Tag Archives: Paul Philippe Cret

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.


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.


[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.

Friday Finds: Fireplaces

For the past couple of weeks, I have been contemplating the transmission of ideas as it relates to architecture. While browsing Special Collections, I found several books on fireplaces – two catalogs, one a history, and the last a reprint of an eighteenth-century pattern book – that provide another opportunity to think a bit further about ideas on the move.

Architectural Decorating Company (Chicago, Ill.). Fireplaces: catalog no. 101. Chicago: Architectural Decorating Company, [19–].

The writer of the catalog proclaims the importance of the fireplace to any American home:

For ages at the twilight hour humans have drawn together at the firelight’s cheerful glow. In habitations throughout the centuries, the fireplace has received special attention, and some of the loveliest art of all ages has been lavished upon it.

Today, thanks to modern methods of production, the best of classic mantel designs from various periods are available to every home. For the bungalow or palace, there is an appropriate mantel in cast stone whose lines will focus the very spirit of the home into a glowing shrine about which the family may gather. (pg. 19)

Each page is dedicated to a single fireplace with a black and white photograph, measurements, molding profile, and an identified style. The styles include Louis XIV, XV, and XVI, Adam, Colonial, Tudor, Georgian, Italian, and several variations on the theme of Renaissance. The intended audience of the catalog is builders and architects. The writer notes “They [fireplaces] help close sales.” (pg. 1)

Young & Martin, Ltd., London. The HUE (Heat, Utility, Economy) adaptable barless fire; a book of designs for discriminating home-lovers. 15th ed. [London? 19–?].

The second catalog comes from a British company in which a new type of stove can be placed into an existing fireplace. Accordingly:

The “HUE” has been placed before the public as an Easy, Inexpensive and Efficient method of converting the old-fashioned, coal-wasting type of grate into a modern barless stove, possessing all the advantages of the very latest improvements in open grates without the necessity of pulling down mantelpieces and removing existing stoves. (pg. 2)

The models are assigned one or two to a page, accompanied by measurements, a rendering – some reproduced in color – materials and finish. Unlike the catalog from the Architectural Decorating Company, the target audience appears to be the general public. Some of the illustrations, for example, create atmosphere and context so that the customer would not have to imagine how the fireplace might look in their homes. The cover includes an illustration of the “glowing shrine” as described in the previous catalog. Furthermore, Young & Martin, Ltd. refrain from architectural styles, preferring to bestow names onto their fireplaces like “Hampton” or “Windsor.”

Our copy is well worn. A previous owner sketched a ruler onto the rendering of the “Henley.”

Pgs. 14-15

Rothery, Guy Cadogan. English chimney-pieces, their design and development from the earliest times to the nineteenth century; with an architectural notice by A. L. Kocher. New York, Architectural Book Publishing Co. [1927].

Guy Cadogan Rothery provides a brief history of the fireplace from the medieval period to the nineteenth century, followed by an extensive photo essay and accompanied with some architectural drawings of fireplaces. Our copy of English Chimney-Pieces belonged to J. A. Sherman of Ipswich with an associated date of August 1928. After a bit of research, I was not able to positively identify Sherman as an architect. A previous owner of the book, whether Sherman or otherwise, taped a drawing of a fireplace into the front end papers of the work.

Langley, Batty. 1750. The city and country builder’s and workman’s treasury of designs: or, The art of drawing and working the ornamental parts of architecture. Illustrated by upwards of four hundred … designs … engraved on one hundred and eighty-six copper-plates, for piers, gates, doors [etc.] … With an appendix of fourteen plates of trusses for girders and beams, different sorts of rafters, and a variety of roofs, &c. To which are prefixed, the five orders of columns, according to Andrea Palladio … The whole interspersed with sure rules for working all the varieties of raking members in pediments, modillions, &c. … By B. L. Boston: Boston Architectural Club, 1922.

Of the four books, the reprint issued by the Boston Architectural Club of B. Langley’s architectural drawings for various decorative elements – including fireplaces – is my favorite. Our copy is part of the Paul Cret collection.  While the work is a facsimile of an eighteenth-century work, it also includes extensive advertisements often associated with a trade publications. I find the juxtaposition of these two elements speaks to both historical practice and need.

