Category Archives: archive

Alofsin Archive: Student Materials and Professional Work

Hello again, this is Processing Archivist Kathleen Carter with more information on progress of the Alofsin archive.

As the processing of this collection comes to a close (things are nearly complete!) I’ve been at work on two standout areas of the collection: Anthony Alofsin’s student work from his years studying architecture at Harvard University and Columbia University and his professional work as an architect. In step with materials I’ve already processed, both contain a wealth of information and a large number of stunning visual materials. These are also the areas of the collection that contain the largest number of drawings by Alofsin, which currently fill a flat file cabinet.

A model Alofsin made for his coursework while a student at Harvard University in 1978
A model Alofsin made for his coursework while a student at Harvard University in 1978

Alofsin attended the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) from 1978-1981 and began researching the history of the GSD and design pedagogy there (which eventually led to his book on the history of the GSD, The Struggle for Modernism, published in 2002). The archive includes his course notes and design work, including architectural sketches and drawings and a model built as one of his first projects for the school. The Alofsin archive also includes notes and work created during his time at the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, where he received Master of Philosophy and Ph.D. degrees. It was there that Alofsin began his research on Frank Lloyd Wright, and his doctoral dissertation was on Wright’s connections to Europe.

Notebook containing course notes for a Design course that Alofsin took at the Harvard Graduate School of Design
Notebook containing course notes for a Design course that Alofsin took at the Harvard Graduate School of Design
Notebook containing course notes for a Romanesque Architecture class Alofsin took at Columbia University
Notebook containing course notes for a Romanesque Architecture class Alofsin took at Columbia University

After completing his education and in addition to his teaching position with the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin, Alofsin worked professionally as an architect. He designed his own residences, including a house and condominium in Austin, Texas, in addition to building homes for clients. This year he was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA), the highest membership honor reserved for architects who have made substantial contributions to the field.

Plans for the Rogers Residence
Plans for the Rogers Residence by Alofsin in 2008

Architectural plans as well as reports and documentation from every stage of the design process are included in the Alofsin archive. As with previous materials, I have carefully rehoused and inventoried all of the materials regarding Alofsin’s professional work. Both his student work and his professional work are organized and have been described in the finding aid of the collection to be available to researchers.

Photos of Alofsin's personal home in Austin, TX, which he designed
Photos of Alofsin’s personal home in Austin, TX, which he designed

 

With these parts of the archive rehoused and inventoried, the project is getting close to completion! Remaining are some of Alofsin’s personal correspondence and administrative documents from his work as professor with the School of Architecture.

Gone to Cincinnati

Irene here with a post about a trip to the Buckeye State, Ohio! In early October, several members of the Alexander Architectural Archives attended the 40th anniversary conference of the Society for Commercial Archeology (SCA) in Cincinnati, Ohio. If you wish to learn more about the processing of the SCA collection, please read my previous post. Along with educating the organization about the processing portion, we were also there as an outreach measure for both monetary and archival material donations. My supervisor, Stephanie Tiedeken, Archivist for Access and Preservation, and I co-presented on the project during the paper sessions. Beth Dodd, Curator of the Alexander Architectural Archives, also attended the conference. Along with presenting, we were also fortunate to participate in tours focusing on the history of Cincinnati and the surrounding area.

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Day 1

We arrived on Wednesday, October 4th for the opening reception at the Washington Platform Saloon & Restaurant. After dinner, those brave enough to climb several hundred feet below the surface visited lagering cellars that exist below many structures. Cincinnati had a very active brewing business in the 1800s until the Prohibition Era. The tour guide noted that Cincinnati is thought to have the largest underground system of these cellars in the United States.

Day 2

The next day consisted of a tour of Cincinnati. We toured the Carew Tower, which was the tallest building in Cincinnati until 2010. We were treated with wonderful views of the surrounding area.

IMG_1157
The view at the top of Carew Tower.

After, we loaded up on the buses and visited one of Cincinnati’s historic neighborhoods, Over-the-Rhine. As mentioned before, the city had an active brewing economy mostly due to the large amount of German immigrants that came into the area. The tour consisted of us walking around the neighborhood and learning about the influence of German immigrants in society and the local economy. Additionally, architecture is a big theme with SCA. Walking around Over-the-Rhine provided an interesting way to see first-hand the evolution of architecture from then to now. We also visited more underground lagering cellars.

Bruce Willis apparently filmed part of Marauders (2016) in this cellar. These cellars would house the barrels of lager until the Prohibition Era.
Bruce Willis apparently filmed part of Marauders (2016) in this cellar. These cellars would house the barrels of lager until the Prohibition Era.

We also stopped at a restaurant where the owner had covered the outside facade and lawn area with neon signs. The one below is one of my personal favorites of the whole trip.

One of my favorites! Any guesses why? Ballantine's was Martin Crane's (from Frasier) favorite beer!  In the background, you can see more neon.
One of my favorites! Any guesses why? Ballantine’s was Martin Crane’s (from Frasier) favorite beer! In the background, you can see more neon.

