to get out and draw! See below for the official flier with additional details. We hope to see you there!

 

Feature Friday: Music in Architecture — Architecture in Music

Today’s Feature Friday doesn’t stray far from home. In fact, we travel all the way to Battle Hall’s first floor to the Center of American Architecture and Design (CAAD) to remind all of you that their incredible Center books exist. More specifically, their most recent publication: Center 18: Music in Architecture — Architecture in Music.

I personally am drawn to the focus of this palindromic-titled publication because I am always interested in reading pieces that explore the influences that are woven into architectural practice. This is something that continually fascinates me about architecture and environmental design in general: so many multidisciplinary topics and professions, some that may seem totally unrelated at the surface level, are used as inspiration for or deeply influence design decisions. Also, music is an integral part of my life; I fall deeply in love with songs to a point where they become the literal soundtrack to my life, and listening to specific songs has the power to vividly place me into a specific place or point in my life (as I’m sure is true for most of you reading this). I also find myself utilizing songs as direct design inspiration for my own projects, envisioning what genre of music would play in a restaurant, retail store, public plaza, and the like. Each essay in Center 18 reminds me of the power that music has on our lives — in ways I haven’t previously thought possible.

For example, yesterday on the bus to one of my summer classes I read the essay titled “Louis Sullivan, J.S. Dwight, and Wagnerian Aesthetics in the Chicago Auditorium Building” by Stephen Thursby. I have been reading through Center 18 haphazardly, selecting essays based on what topics I’m initially drawn to. This piece immediately caught my interest, as I have a deep love for Chicago and am spending a lot of my summer with the writings of Louis Sullivan (he’s on my summer reading list, after all!). This piece left me in awe after bringing to light the influences of nature, poetry, and the work of composer Richard Wagner in Sullivan and Adler’s design for the Auditorium’s theatre. With Andrew Bird’s new album I Want to See Pulaski at Night filling my ears with beautifully arranged strings and melodies whilst I read, I felt an overwhelming understanding of the sheer power of music on not only life itself, but how it can challenge people to live their lives better.

Now, some of you may be thinking, “Steph, what the heck? You go to school here; you should have known of the greatness of these publications. They’re always one of the top headlines on the UTSOA website and their exhibitions are held IN THE BUILDINGS YOU STUDY IN.” I know, I know — but as a graduate student about to celebrate my first anniversary of moving to Austin, I’m still uncovering the myriad opportunities and elements that make our School of Architecture such an engaging and inspiring place to learn. This takes time; I see it as an exploratory journey that affords me the ability to be pleasantly reminded, time and time again, by how lucky I am to be earning my degree from a School that prides itself on academic research and educational pursuits that bring multiple disciplines together.

Center 18 is now available for check out in the Architecture & Planning Library. I’ve already checked one out for myself, but I promise there’s more! All of CAAD’s publications are also available for purchase through the UT website or Amazon if you prefer to have a copy of your own (I’m saving up for mine!).

Call Number: 2542.35 C467 V.18 2014

This week’s #FeatureFriday was suggested by Martha Gonzalez Palacios but enthusiastically selected by Stephanie Phillips. I emphasize enthusiastically because I probably concerned Martha a bit over my excitement to dive into this book when she brought it to my attention. Sorry, Martha. 

Semester Recap: “Inside Modern Texas: the Case for Preserving Interiors”

The Spring 2014 semester was an incredibly exciting one at the Architecture & Planning Library – especially for events! My personal favorite brought together multiple facets of the library and beyond: Emily Ardoin’s curation of the exhibition “Inside Modern Texas: the Case for Preserving Interiors.”

Beginning as a Graduate Research Assistant appointment in the Fall 2013 semester, Emily, a recent May 2014 Master of Science in Historic Preservation graduate, was tasked with the goal of pulling together an exhibition for the Architecture & Planning Library’s Reading Room that would be on display from early April through September 2014. This was no easy task, as she started completely from scratch! For inspiration on finding a topic, she sifted through myriad issues of Interiors magazine, Texas Architect, and more journals from the Architecture and Planning Library. Ultimately, Emily utilized her Interior Design background and Historic Preservation studies to create an exhibition topic that was specific enough to pin down a clear focus, yet broad enough to include a wide array of archival materials from the library and Alexander Architectural Archive.