Tales from the Texas Architecture Archive

Now one of the largest repositories of its kind in the United States and housed at UT-Austin’s venerable Battle Hall, the Alexander Architectural Archives began as an associate professor’s private passion, an ad hoc gathering of student reports written for the “Survey of Texas Architecture” course taught by archives namesake Blake Alexander (1924-2011). For the class, which Alexander, a Texas native and Longhorn alum, began teaching in the 1960s, students were sent into the field and also into reading rooms of city and county libraries and archives across the Lone Star State to research land titles, conduct oral interviews, and photograph and make measured drawings of Texas buildings. Students wrote about and drew a wide swathe of edifices, some of which no longer stand, lost to indifference or to the vested interests of urban developers; some of which are currently under threat, like Austin’s Palm School, named for 19th-century Swedish immigrant Swante Palm, a diplomat and bibliophile whose donated book collection essentially started the University of Texas’ library system and whose house stood just off Congress Avenue, right where the thermal-glass tower Texas Monthly calls home now looms; and some of which, through the rugged persistence of high-minded preservationists like Alexander and his indefatigable colleague Wayne Bell, have been saved from the wrecking ball and repurposed, like the old Lone Star Brewery complex in San Antonio that today is the San Antonio Museum of Art. Buildings grand and mundane, commissioned and vernacular, everything from aristocratic 19th-century hotels to lowly log jails, were documented by students in these class reports, which were kept personally over the years by Alexander until the collection outgrew both his office and a storage room known as “Alexander’s closet” and were transferred to the care of what is now The University of Texas Libraries.

Since then, the Alexander Architectural Archives has grown into a major collection of over 280,000 drawings, 1,150 linear feet of papers, and some 300,000 photographic items related to architectural projects not just in Texas but throughout the United States and abroad as well. Though now just a fraction of the archives’ total holdings, Alexander’s seed assemblage of student reports—formally the Texas Architecture Archive (TAA)—still retains a special position with both archives staff and researchers. Its materials get heavy and loving use, so to provide even better access to this signature collection, archives staff spent much of last summer and fall reviewing and updating descriptive metadata for each and every one of the nearly 1,400 student reports. When needed, these reports, filling more than 25 record storage boxes, were also individually rehoused into acid-free folders, though it should be noted that most of these reports, many of which were written over half a century ago, well before personal computers and inkjet printers became fixtures in campus dorm rooms, are in fine fettle given the high-quality, durable cotton paper (sometimes watermarked with a vintage University of Texas bookstore logo) on which students typed their final drafts. With enhanced metadata (project dates, architect names, location information) researchers will have new access points and avenues into the collection, whether they’re looking for scholarship about a well-known Texas architect (Abner Cook, Nicholas J. Clayton, James Riely Gordon, to name a few) or have more general queries about historic structures within a specific city or county.

Richer metadata has also allowed us at the archives to begin exploring different ways to visualize the collection’s wide-ranging materials, the vast majority of which are related to the built environment of Texas. For instance, we’ve been able to use Palladio, a free browser-based digital humanities toolset developed at Stanford, to map the subject locations of each student report.

Map created with Palladio showing locations of Texas-related reports in the TAA collection.
Map created with Palladio showing locations of Texas-related reports, grouped by county, within the TAA collection. Dots represent county seats and are sized by number of reports.

Not surprisingly, most students wrote about buildings and structures in Travis County or in cities and towns a (relatively) short drive away along the I-35 corridor north to Dallas-Fort Worth or south to San Antonio, a route that roughly follows the scalloped curve of the Balcones Fault. Conversely, the map reveals how strikingly few structures west of the Hill Country were researched. The Llano Estacado of the Lubbock area or, further south of that, the Trans-Pecos region near Fort Stockton, are more onerous distances from Austin, and impecunious pupils no doubt preferred to examine historic structures closer to the Forty Acres. One of the buildings written most frequently about, the Greek Revival Neill-Cochran House, built in 1855, is just a few short blocks from Guadalupe Street, the university’s main commercial drag. The mapped reports also simply mirror well-established historical trends of 19th– and 20th-century settlement in Texas, the limits of which were always around the 98th meridian, east of which there was enough (if not plenty of) rainfall and west of which there was land so dry that it was difficult to cultivate, making both town-building and its byproduct architecture risky propositions.

Over the next few months we’ll be writing posts meant to illuminate how the Texas Architecture Archive student reports make visible this intersection between the architecture and history (natural, social, political, industrial) of the Lone Star State. Above all, the hope is that this occasional series, which we’ll call Tales from the Texas Architecture Archive (or Tales from the TAA), will convey the elemental pleasure of time spent in our archives. Whether the subject is food, transportation, entertainment, military affairs, or demographic shifts, architecture is everywhere a foil to life. It’s always there, shaping or reflecting the world at large, a locus or backdrop to the lives we lead.

