Tag Archives: University of Texas School of Architecture

Students working

The Visual Resources Collection Records–An Archive of Human Capital

Part I: Charles Moore, Harwell Harris, and the Texas Rangers

Since last fall I’ve been processing the primarily photographic archive from the Visual Resources Collection. To date, the archived collection consists of 20 manuscript boxes, 8 binders, 3 oversized flat file boxes, 1 negative box, and other large posters scattered among select flat file drawers. With materials spanning the 1930s to the present, the archive offers a unique glimpse into the history of the School of Architecture. A key component of the Visual Resources Collection’s mission has been research and documentation support for the School of Architecture’s faculty and students, and it is this particular orientation that has generated so many of the on-site photographs that are now part of the Architectural Archives’ growing collections. In Frederick Steiner’s foreword to Traces and Trajectories, a compilation of scholarly output about the history of UT’s School of Architecture, he writes that “[t]he success and advancement of universities depend on people.”1 This aspect of the collection (investment in human capital, that is) has been part of what has made it particularly captivating and rewarding to process.

Charles W. Moore, 1984
Charles W. Moore, 1984
Charles Moore's likeness, medium: pumpkin
Charles Moore’s likeness, media: pumpkin, wire

Renowned architect Charles W. Moore began teaching at the UT-Austin SOA in 1985 as the O’Neil Ford Chair of Architecture–this would be his final teaching post.

Above are several long-serving faculty members, including Peter Oakley Coltman (left), one of the chief faculty members for Community and Regional Planning, Blake Alexander (center), preservationist and namesake of the Alexander Architectural Archives, and Hugh McMath (right), former acting dean before Harwell Hamilton Harris accepted the position of director in 1951.

In 1951, Harris became the first to direct the newly independent School of Architecture (up to this time, it had been administered through the Department of Engineering). Though his tenure at the University of Texas would be short-lived due to in-fighting and his strong desire to return to his own design projects, he left an indelible mark upon the School.2 During his stay, he hired some remarkable teachers that later became part of an informal cohort known as the “Texas Rangers”–known for their emphasis on form, embrace of interdisciplinary modes of art production, and their recognition of the generative capacity of idiomatic and regional architecture.34 Among the “Rangers” were Colin Rowe, Bernhard Hoesli, Lee Hirsche, John Hejduk, and Robert Slutsky (all of whom were hired by Harris and are pictured above); and later, shortly after Harris’s re-location to Fort Worth where he devoted himself to the Ruth Carter Stevenson commission, Werner Seligman, Lee Hodgden, and John Shaw also joined the SOA faculty, and came to form part of the group as well. Though few of the Rangers would stay for long, the curriculum they collectively created shaped the development of the School and their legacy can still be espied in the School’s “foundational” pedagogy.5

 

1. Frederick Steiner, “Human Capital” in Traces and Trajectories (Austin: The University of Texas, 2010), viii-ix.

2. Lisa Germany, “‘We’re Not Canning Tomatoes': The University of Texas at Austin, 1951-1955″ in Harwell Hamilton Harris (Austin: The University of Texas, 2010), 139-156.

3. Smilja Milovanovic-Bertram, “In the Spirit of the Texas Rangers” in Traces and Trajectories (Austin: The University of Texas, 1991), 63-65.

4. Alexander Caragonne, The Texas Rangers: Notes from an Architectural Underground (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995).

5. Milovanovic-Bertram, 64.

School of Architecture Event Recordings

For the past seven years, UT’s School of Architecture has been posting videos of lectures, forums, and other presentations hosted by the school to their dedicated Vimeo page. The turnaround is superb; many events held just this fall, like a talk given in October by alumnus Craig Dykers of Snøhetta, are already available online for anyone who missed them, whether for reasons geographical (hard to find a cheap flight from Oslo) or spatial (they simply couldn’t find an open seat in the packed lecture hall).

For the past three years, we at the Alexander Architectural Archives also have been working (until now behind the scenes) to provide online access to past School of Architecture events, albeit from a different, earlier era, when programs were recorded on audio cassettes instead of HD video. Cassette tapes, unfortunately, are a notoriously unstable storage medium. Their magnetic tape is particularly susceptible to degradation through processes like acid hydrolysis. So, since 2013, we’ve been collaborating with Digitization Services at UT’s Perry-Castañeda Library to digitize a collection of approximately two hundred cassette recordings of interviews and public lectures given at the School of Architecture during the 1980s and 1990s by prominent architects and architectural historians from both the United States and abroad, including AIA Gold Medalists Ricardo Legorreta, Charles W. Moore, Glenn Murcutt, and César Pelli, among others.