The end result was “Inside Modern Texas: the Case for Preserving Interiors,” which aligned perfectly with the Society of Architectural Historian’s Annual Conference, held in Austin in April. We were lucky enough to go behind the scenes with Emily in the final weeks of her curation process. The exhibit’s opening reception on April 10th brought together conference visitors, library and archive employees, UT professors, students of myraid majors, and more.

Emily’s exhibition is a visual testiment to the incredible depth of resources available for researchers at the Architecture & Planning Library and the Alexander Architectural Archive, as well as the vital research endeavors that are created from endowments and scholarships. Says head librarian Beth Dodd:

“We are always looking for ways to enhance the student experience, and curating an exhibit is an incredibly rigorous process that demands thorough research, careful selection and interpretation of materials, and exhibit design,” says Dodd.  “The endowment created by the late Professor Blake Alexander now enables us to offer our students this funded internship.”

Now, as we approach the official first day of summer, we want to remind you that “Inside Modern Texas” is on display in the Reading Room until September! We can’t think of a better way to beat the heat than to go on the beautiful visual journey that Emily has curated for us.

“Inside Modern Texas” Opens This Thursday!

A new exhibit, “Inside Modern Texas: The Case for Preserving Interiors,” opens April 10th at 6 pm at The University of Texas at Austin’s Architecture & Planning Library.

“Inside Modern Texas” offers insight on interior design during the period 1945 to 1975, touching upon the development of the profession and the issues faced today in historic preservation. Texas interiors from this period serve as case studies to illustrate emerging ideas in design and practice.

The exhibit includes photographs, original drawings and printed materials from the Alexander Architectural Archive and the Architecture and Planning Library. Featured architects and interior designers include George L. Dahl, Harwell Hamilton Harris, Karl Kamrath, Howard R. Meyer and John Astin Perkins.

Emily Ardoin, a graduate student in the School of Architecture’s Historic Preservation program, curated the exhibit through a new program developed with the School of Architecture.  Head Librarian Beth Dodd hopes that collaborations such as this will provide graduate students with more opportunities to use the archives to produce new scholarship.

“We are always looking for ways to enhance the student experience, and curating an exhibit is an incredibly rigorous process that demands thorough research, careful selection and interpretation of materials, and exhibit design,” says Dodd.  “The endowment created by the late Professor Blake Alexander now enables us to offer our students this funded internship.”

Mid-twentieth-century buildings are gaining widespread acceptance as candidates for historic preservation, but few retain their original modern interiors. Because they are so closely connected to human activity, interiors can be especially important conveyors of historic significance, but they are highly vulnerable to changing tastes and functional requirements. The perceived impermanent nature of interior design components, and historic preservation legislation which often focuses on building exteriors, further complicates preservation efforts.

Repositories such as the Alexander Architectural Archive provide opportunities to study the history of design. “Because interiors are so vulnerable to change, teaching and research rely on libraries and archives for historic documentation,” notes Dodd.  “In this first exhibit, Emily had to dig deep to discover material in the collections of architects who were only starting to recognize interior design as a distinct profession.”

The exhibition will be on display in the Architecture and Planning Library reading room in Battle Hall through September, and is free and open to the public. The opening reception will be held April 10 at 6:00 p.m. in conjunction with the Society of Architectural Historians 2014 Annual Conference.

Inside Modern Texas: Behind the Scenes with Emily Ardoin

Last semester, Graduate Research Assistant Emily Ardoin, a Masters candidate in Historic Preservation within the School of Architecture, introduced us to her process behind developing a curated exhibit – from scratch! Very few have this incredibly unique and rewarding opportunity, and, needless to say, those of us in the library were beyond thrilled for her. As the Society of Architectural Historians Conference swiftly approaches, which coincides with the official opening reception of the exhibition, we decided to check in with Emily and get more details from the curator herself.

