Category Archives: archive

Alofsin Archive: Writings

This is Kathleen Carter again with another update on the processing of the Anthony Alofsin archive. The Central European Architecture materials have all been safely rehoused, leaving me with the next area of Alofsin’s research to complete.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Dr. Anthony Alofsin has been a prolific writer and has a dozen books and over 80 articles, essays, and reviews under his belt. In addition to When Buildings Speak and The Struggle for Modernism, work for two other of Alofsin’s books are currently in the collection of his papers.

A Modernist Museum in Perspective, edited by Alofsin
A Modernist Museum in Perspective, edited by Alofsin

First is A Modernist Museum in Perspective: The East Building, National Gallery of Art, published in 2009. Alofsin edited and contributed to the book, which contains a series of essays on the National Gallery of Art’s East Building in Washington, DC. The East Building contains the  National Gallery’s modern and contemporary art and was designed by architect I.M. Pei (whose student work from his days at the Harvard Graduate School of Design also appears in the Design Education materials).   Materials in the Alofsin archive include research that Alofsin accumulated on the East Building, drafts of his and others’ essays, and papers from “The East Building in Perspective”  symposium hosted by the National Gallery that Alofsin participated in as moderator and speaker in 2004.

Another of Alofsin’s books that appears within the archive is Dream Home, What You Need to Know Before You Buy. Alofsin wrote Dream Home as a guide to buying a home and insight into the real estate industry. Alongside manuscripts and the final proof of the book are Alofsin’s notes and research. This includes many property listings used as resources for this book.

Page from the final proof of Dream Home
Page from the annotated final proof of Dream Home

As these materials also all carefully rehoused into archival folders and boxes, this completes processing of Alofsin’s research records. Next up are the extensive materials relating to his role as professor of architecture, including the course materials for some of the classes that he taught!

World War I & UT-Austin

Hello! My name is Irene Lule. I work at the Alexander Architectural Archives as a graduate research assistant. I was fortunate to spend my summer interning with the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress. The Veterans History Project, created by Congress in 2000, “collects, preserves, and makes accessible” the records of our American veterans from World War I to present.[1] My specific project focused on increasing the discoverability of World War I veteran collections through finding aids. A finding aid, as described by the Society for American Archivists, is “a description of records that gives the repository physical and intellectual control over the materials and that assists users to gain access to and understand the materials.”[2] Ultimately, our goal was to create finding aids to facilitate greater use of World War I collections. By the end of my internship, I had encoded 10 finding aids documenting the experiences of World War I veterans. As someone not too well versed in the United States’ role in World War I, I could not have asked for a better educational experience. To learn more about my experience at the Veterans History Project and the veterans I worked with, read my two blogs for the Library of Congress about soldier homecomings and WWI-era postcards. As Junior Fellows, we presented our projects to Library of Congress staff and the public. Check out the picture of me (in the blue dress) below on Display Day!

LOC_1                     Photo by: Shawn Miller for the Library of Congress

After returning to The University of Texas at Austin (UT) campus for the fall semester, my experience with World War I archival material increased my awareness of the university’s World War I history. Tomorrow marks the 79th anniversary of Veterans Day.  Enacted in 1938, the holiday also marks Armistice Day in other countries.[3] Along with being the first “modern” war, America mobilized over 4,000,000 soldiers in two years and suffered over 100,000 casualties during World War I.[4] While typically associated with the Vietnam War, a majority of these men were conscripted (drafted) from all over the United States.[5] On November 11, 1918, an armistice was signed between the Allied and Central Powers ending the fighting in World War I. Memorials to the American soldiers of World War I are seen throughout the UT campus since post-WWI years marked a period of tremendous expansion for the university. As time marks away the years, the visual representation of these memorials are not lost. There are several memorials commemorating World War I at UT, including one large stadium. Erected in 1924, the current Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium (DKR) was originally dedicated to all Texans that had served during World War I.[6] Following the successive wars that followed, the stadium was re-dedicated (for a third time) to all Americans soldiers in all wars in 1977.[7] Next time you are near the stadium, stop by the Red McCombs Red Zone to view the plaque listing the names of Texans that perished in World War I and a rendering of a doughboy (slang for an American soldier during World War I).

IMG_1549A rendering of a WWI doughboy outside of the Red McCombs Red Zone.