One of the more delectable documents in the TAA collection is a 59-page report on the history of Austin’s Enfield Grocery. Designed by Hugo Kuehne, founding dean of UT’s School of Architecture, it was built in 1916 with barge-board trimmings by locally-renowned Swiss woodcarver Peter Mansbendel. It offered “staple and fancy groceries” until after Prohibition, when it became The Tavern, a neighborhood beer joint. (A sports bar operates there today under the same name, serving sinfully good queso burgers on kolache buns to sudsy Longhorns fans who gather to watch televised games.) For her report, written in 1987, the student interviewed one C. J. Schmid, an old-timer who recalled the motley regulars who’d drink there in the 1930s, including Mansbendel, Paul Cret, the architect who developed the UT campus master plan, and Italian-born sculptor Pompeo Coppini, who worked with Cret on UT’s Littlefield Memorial Fountain and whose bronze figures of Jefferson Davis and Woodrow Wilson were removed last August from their prominent limestone perches on UT’s South Mall. (They eventually will be on display at their new home, the Briscoe Center for American History.) In the interview, Schmid lamented that The Tavern’s current “kindergarten” clientele was objectionably green and boorish and that fellows of his advanced age therefore avoided it, as they did Scholz Garten, where the snot-nosed college kids “kind of looked ill-kept, you know, all whiskered up” and had “stringy hair, you know, kind of greasy.” As for the waitresses, Schmid opined, “soap was not their main possession.” We can see from the TAA collection’s student reports, then, that while buildings come and buildings go, some things, like griping about younger generations and the newest out-of-towners (a seemingly inexhaustible parlor game in Austin) never change.

Le Premier Tome de l’Architecture de Philibert de l’Orme

de l’Orme, Philibert. Le premier tome de l’architecture de Philibert de l’Orme. Paris: Fédéric Morel, 1568.

Collection: Paul Philippe Cret Library

The first of two planned volumes on architecture, Philibert de l’Orme’s Le premier tome de l’architecture celebrates the presence of a tradition in building and design that is specifically French. While de l’Orme acknowledges the influence of antiquity in contemporary French architecture, he deconstructs its contributions—specifically its long canonized orders—in an effort to demonstrate the French innovation of a design expression distinct from Italian idioms. To that end, the book examines the basic geometry, spaces and architectural elements that might combine in a building, establishing a somewhat prescriptive design and construction methodology. In addition, de l’Orme outlines basic approaches to certain professional considerations (e.g. how to determine building cost, the type of character employees should possess, where to discover the best materials, etc.) uniting profession, process and product in the domain of architecture.


Library of Congress call number: NA 2515 D4 1568



I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura

Palladio, Andrea. I quattro libri dell’architettura. Venice: D. de’Franceschi, 1570.

Collection: Paul Philippe Cret Library

Published in four volumes beginning in 1570, I quattro libri dell’architettura is a treatise on architecture that outlines a systematic approach to building design and construction. This watershed tome, penned by Italian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580), is exemplary of the Renaissance preoccupation with antiquity, drawing heavily from extant Roman architecture and Vitruvius’ De Architectura to establish nine sets of rules that would guide design and construction. In the four books, Palladio addresses rules for construction and/or design according to type of architectural object and the role of that object in the system that would comprise the building whole. These objects serve to organize the text, with walls, ceilings, stairs, columns, doors, windows, frames, roofs and details receiving direct treatment as the architect prescribes appropriate material, function and style for each.

Library of Congress call number: NA 2515 P25 1570

Les Dix Livres d’Architecture de Vitruve

Vitruvius. Les dix livres d’architecture de Vitruve. Paris: J. B. Coignard, 1684.

Collection: Paul Philippe Cret Library

In 1684, French anatomist and architect Claude Perrault published a corrected edition of his 1673 translation of Vitruvius’ De Architecture, a fragmented copy of which resides in the library of Paul Philippe Cret. This second edition deviates only slightly from the original publication, functioning to amend minor errors and provide augmented documentation of the ideals established by Vitruvius in his ten books. More importantly, this volume reaffirms a preoccupation with codifying an historicizing mode of architectural expression. Yet, while Perrault, whose design for the Louvre represents a rigorous transcription of 16th century classicism, exhibits a clear reverence for his Roman forebear, he also attempts to locate the trajectory of French architecture within the classical tradition. To that end, Perrault assumes Vitruvius into a specifically French discourse on architecture, constructing an explicitly French text that largely eschews the use of Latin or Italicizing verbiage and improves upon the copyists’ attempts to assign exemplary renderings to passages within the text. In this manner, Perrault establishes French classicism as a mode of architectural representation that is at once historicizing and nationalist.

Library of Congress call number: NA 2517 V85 1684

The Antiquities of Athens

Stuart, James The Antiquities of Athens. London: J. Haberkorn, 1762.