To recap, Emily was tasked with developing a display for the Reading Room in Battle Hall for the Spring 2014 semester. During her brainstorming phase, she sifted through myriad issues of Interiors magazine, Texas Architect, and more journals from the Architecture and Planning Library as not only a source for inspiration, but as a gauge for what materials were available to her within the walls of Battle Hall. As most of our library users can attest to, the Architecture and Planning Library is full of information (we’re lucky to say that!), so Emily utilized her Interior Design background, current Historic Preservation studies, and a time range from World War II to approximately 1975 to help narrow her foci and eventually land on a exhibition topic that was specific enough to pin down a clear focus, yet broad enough to encapsulate a spectrum of available archival materials.

Emily also noted that The Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference, held this year in Austin from April 9th-13th, could also serve as a source of inspiration for unearthing an exhibition focus. While perusing the paper topics for the upcoming conference, Emily noticed one in particular: Placing the Profession: Early Contexts for Interior Design Practice in the US. This, in conjunction with her educational studies, helped Emily land on her topic of “Inside Modern Texas: The Case For Preserving Interiors.” Says Emily of the topic:

“The idea behind it is that, as much as modern architecture is gaining momentum in historic preservation [nowadays], interiors aren’t always considered. This is also true of buildings of other periods, but with modern interiors, significant characteristics like spatial relationships or lack of ornament can be especially difficult to recognize.  And commercial interiors are a challenge. There can be more pressure to update constantly when a forward-thinking image is considered important for the success of a business.”

To articulate her thought process visually, Emily divided her exhibition into three main parts, the first being a brief overview of modern interior design and its principles. As interior designers or architectural history buffs may know, interior design was still in the process of growing into its own profession during the mid twentieth century. Emily, in the first third of her exhibition, lays out the several factors that contributed to the profession of interior design in Texas, focusing on major influences, including the contributions of the Dallas Market Center. Harwell Hamilton Harris created the drawings for the Trade Mart within the Center, which the Alexander Archive possesses – a key example of the types of resources available!

The second part of the exhibition transitions to a chronological overview of interiors, sourced from the Archive and images from the library’s journals. These sections serve as an excellent primer for the final third of Emily’s exhibition: the challenges behind preserving modern historic interiors. To articulate her thought process, emily utilizes three case study examples in Texas: The Wilson House in Temple, former home and showroom of the founder of Wilsonart Laminate Company and current house museum for the same company; the famous Inwood Theatre in Dallas, which features a 1980’s bar addition to its 1947 lobby interior; and the Austin National Bank Building, now McGarrah Jessee Advertising on East 6th Street, a key feature in Austin’s adaptive reuse scene.

By doing exhaustive research and spending her working days fawning over the Archive’s incredible depth of modern architectural drawings, photographs, prints, and more (it was one of her favorite parts!), Emily has created a beautiful and thoughtful exhibition that draws attention to a highly relevant topic in preservation: the retention of historic interiors. Says Emily:

The interior of a building is what its users interact with directly, so it can serve as an especially informative historic record. That same direct interaction can be a challenge for continued use of the building. Adaptive reuse can be a very useful and practical preservation strategy, but it can result in quite a bit of change particularly to the interior. At the same time, not every historic building can be a house museum. You have to balance those priorities. It’s an interesting problem that historic preservation principles do address already, but whether the focus should be stronger is worth considering.

Emily, in the process of her curation, has uncovered so many provocative topics that could benefit researchers in the future. She has made sure to note when specific interior designers are referenced in projects she comes across, providing them to the archive staff to help with future collection. Interior design as it is today is a relatively young profession, so archival material can be more difficult to find. Though it may not seem like it for her now, Emily’s exhibition will go far beyond its display dates of late March to September 2014 – at least in terms of its research!

We are so excited for her work to be displayed concurrently with the Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference. Please join us on April 10th for the opening reception!