In addition, the Alexander Architectural Archives contains archival material related to the World War I memorials designed by Philippe Cret. Paul Philippe Cret, a prominent architect hired by the UT administrators to create a master plan for the University and design the Main Building, has an interesting connection to World War I. A noted architect, Cret was born and raised in France.[8] He relocated to Philadelphia to teach architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, but still visited France during the summers with his wife.[9] With the breakout of World War I in June 1914, Cret, at the time in France, joined the French army, where he remained for the duration of the war.[10] Cret actually “suffered from serious deafness as a result of his service in World War I.”[11] Following his service, Cret was commissioned by the American Battle Monuments Commission to design World War I memorials. The Alexander Architectural Archives has an extensive collection containing Cret’s drawings, photographic material, and papers predominantly related to his work with the University of Texas as well as materials related to his work involving World War I memorials. The following paragraphs will discuss some of these materials from the Littlefield Fountain and Chateau-Thierry Memorial.

Cret_4Cret (in the middle) with William Battle and fellow architect, Robert Leon White (WWI veteran) at UT Austin on November 8, 1932.

As mentioned before, much of our most UT iconic structures can be credited to the post-WWI years. One of these is the Littlefield Fountain, which was constructed following a donation from Major George W. Littlefield. Created in the context of Southern remembrance, the fountain’s history is extensive and complicated. Littlefield originally imagined an arch lined with the “figures important to Texas and Southern history.”[12] Pompeo Coppini redesigned Littlefield’s idea to be a fountain commemorating World War I with the (now removed) Confederate statues surrounding the fountain as a “monument of reconciliation portraying World War I as the catalyst that inspired Americans to put aside differences lingering from the Civil War and unite in carrying the torch of liberty to the Old World.”[13] Paul Cret came into the Littlefield Fountain process well after its inception, but as the consulting architect for the university, his approval was crucial. He reorganized the location of the Confederate statues away from the fountain and along the mall where they remained until August 2017.[14] After years of back and forth, Littlefield’s death in 1920, and various other issues, the Littlefield Fountain was unveiled in 1932 with both Littlefield’s and Coppini’s original intentions “hopelessly blurred.”[15]

There are several features of the fountain that are very obviously about World War I. Alongside the side of Columbia, there is a soldier and sailor on her sides.[16] The back of the fountain contains a plaque listing the “Sons and Daughters” of the university that died in the Great War.

IMG_1540The sailor, located on the right side of Columbia, on the Littlefield Fountain.

Located just outside of Chateau-Thierry, France, the Chateau-Thierry Monument “commemorates the sacrifices and achievements of American and French fighting men in the region, and the friendship and cooperation of French and American forces during World War I.”[17] The photograph below depicts an eagle with a map of the region (designed by Cret) nestled underneath.

Cret_2

Along with “heroic sculptured figures representing the United States and France,” the monument is a double colonnade rising above the valley of the Marne River.[18] The American Battle Monuments Commission has digitized the 1937 dedication of the monument on YouTube, which includes a speech by General John J. Pershing! The photograph below depicts an eagle with a map of the region (designed by Cret) nestled under from a scrapbook in the Cret collection.[19]

Cret_3Another angle of the eagle. All three World War I memorial photographs are from a scrapbook in the Cret collection.

Cret was also commissioned for World War I monuments in the United States. Below is photograph of the Providence World War I Memorial in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cret_1A World War I memorial, also designed by Cret, in Providence, Rhode Island.

In addition to the Paul Philippe Cret collection, the Alexander Architectural Archives contains several collections from World War I veterans including Ralph Cameron, Theo S. Maffitt, Preston M. Geren, and Robert Leon White. Cameron and Maffitt also served during World War II with the Corps of Engineers. Most of these collections focus on the veteran’s career as an architect with some exceptions.

Next time you find yourself on the 40 Acres whether it is walking to class, rushing to a meeting, or watching the Longhorns play in DKR, take a moment to reflect on the memorials and read the names of UT’s past.

References:

[1] “About the Project,” Veterans History Project, accessed November 7, 2017, https://www.loc.gov/vets/about.html.

[2] “Finding Aid,” Society of American Archivists, accessed November 7, 2017, https://www2.archivists.org/glossary/terms/f/finding-aid.

 

[3] “Veterans Day,” Wikipedia, accessed November 7, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veterans_Day.

[4] “United States in World War I,” Wikipedia, accessed November 6, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_in_World_War_I.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Handbook of Texas Online, Richard Pennington, “Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium,” accessed November 06, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/xvd01.

[7] Ibid.

[8] “Paul Philippe Cret papers,” University of Pennsylvania, accessed November 6, 2017, http://dla.library.upenn.edu/dla/ead/detail.html?id=EAD_upenn_rbml_MsColl295.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Jim Necar, “Symbolism Amok,” Alcalde, May/June 2001, 80.

[13] Speck, Lawrence W., and Richard Louis. Cleary. The University of Texas at Austin: an architectural tour. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2011, 88.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Speck, Lawrence W., and Richard Louis. Cleary. The University of Texas at Austin: an architectural tour. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2011, 87.

[17] Elizabeth Nishiura, American Battle Monuments: A guide to military cemeteries and monuments maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission (Detroit: Omnigraphics, Inc., 1989), 4.