Audio cassette tapes of UT School of Architecture event recordings from the 1980s and 1990s stored at the Alexander Architectural Archives in Battle Hall

Once reformatted, we review all the audio to capture index terms like persons, places, subjects, and architectural buildings and sites mentioned by speakers so that when the digital files are uploaded to Texas ScholarWorks, UT-Austin’s institutional digital repository, keywords and other descriptive metadata can be added with the files to facilitate search and discovery of the recordings. The audio review process can be arduous, as the original recordings, many of which were of slide lectures, have neither transcripts nor listings of images. Often we must ascertain, through minimal verbal description, which building an architect might have been talking about at a given moment during a lecture, even though someone in the audience at the time would have known immediately simply by looking at the slide being shown.

So far around one hundred of these cassettes have been digitized. Of these, we’ve currently ingested digital versions of over twenty-five of these historic programs (each program might have several .mp3 files associated with it) into Texas ScholarWorks. Anyone with a University of Texas EID can sign in and download and listen to them. (The collection can be browsed and bookmarked here: https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/handle/2152/43672) We also encourage outside researchers who don’t have immediate access to contact us (apl-aaa@lib.utexas.edu) should they want to listen to any particular recording, which we anticipate they will. To read secondary literature about Fay Jones, for instance, is one thing. To listen to his understated, gentlemanly Arkansan drawl reveal the inspiration behind some of his most cherished and sublime of works—how, say, Thorncrown Chapel winks at Sainte-Chapelle—is incomparably more beguiling.

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!

New Books at the Architecture and Planning Library

RowePetit, Emmanuel, ed. Reckoning with Colin Rowe: Ten Architects Take Position. New York: Routledge, 2015.

Reckoning with Colin Rowe is a collection of essays or interviews regarding his influence. Robert Maxwell, Anthony Vidler, Peter Eisenman, O. Mathias Ungers, Leon Krier, Rem Koolhaas, Alan Colquhoun, Robert Slutzky, Bernhard Hoesli, and Bernard Tschumi all make contributions. According to Emmanuel Petit, the guiding theme of the essays is as follows: …each one of them intersected with Rowe’s ideas and initially used them as a stepping-stone, only to then resolutely swerve from his ideological orbit and create new concepts for the discipline. (Petit, “Rowe After Colin Rowe,” 5)

Robert Slutzky, for example, recounts the course of his relationship with Rowe, including their appointment to the School of Architecture at the University of Texas, Austin. Slutzky narrates:

The worldly problems just mentioned were somehow bracketed, enabling us to put our entire efforts into this pedagogical change without having to act on problems that were much more palpable in the big cities in America. In the big cities, the newspaper headline was always in front of you and the anxiety was always there. Austin was pacific, sedated, and we could concentrate more clearly. That was an important part of the Texas experiment. This was the frame that made our experiments possible. (Robert Slutzky in conversation with Emmanuel Petit, “To Reason with One’s Vision,” 116)

BungalowGermaniaLehnerer, Alex and Savvas Ciriacidis, eds. Bungalow Germania: German pavilion – 14th International Architecture Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia 2014. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2014.

For whatever reason, I am particularly attracted to the publications associated with the 2014 Biennale. This work contains essays by Philip Ursprung, Alex Lehnerer, Savvas Ciriaidis, and Sandra Oehy, Quinn Latimer, Irene Meissner, Uta Hassler and Korbinian Kainz, and a photo essay of the pavilion by Bas Princen. Ursprung writes of Ciriacidis and Lehnerer’s pavilion:

Lehnerer and Ciriacidis have created a situation where we can experience first-hand the tension between two spatial regimes and where, in that exhibition context, we can cross from one temporality into another. (Philip Ursprung, “The Phantom of Modernism: The Chancellor’s Bungalow in the Belly of the German Pavilion,” 14)

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!

 

Open House: Welcome to the Architecture & Planning Library!

It’s one of our favorite times of the year once again: the arrival of both new students and familiar faces for the beginning of the fall semester! We’ve had a great summer here at the Architecture & Planning Library, but we always feel a little empty without students mulling about our stacks or studying in our Reading Room throughout all hours of the day.

To welcome new UTSOA students, the Architecture & Planning Library will be hosting an Open House tomorrow between key orientation presentations. Details are as follows:

What: Architecture & Planning Library Open House
Where: Battle Hall – both the Library and Archive will be open for visits!
When: Tuesday, August 26th from 5:00-6:00pm, between scheduled orientation sessions
Why:  To introduce you to your ultimate best friend in research for the next few years!