The best part of Day 2 was the 40th anniversary dinner at the American Sign Museum. Along with the wonderful food (including a tasty mac and cheese bar!), Tod Swormstedt, a former SCA board member, gave a very detailed tour of the space. The ambiance coming off the lights really created a wonderful atmosphere to celebrate the 40th year of SCA. Check out all of the fantastic neon signs.

Just a small sample of the signs at the American Sign Museum!
Just a small sample of the signs at the American Sign Museum!
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The American Sign Museum also had a Big Boy sign! I didn’t get the pose exactly right…

Day 3

Friday was the presentation of the papers. I had never presented at a conference before, so the nerves were quite high. Stephanie and I were in the third session of papers, The 20th Century Roadside in the 21st Century. The two other paper sessions were Exploring the History of Cincinnati and the Buckeye State, and History and Preservation of the American Roadside. Each presenter was allotted 20 minutes to present with a 20 minute Q&A after each paper session. I am happy to report that our presentation went very well. I tried to slow down and focus on positive faces on the crowd. We received a lot of questions about the SCA collection from the audience. Following the paper sessions, Neon, a documentary covering the history of neon in the United States was shown.

Day 4

The focus of Day 4 was a tour of the Dixie Highway, one of the first major highways in the United States. We loaded up on the buses at 8 am and began our travels to Lima, Ohio. Along the way, we stopped at various regional mom-and-pop shops including Kewpee Hamburgers for a late lunch. We also stopped at businesses with interesting signs as seen below. The day concluded with the closing dinner at the Mecklenburg Gardens for a German dinner.

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Mom and pop shops have some of the more unique signs!

The context for why we attended this conference was centered on acquiring additional SCA archival material, but also educating others about what the Alexander Architectural Archives does as an archive. Many times I have had to explain what an archive does and how archivists operates within such an institution. The opportunity to speak directly to SCA members, the individuals donating their material, about the SCA collection was education for both groups. We actually came home with new acquisitions including posters and towels for a conference in Miami during the early 80s.

The opportunity to present at the SCA conference was a highlight of my fall semester. Among my classmates, I have been one of the few to have had the opportunity to present at a conference for their job. I also learned more about the amount of preparation needed to create a professional level presentation, which is always needed! Stephanie and I created a nice PowerPoint presentation, which we both practiced numerous times including one final run on the day of paper sessions.  On a more personal level, I have become quite knowledgeable about the history of SCA. It was wonderful and slightly bizarre to actually meet the individuals featured in the collection. I was starstruck a few times. I am very grateful for the opportunity to present on a project that has been a passion of mine. Next time you see a neon sign or a diner, stop and take a look around! You won’t regret it!

Order Up! – The SCA Collection at AAA

Hello! This is Irene Lule, Graduate Research Assistant for the Alexander Architectural Archives (AAA), with information about our most recent processed collection, the Society for Commercial Archeology (SCA) records. Formed in 1977, the Society for Commercial Archeology is a nonprofit organization focused on the 20th century built environment. Its collection at the Alexander Architectural Archive documents the activities and business of the organization from its inception to the present. From diners to neon signs, SCA publishes a quarterly newsletter, Road Notes, and a journal, SCA Journal along with organizing tours and conferences for its members. The value of any collection is always dependent on the user. For myself, the processor, learning more about processing archival collections, how an organization functions, and a look into commercialism from the mid-20th century are three of the most important. The following blog post will discuss some of the challenges and highlight some of the true gems in the collection.

Challenges

The overall goal of any processing project is to establish physical and intellectual control over a collection. Measuring at 9.42 linear feet and with over 900 photographic materials, the SCA collection can be called an artificial collection, which is “a collection of materials with different provenance assembled and organized to facilitate its management or use.”[1] During the first two accessions (the act of acquiring/transferring archival materials to a repository) in 2016 and 2017, a vast majority of the material came from former SCA board members including the Alexander Architectural Archive’s curator, Beth Dodd. Combing the records of different board members to create one cohesive collection is a difficult task mostly because everyone has a different way of organizing their individual records. The way one person files their documents will not be the same as the next person. In this case, we attributed many of the folders to their original creator. For example, Beth Dodd was one of the co-organizers of the SCA’s conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico in September 2008. Since many of the records contain her personal notes, we made sure to attribute the proper folders to her. Bringing together the records of former board members is critical in creating the SCA collection, but it is also important to attribute the individual creators when appropriate.

Other challenges with the collection include privacy and photographic materials. Since many of the records are from a single individual, names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers are found throughout. As archivists, we have a code of ethics which speaks directly to protecting the privacy of the individuals in a collection. For SCA, each folder with personal information was labeled as “Restricted” This label serves as a warning to Nancy Sparrow, who is in charge of public services for the Alexander Architectural Archives. To be clear, the “Restricted” label does not necessarily mean the material will not be available for research. The label notifies Nancy to go through the material and determine the best course of action including redaction of sensitive information. Redaction is “the process of editing text for publication.” All of these measures are used to ensure the privacy of the individuals featured in the collection.