[18] “Chateau-Thierry Monument,” American Battle Monuments Commission, accessed November 6, 2017, https://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries-memorials/europe/chateau-thierry-monument#.WgB5PGhSyUk

[19] Elizabeth Nishiura, American Battle Monuments: A guide to military cemeteries and monuments maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission (Detroit: Omnigraphics, Inc., 1989), 50.

Alofsin Archive: Central European Architecture

This is Kathleen Carter again with another update on the Anthony Alofsin archive processing. The Design Education materials have all been safely rehoused, so I’ve moved on to the Central European Architecture materials in the collection.

Research notes by A Tense Alliance scholar Monika Platzer
Research notes by A Tense Alliance scholar Monika Platzer

In the early 1990s, Dr. Alofsin led a team of scholars from all over the world in a research consortium called “A Tense Alliance: Architecture in the Habsburg Lands, 1893-1928.” The Tense Alliance research project was supported by the Internationales Forschungzenstrum Kulturewissenschafe (IFK) research institute in Vienna, the Getty Research Institute, and the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA).  Scholars explored the role of architecture in Central Europe and the project resulted in an international traveling exhibition “Shaping the Great City: Modern Architecture in Central Europe, 1890-1937.” Alofsin independently continued his research from the Tense Alliance project and also wrote the book When Buildings Speak: Architecture as Language in the Habsburg Empire and Its Aftermath, 1867-1933 on emerging architectural styles of the late Austro-Hungarian Empire.

 

Both the field notes and research from the Tense Alliance project

Color layout of When Buildings Speak pages
Color layout of When Buildings Speak pages

and Alofsin’s work on When Buildings Speak make up the Central European Architecture materials of the Anthony Alofsin archive.  Alofsin also made a point to have beautiful color photography taken of the architecture explored in his book. As a result, not only do the Central European Architecture materials contain accumulated research and multiple drafts of When Buildings Speak, but also thousands of stunning visual materials including photos, transparencies, 35 mm slides, and negatives.

Transparency of a photo taken by Hans Engel for When Buildings Speak
Transparency of a photo taken by Hans Engels for When Buildings Speak

As with the Design Education materials, I have been rehousing these materials into new archival quality folders and boxes. I’ve also been at work adding the Central European Architecture materials to a draft of a finding aid of the collection. The finding aid will eventually provide researchers with a guide to all of the Alofsin materials. While carefully placing all of these photographs into protective sleeves and papers into new folders is time consuming work, it’s necessary for their long-term preservation, and the materials themselves are incredibly interesting and beautiful to see. I’ve really enjoyed both working with them and the knowledge that in the future others will be able to access them as well.

Alofsin Archive: Design Education

Alofsin Archive Design Education materials rehoused in their new manuscript boxes
Alofsin Archive Design Education materials rehoused in their new manuscript boxes

Hi, I’m Kathleen Carter. As I detailed in my last blog post, I’ve been processing the Anthony Alofsin Archive, the papers of the University of Texas at Austin professor and author of several works on architecture. Currently, I’m in the rehousing stage of the project. I’ve been removing materials from their original boxes and folders and putting them into brand new archival folders and manuscript boxes.  As with anything, these materials will age and may become unusable if not stored properly. By placing the papers into acid-free folders, putting all photographs into protective sleeves, and removing any damaging materials (for example, rusting paperclips), we can ensure that the Alofsin Archive will remain in good condition for as long as possible. To start with, I’ve been working on the materials that Dr. Alofsin collected on the history of design education.

 

Alofsin's book on the Harvard Graduate School of Design published in 2002
Alofsin’s book on the GSD

The bulk of these materials are about the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD). Dr. Alofsin was commissioned by the GSD’s Dean Gerald McCue in 1985 to write a thorough history of design education at Harvard for its 50th anniversary in 1986 (also Harvard’s 350th anniversary).  With editor Julia Bloomfield and research assistant Andrea Greenwood, Alofsin accumulated over six hundred pages of documentation on the history of school. These were used to plan the exhibition “The Founding Decades of the Schools of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and City Planning at Harvard, 1895-1935″ held at the GSD in 1986. Alofsin also laid down the framework for a multi-volume series about the school. While those books were never published, Harvard later passed the rights of the materials to Alofsin. He used the research to write The Struggle for Modernism: Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and City Planning at Harvard, published in 2002.

 

GSD student Raymond F. Leonard's 1931 thesis, an example of student work accumulated in the archive
GSD student Raymond F. Leonard’s 1931 thesis, an example of student work Alofsin collected

Drafts of both the original volumes and The Struggle for Modernism are in the Alofsin Archive. The research for the 1986 project and other materials on the history of design education accumulated by Alofsin have also found their home in the Alexander Architectural Archives. These records include interviews with GSD alumni and faculty, work by students dating back to the 1930s, charts of the evolution of the GSD’s courses,  hundreds of photographic materials, and even papers from the personal archive of the first GSD Dean Joseph Hudnut.