Collection: Paul Philippe Cret Library

James Stuart’s four-volume The Antiquities of Athens is a practical treatise documenting ancient architecture in Athens. Produced in the tradition of Palladio and Desgodetz, The Antiquities of Athens looks to ancient architecture as a model for contemporary design and construction. Yet, unlike these earlier enthusiasts, whose work privileged Roman architecture, Stuart maintains that Greece was the cradle of the European architectural tradition where idealizing Hellenes refined the system of orders in a number of monumental structures including the Parthenon, Erechtheion and Propylaea. To that end, he examines a number of ancient Athenian buildings, producing meticulous documentation of the spatial relationship between architectural elements. Utilizing both text and wood cuts, Stuart also establishes the setting of each documented building, emphasizing the significance of building context to demonstrate that architecture doesn’t merely follow a measured and material prescription for its own sake, but rather to create an inhabitable space marked by craftsmanship, place and culture.

Library of Congress call number: NA 280 S9 1762 v. 1 – 4

Précis des Leçons d’Architecture Données à l’Ecole Royale Polytechnique

Durand, Jean-Nicolas-Louis. Précis des leçons d’architecture données à l’Ecole royale polytechnique. Liège, Belgium: D. Avanzo, 1840-1841.

Collection: Paul Phillipe Cret Library

In Précis des leçons d’architecture données à l’Ecole royale polytechnique, Jean Durand outlines the comprehensive methodology he established to train young architects studying at the Ecole. To guide the effective analysis of architecture and development of building projects, Durand explains the basic components comprising a structure (e.g., material, architectural elements, etc.), their relationship to one another (e.g., proportion, etc.), the basic means of assembly (i.e., construction practices through masonry, carpentry, etc.), and the methods of communicating design through plans. Durand also discusses typology, examining buildings in context to establish certain principles for designing and constructing public buildings and those private buildings appearing in various settings. In this section, Durand begins to imagine buildings as systems of modules, an approach that prefigures later modernist attempts to modularize the design process. As a result, the Précis establishes itself within the great lineage of architectural primers while incorporating the industrializing tendencies of its time to usher a practice deeply rooted in tradition into a mechanized era.

When I reviewed this book in order to write this entry I came across a note deposited by a former reader, whose preoccupation with the use of certain materials is marked by an interest in currying new business and collecting design fees. From time to time, such ephemera appears, and though it typically offers little or no insight into the specific intersections that produced it, its very presence provokes the imagination.

Library of Congress call number: NA 2520 D931 1840 (Atlas and Text)


The Seven Lamps of Architecture

Ruskin, John. The Seven Lamps of Architecture. New York: J. Wiley, 1880.

Collection: Paul Phillipe Cret Library

John Ruskin’s The Seven Lamps of Architecture is a theoretical treatise that examines the art of architecture from a distinctly nationalist perspective rooted not only in patria, but in God and a celebration of the ingenuity and spirit of man. The specific abstractions employed to both organize the book and discuss the function and creation of buildings betray romantic proclivities as Ruskin associates commonly-held British social principles—sacrifice, truth, power, beauty, life, memory and obedience—with design and construction. Ruskin locates these values in architecture as practice (intellectual activity), craft (process of production) and historical agent (by which buildings become essential recipients and purveyors or signifiers of tradition) to construct a moralizing polemic that endeavors to reinsert spirit and vitality into building and buildings.

Library of Congress call number: NA 2550 R75 1880B

Treasures from the Library of Paul Philippe Cret

Faceplate, Vitruvius. Les dix livres d’architecture de Vitruve. Paris: J. B. Coignard, 1684. 2nd Edition.

The Paul Philippe Cret Library is a collection of architectural books of considerable historic value to the University of Texas at Austin and to the scholarly community-at-large. Its namesake and originator, French-American architect and educator Paul Philippe Cret (1876-1945) devised the University’s 1933 Campus Master Plan and designed 20 campus buildings including the Beaux-Arts Main Building and UT Tower. His contribution to American architecture as both a practitioner and educator bridges the Beaux-Arts tradition of design and emergent concepts of modernism. This transition is reflected in his library in which foundational Renaissance treatises on architecture and design can be located alongside the polemical writings of Le Corbusier and other modernists.

Over the next few weeks, Battle Hall Highlights will feature a number of items from Cret’s library, which includes over 450 volumes published between 1560 and the 1930s. Offprints, exhibition catalogs, prospectuses, annual reports, monographs, trade and industrial publications, and journals, including many volumes in French comprise the library’s corpus and complement the Cret drawing collection held in the Alexander Architectural Archive. Among these titles, one can locate numerous rare and richly illustrated imprints, many of which are folios preserved in their original leather or cloth binding. These items will be showcased in this blog series.

For more books from the Paul Philippe Cret library and for more information on the architect himself, check out the these books along with the Alexander Architectural Archive finding aid.