For incoming students planning on attending UTSOA’s orientation activities, you’ll notice that 5:00-6:00pm is directly between the mandatory orientation welcome and Dean Steiner’s back-to-school address at 6:15pm in the Jessen Auditorium. During that time, Dean’s Ambassadors will be offering tours of the Libraries and Resource Centers pertinent to life at the UTSOA. We invite you to stroll in at any time during that hour to explore both our stacks, Archive, and Reading Room. Did we mention we’ll have cool refreshments and warm cookies as a reprieve from the busy schedule of activites?!

Both new and returning students are happily welcomed. We can’t wait to see you there!

Feature Friday: A Guide to Dallas Architecture

Happy Feature Friday! Only a few more posts until the fall semester – time sure flies when you’re sweating uncontrollably in the Austin summer heat. (Or is that just me?)

This Friday, we’re once again shedding light on a unique subset of books at the Architecture & Planning Library: city guides. These range from self-guided architecture tours to city overviews that delve into historic facts and figures. Though many of these titles may come up in research, they’re also great to turn to when planning a visit to a new city.

Sure, Google and travel-assisting websites like Yelp and Foursquare may have overtaken print as the modern technological “guidebooks,” but there’s something both comforting and convenient about having a complete tour guide in written word. Personally, nothing will top being able to easily flip through a few pages, scour various custom maps, and decide on my next destination – all without worrying about draining my phone’s battery!

The Architecture & Planning Library holds an extensive amount of titles for both present-day tours and ones that reveal the past. I absolutely love finding guidebooks from a decade ago or older for cities that I’ve been to many times and comparing my internal map to what was there before. For example, when I added provenance notes to the Karl Kamrath Collection in late 2013, I came across an architectural walking tour of Chicago from 1969, complete with illustrations and maps. I was enthralled with photographs that depicted ornate skyscrapers that had been sacrificed over the years for towering glass symbols of prestige, the very symbols that define Chicago’s skyline today. By studying the tour book intently, I feel like I now have a greater depth and understanding of the city’s timeline and urban development, and now picture the ghosts of former buildings when passing their replacements. There’s something both beautiful and haunting about reading a first-hand account of a tour through a city so many years ago – only to realize how vastly different our present-day experience of the same city is.

Historical treasures stud our stacks, but so do more modern titles of guidebooks, which may surprise some readers. For example, The American Institute of Architects Guide to Dallas Architecture from 1999 is a great example of more recent efforts to present an American city clearly, cohesively, and comprehensively in one book.

This differs from the tour books you may find on a bookstore’s shelf in that its primary focus is architectural – in its descriptions, tour arrangements, photography, and significant features. Where most off-the-shelf guidebooks might direct you towards the latest restaurants or nightlife, this book details parks, key structures, historic neighborhoods and districts, as well as sculptures and gardens. The maps are tailored to custom walking tours and guide you through one of Texas’ and America’s great cities to places even Dallas natives may have overlooked. And although this publication is much more modern than the 1969 Chicago tour, 1999 is still well over a decade ago – and the comparisons to the present city are likely staggering!

The next time you plan a visit to a new city, I highly recommend searching for a tour or guidebook in our catalog beforehand to see if you have the opportunity to check out one of the myriad architecturally-centric ones in our stacks. If coupled with a bookstore guidebook, your trip will likely be full of surprises – ranging from off-the-beaten-path monuments or neighborhoods to ghosts of city’s past.

Happy exploring!

Feature Friday: Perusing the Past

Happy August, everyone! Where does the time go?! Aptly, for this week’s Feature Friday, we’re getting a bit nostalgic.

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post revealing how a library is actually so much more than just a place to rent books for research. It’s often a place of communal solitude, where the focus of those surrounding you miraculously rubs off on you during a study crunch; a place of calmness, predictability, and ease, where methodical sounds of footsteps pacing the stacks, the beeping of barcodes, and the flipping of pages enfolds you and makes you feel truly comfortable in the space you’re in; and, most importantly, a place for inspiration, a place where you’re completely surrounded by thousands of books that you know you’ll never even touch, but could if you had the chance. I mean truly, what is more beautiful than a place that habors an endless amount of knowledge?

That’s why this particular Feature Friday focuses on something that’s not a unique feature to this specific day, week, month, or even year; it’s a feature that is present each and every hour, minute, second that we’re open: our stacks.

More specifically, here at the Architecture & Planning Library, our second floor harbors hundreds of solid-color, stately-looking hardcover books that are actually a few issues of journals bound together to form one convenient package. Those of you that have done research in our library likely know exactly what I’m talking about: the rows and rows of navy blue, evergreen, and maroon shells that make you feel like you gain intelligence simply by walking through (“contact intelligence” if you will – can I trademark that term?). Most researchers, however (including myself!), tend to start by looking up a specific topic in the catalog, jotting down a call number, journal name, issue number, and page range, and beeline straight to that specific journal.