Photographic material in any collection is always challenging due to its specialized housing needs. In the case of SCA, a portion of photographic material was found in envelopes. As archivists, we have to determine the best way to rehouse these items while also maintaining the original order and provenance. In many cases, I rehoused the photograph in a four-flap enclosure and attached the original letter using a plastic paper clip, which is much less harmful than metal paper clips since metal may rust and stain. This tells others that these items are meant to be together. I also included a small note on the top of the enclosure indicating where the photograph came from as a secondary measure.

Collection Highlights

One of my personal favorite features of the SCA collection is the material documenting the publication of the quarterly newsletter, SCA News (now known as Road Notes) from 1994-1999. We were fortunate to acquire the records of its former editor Gregory Smith. As editor, Greg received correspondence, letters, and clippings from SCA members and the general public about the current events in the commercial built environment. A vast majority of our photographic material comes from this section of the collection including some wonderful photographs of neon signs.

Some of the photographs documenting the neon signs on the American roadside!
A draft of the newsletter from the SCA collection. These are examples of the types of materials former editor, Gregory Smith, would receive for publication consideration.

Additionally, the SCA collection documents the various events of the organization. Particularly active in the 1980s, tours and conferences featuring diners to quirky cities like Wildwood, New Jersey provide a glimpse into the past activities of the organization. These events served the purpose of bringing together individuals with shared interests.

SCA has a particular fondness for diners.
As a nonprofit organization, SCA is run by volunteers. Board members from various backgrounds are the backbone of the organization. This photograph is of a guide created by SCA board members for a tour in the 1980s. As you can see, diners are a common feature for SCA!

Along with these two features, SCA also contains the minutes, agendas, and various administrative records of the organization. Given its status as an artificial collection, there are some gaps we are hoping to fill through outreach. We recently attended the SCA’s 40th anniversary conference in Cincinnati, Ohio where we presented on the project and also sought archival material donations. We are expecting to receive future accruals. I often think of the SCA collection as a living collection. After I leave the Alexander Architectural Archives, someone else will continue to work on integrating both legacy and current materials into the collection. As long as SCA exists, this collection will continue to grow.

Personal Notes

The Society for Commercial Archeology collection has a very special place in my career. As the largest and most complex collection I have ever processed, I have taken away a lot of lessons about rehousing, description, arrangement, and project management along with educating me about a quirky and unique part of the built environment. I am grateful to Stephanie, Beth, and Nancy for this wonderful opportunity. Please feel free to schedule an appointment with Nancy Sparrow if you wish to view the SCA collection. We are currently wrapping up the final edits of the SCA finding aid, which will be made available on Texas Archival Resources Online and ArchiveGrid.

References

[1] “Artificial Collection,” Society of American Archivists, accessed November 20, 2017.

Alofsin Archive: Course Materials

The original carousels that housed all of the lecture slides, now empty
The original carousels that housed all of the lecture slides, now empty

Hello, I’m Kathleen Carter and this is another post documenting my work processing the Anthony Alfosin archive.

As discussed in previous blog posts, Dr. Anthony Alofsin is a prolific writer. He is also an accomplished professor. So with all of his research and manuscripts carefully inventoried and rehoused, I’ve now moved onto another area of the Alofin archive: the course materials.

Dr. Alofsin has taught at The University of Texas at Austin since 1987 where he was instrumental in founding the School of Architecture’s Ph.D. program and has offered many courses over his career. Materials from these courses, especially from the architectural survey courses that provided overviews and comparisons of architecture from around the world and throughout history, are included in the papers that he donated to the Alexander Architectural Archive. Though some of these courses are no longer taught, the Alofsin archive contains their lecture notes, reading materials, syllabi, and many, many 35 mm slides used for lectures – 2,415 to be exact!

Slides from the Survey III course that Alofsin taught in their new housing
Slides from the Survey III course that Alofsin taught in their new housing

The slides include stunning images of architecture from around the world and provided the visual accompaniment for Alofsin’s survey courses on the history of architecture. A big part of processing this portion of the collection was rehousing all of them – each of the 43 carousels took an average of about twenty minutes to completely rehouse, which added up!

All of the slides were kept in slide carousels organized by each individual lecture, still arranged in the order that they were used in the class. While this was great for seeing exactly how the slides fit into Alofsin’s lectures, each carousel took up a great deal of space and wasn’t the best environment for the long-term storage and preservation of these slides. For their well-being, I carefully removed each from its carousel and (while maintaining their order) rehoused them into archival boxes. Here they will be more easily accessible and safe while still remaining in the context that Alofsin used them in the courses that he taught for the School of Architecture.

One of the five boxes now containing all 2,414 lecture slides
One of the five boxes now containing all 2,414 lecture slides

These slides, along with a great deal of notes and materials from courses that Alofsin taught, make up one of the most fascinating parts of the collection, but a small part of Alofsin’s overall career. Next I will be working on organizing and rehousing the administrative documents from Alofsin’s career as a professor at The University of Texas at Austin as well as some of his professional work as an architect.

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.