Architectural Drawings Collection named for Professor Blake Alexander

The General Libraries Architectural Drawings Collection at The University of Texas at Austin has been renamed The Alexander Architectural Archive in honor of Prof. D. Blakeley Alexander, long-time UT School of Architecture professor and noted architectural historian and preservationist whose original collection of architectural drawings provided the foundation for the collection in 1979.

“It was Professor Alexander’s early collecting of these materials for the Architecture Library, his persuasion of donors to place their archives in the collection, the use of his own personal funds from time to time and obtaining the support of others, and the many years of unflagging effort on his part that have made this collection a reality,” says Harold Billings, director of General Libraries.

Lawrence W. Speck, Dean of the School of Architecture, observes, “It will be a great asset to the archive to bear Blake Alexander’s name. He has an extraordinary reputation as an advocate for the preservation of our architectural heritage in Texas.”

It was upon the joint recommendation of Harold Billings and Dean Speck that President ad interim Peter Flawn approved the renaming of the Architectural Drawings Collection.

Now a professor emeritus, Alexander received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from The University in 1950. After obtaining a Master of Arts degree in fine arts and archeology from Columbia University, he returned to UT Austin to teach in the School of Architecture for nearly 40 years. Alexander is the author of numerous publications relating to Texas architecture, including Texas Homes of the Nineteenth Century (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1966).

The Alexander Architectural Archive contains over 200,000 drawings as well as specifications, correspondence, contract documents, photographic materials and objects documenting the architecture of Texas and the Southwest. It includes resources for projects by such prominent Texas architects as Nicholas Clayton, James Riely Gordon, Ralph Cameron, Atlee & Robert Ayres, and O’Neil Ford. The Archive also contains documentation for the work of national and international architects such as Marshall & Fox of Chicago; Smith & Brewer and Sir Aston Webb, both of London, England; Harwell Hamilton Harris of Los Angeles; Paul Cret of Philadelphia; and Charles Moore. The Archive is also the repository for historic drawings of University of Texas buildings. The material available in the Archive encompasses all aspects of the design process as well as landscape architecture, interior design, historic preservation, and community and regional planning.

The Alexander Architectural Archive is housed in historic Battle Hall on the UT Austin campus along with the Architecture and Planning Library. The Archive is open for academic and professional research. In order to insure the preservation of the materials as well as the quality of service, the Archive is accessed by appointment only. Appointments are taken Monday through Thursday, 9:00am-4:00pm. Hours of operation are subject to change according to holiday and intersession schedules.

O’Neil Ford papers donated to UT Austin Architectural Drawings Collection

Office files and personal papers of the noted Texas architect, O’Neil Ford (1905-1982), have been donated to the Architectural Drawings Collection at The University of Texas at Austin by his widow, Wanda Graham Ford. The collection of materials includes not only personal and business papers, but also books, pamphlets, and photographic materials from the architect’s collection.

O’Neil Ford emphasized the integration of crafts and the use of native materials in his designs. His larger, most notable projects include the restoration of the La Villita and designs for the new campus for Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and Skidmore College in New York. Ford’s work was nationally published. Among his honors were an appointment to the National Council on the Arts in 1968 and to the American Council for the Arts in Education in 1975. The first endowed chair in the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin was named for O’Neil Ford.

It will take several years to fully process and catalog this extensive collection of materials. Access to the O’Neil Ford materials within the Architectural Drawings Collection, a unit of the General Libraries of The University of Texas at Austin, is by appointment only.

Charles W. Moore Room opens

A new room dedicated to the career and work of the internationally renowned architect, Charles W. Moore, has just opened in the General Libraries Architecture and Planning Library within historic Battle Hall on The University of Texas at Austin campus. The Charles W. Moore Room will house the Charles W. Moore Archives donated to the General Libraries Architectural Drawings Collection in the fall of 1996 by Lawrence, David, Steven, and Bruce Weingarten, nephews of Mr. Moore. Two adjacent rooms have also been made available to provide work and storage space for preservation activities relating to the Moore Archives.

The Charles W. Moore Archives includes watercolors, drawings, prints, material related to professional projects, slides, photographs and audio visual materials, correspondence, material related to his teaching career, books and other publications, and a group of twelve memory palaces.

The memory palaces are a group of free-standing constructions in various materials that illustrate a range of architectural concepts such as “walls that layer,” “light that plays,” “aedicules that center,” and “space that leaks in and out.” The memory palaces are approximately ten feet tall and several feet wide. Eight of the memory palaces are currently on display in the Architecture and Planning Library Reading Room in Battle Hall and another two are on permanent display in the Charles W. Moore Room.

With the exception of the books and the memory palaces mentioned above, all of the archival materials from this gift will be housed in the Charles W. Moore Room. The books will be catalogued as part of the Architecture and Planning Library, but will remain in the Charles W. Moore House, operated by the Charles W. Moore Foundation and located at 2102 Quarry Road in west Austin. The book collection consists of approximately 5,000 volumes and 1,000 issues of professional journals. The books are primarily twentieth-century imprints, mainly about Mexican, European, Japanese, American, and regional architecture, gardens, photography, history, literature, and fiction. There is also a selection of children’s pop-up books.

It is estimated that it will take several years to fully process and catalog this extensive collection of materials. Access to the Charles W. Moore Room and the materials within the Archives is by appointment only.

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