 

These materials will all be described in a complete finding aid of the Alofsin Archive and available to researchers to see for themselves!

A photograph from the archive of early GSD students working in the historic Robinson Hall
A photograph from the collection showing early GSD students at work in the historic Robinson Hall

Work on the Anthony Alofsin Archive

My name is Kathleen Carter and I’m a recent graduate with a Master’s of Science in Library and Information Science from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. I moved to Austin to begin work as the Processing Archivist for the Anthony Alofsin Collection for the Alexander Architectural Archives. The position was generously funded by Dr. Alofsin along with the donation of his papers. Since the end of July, I’ve been processing the collection of the University of Texas at Austin professor, award-winning architect, author, exhibit curator, and expert on modern architecture.

 

If Dr. Alofsin seems like a man who wears many hats, the Archive of his materials certainly verifies that. A major part of the Alofsin Archive is his personal library, now housed in Special Collections of the Architecture and Planning Library. The collection of books, academic journals, and other publications varies from several volumes on architect Frank Lloyd Wright (Dr. Alofsin is a leading authority on Wright) to art books to collections of Irish ghost stories.

 

Some of the materials that make up the Anthony Alofsin Archive
Some of the materials that make up the Anthony Alofsin Archive before they are arranged and rehoused.

This wide array of interests and professional work comes through in every part of the collection, and has made it interesting to work with. The approximately 57 linear feet of archival material follows Alofsin’s personal and professional life from his days as a master’s candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Design to the intensive research accumulated for several of his publications. Over his thirty-year career, Alofsin has published a dozen books, founded The University of Texas at Austin’s Ph.D. in Architecture, and kept up a professional practice as an architect (including designing his own home). Alofsin has also, as the creator of the collection and therefore the preeminent expert on its contents, proven to be an invaluable resource himself. His office in the School of Architecture is a few minutes’ walk from where I’m working on his materials. Meeting with him has provided me otherwise impossible insight into the collection.

A drawing by Anthony Alofsin created as a part of his coursework at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1979.
A drawing by Anthony Alofsin created as a part of his coursework at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1979.

While completing the detailed inventory of the collection, I found Alofsin’s drawings, both his student work for Harvard and for his professional practice, some of the most visually stunning parts of the collection. For his final project at Harvard, Alofsin created a design for a new Boston City Hall. For another student project, Alofsin visited Jerusalem in 1980. The collection includes drawings and several 35mm slides of the Jerusalem Gates that he took on the trip. Later work includes drawings and plans for an addition to a historic home in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the plans for his own Austin, Texas home.

 

Anthony Alofsin's book, When Buildings Speak, published in 2006.
Anthony Alofsin’s book When Buildings Speak, published in 2006.

Other highlights of the collection include his work as a professor. The complete lectures and slides for Alofsin’s Survey courses on the history of modern architecture make up a substantial part of the collection. These allow for the study of courses which no longer exist and include an abundance of stunning visual material. Many photographic materials also exist for the body of research that Alofsin completed on Central European Architecture. Photos of beautiful architecture in Vienna, Prague, and Budapest used in Alofsin’s book When Buildings Speak: Architecture as Language in the Habsburg Empire and Its Aftermath, 1867-1933 fill several folders of the collection. Carefully rehousing all of these photos to preserve them for future research will make up the next large part of the project.

 

Along with rehousing and description, I will also create a complete archival finding aid of the materials. The finding aid will be available online and the collection open to researchers, allowing for the discovery of the wealth of information available within the Anthony Alofsin Archive.

To Better Know a Building: The University of Texas Tower, 80th Anniversary

TBKB-Tower2

The Architecture & Planning Library and the Alexander Architectural Archives are pleased to recognize the 80th anniversary of the University of Texas Tower’s dedication by featuring the iconic structure in its fifth installment of the To Better Know a Building exhibition series.

The Alexander Architectural Archive is fortunate to have an abundance of documentation for the building including construction drawings, shop drawings, construction photographs and project files from the University of Texas Buildings collection. Correspondence between the architects and the University can be found in the Faculty Building Committee records kept by Robert Leon White, supervising architect.

The exhibit series seeks to explore buildings through drawings and other visual items found in the Alexander Architectural Archive and Architecture & Planning Library with a focus on working drawings.

Plans, elevations, sections and details communicate the realization of design intent and can be used as a vehicle in teaching through example.

The exhibit opens on February 27, 2017, with a reception, and the exhibit extends through August 7, 2017. Free and open to the public.

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.

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.

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