There’s nothing wrong with that by any means, and I love when I have the opportunity to utilize sources other than the internet. However, today I’d like to encourage you to consider exploring these journal archives without a particular goal in mind, just to see what you find – especially if you’re studying an architecture or design-related major!

…Why, you may ask? The idea of blindly pulling a plain-covered book and flipping through its pages seems a little counter-productive versus the typical strategy of spine shopping in a library or bookstore. However, I’ve come to realize that discoveries found without a clear-cut end product in mind are often the most fruitful. Here’s an example:

Above is a photo of a two-page leaflet found in the July 1964 issue of Architectural Forum. (Yes, you read that right – 1964 – and we have issues dating back to 1917!) Aside from staring wide-eyed at the advertisements that made me immediately want to rewatch seasons one through six of Mad Men, this article caught my eye due to its detailed plans, sections, and sketches that were 100% created by hand. The spread depicts the plan to bring Pennsylvania Avenue – Washington D.C.’s most prominent thoroughfare – back to its original grandeur. The White House is located in the top left corner, and the avenue runs to the Capitol at the bottom left. Immediately, I went to the ever-useful Google Maps to compare what was so beautifully illustrated in 1964 to what the exact area looks like today.

So. Awesome.

It’s discoveries like these that continually drive my insatiable curiosity to explore beyond what I’m required to. I’ve only been to Washington D.C. once – when I was in elementary school – and can assuredly tell you that I was not particularly fixated on assessing the quality or design of the public spaces around some of our nation’s most prominent and vital monuments at the time. I am now, however, fascinated by comparing elaborate plans conceived decades ago to how they were ultimately implemented into city fabric. Additionally, I was flooded with questions: how was this space adapted over the years? What concepts of the 1964 plan were removed from the final product? Were they actually there originally, but replaced over time by something else? How does this comprehensive scheme work today? Is the social experience as lively as intended? Did it ever function as intended?

By simply paging through a journal from decades ago, I have stumbled upon a topic that I could potentially develop a research paper on – or even a thesis or dissertation that expands its sample into a broader inclusion of major city plans over the years. How rewarding is that?! This is why I encourage you – or any user of any library across the globe – to peruse the past without a purpose. You’ll learn what interests you without an assignment looming over your head – which is a peril of many students!

Summer is as good of a time as ever to explore, and we’ve but a mere month of it left. What better way to beat the heat than jumping into a visual time machine and uncovering traces of the past that you had no idea existed?

Sounds like a great bucklist item to me.

Feature Friday: OnArchitecture Database

We are so excited to announce – and subsequently feature – our recent subscription to OnArchitecture, an online audiovisual database that functions as an artistic archive exclusively for professional and educational institutions around the world. OnArchitecture contains original material focusing on key individuals, buildings, and installations in contemporary architecture, and highlights them through interviews, documents, audiovisuals, and more. In their own words, this database provides “a synthetic, deep and detailed panorama of the world’s main authors, works, experiences and problematics related to the field of architecture.

OnArchitecture boasts an extensive catalog of buildings and installations, including influential works like the Sendai Mediatheque by Toyo Ito; Capitol Complex in Chandigarh, India by Le Corbusier; and Ai Weiwei’s Fake Design. The catalog is presented clearly and cleanly, meaning that it’s exceptionally easy to maneuver through and explore. The main page for each work features a brief video, a summary of the work, additional documents, and – my personal favorite – a suggested bibliography of additional information on the building or piece. I love this setup, as the page serves as a key introduction to the main aspects of a work of art, and then both encourages and facilitates additional research. As a student, I cannot even begin to express how handy this is!

Perhaps the most unique aspect of this database is its extensive collection of video interviews with various influential artists, architects, and curators from all over the world. These interviews candidly cull out the critical reivew of works from the artists themselves. So often in research we are presented with an interpretation of a building or piece through a secondary observer or scholarly source; while vital, these interviews reveal the fundamental process behind a piece that can only be expressed through the mind of its creator. Think of this portion of the database as a collection of TED talks for artists and designers. And, as you can see in the screen grab below, you can travel the world in just one sitting!

I cannot express enough how thrilled I am that the Architecture & Planning Library has invested in this inimitable database. I am already certain that this will serve as a key source for research when my studies resume in fall, and I’ve already watched several interviews out of pure interest and fascination. Follow the link below to start exploring yourself!

OnArchitecture – access this database