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Building for Tomorrow: Collaborative Development of Sustainable Infrastructure for Architectural and Design Documentation

Ann Baird Whiteside
Frances Loeb Library, Harvard GSD

Since the introduction of Computer Aided Design (CAD) software in the 1960s, industries that design and develop our built environment have been moving from pencil and paper to computers and digital files. The earliest adopters of the new technology were industries like aerospace and automotive, and since then the fields of architecture and design have been enthusiastic adopters. CAD has allowed architects to take previously unimaginable risks in their designs, and to experiment with new forms and materials without the need of building prototypes or performing expensive structural analyses until much later in the process.

Architectural museums and archives are faced with a rapidly growing need to preserve digital information and are grappling with the need for technological tools, technical expertise in digital preservation, AutoCAD expertise, archival expertise, and the need for repositories that can preserve and disseminate the archived data.

The use of 2D and 3D CAD and Building Information Modeling (BIM) software is now routine in architecture and design firms. The contractual deliverable has shifted from printed, wet-signed and wet-stamped drawing sets to an electronically signed model that can be manipulated to achieve equal, if not more, granular information than the traditional printed plans.

Many types of digital files produced during design and construction that are important for long-term preservation for future renovations/restorations and scholarly research.

  • 3D CAD models
  • hundreds or thousands of detailed 2D layer drawings
  • 3D printed objects
  • project “out-puts” – for example, drawings or sketches of the building.
  • photographs and videos
  • websites about the building
  • BIMs
  • communications among architects, clients, contractors and other parties

Over the last five years, we are seeing that students in architecture and design schools are further routinely using CAD for modelling, skipping the 2D drawing process entirely, meaning that the coming generation of architects will be only producing documentation in 3D models, providing more urgency to the problem of preserving this type of documentation.

The impact of this on the record of architectural innovation and practice –in architecture libraries, archives, museums, among others–is only beginning to be appreciated. No longer can libraries acquire blueprints or drawings, a few images, and a scale model or two, to represent a major work of architecture in their collections. Now they must acquire the 3D CAD models and 2D drawing files, Building Information Models (BIM), digital images, videos and documents, all delivered on a computer hard drive often with no annotation whatsoever. No library or archive is currently prepared for this new reality, but they are increasingly under pressure to figure out how to acquire these 21st century collections, to support the next generation of architectural students and historians.

The Frances Loeb Library at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design received an IMLS National Forum Grant under the National Digital Platform funding priority to support two meetings of engaged stakeholders – architects, architectural historians, archivists, librarians, technologists, digital preservationists, and others who will frame a national/international collaborative infrastructure to support long-term preservation of digital design data. The first meeting will place on April 17th and 18th, 2018 and will provide a venue for the diverse group of stakeholders to think collaboratively about the issues in preserving architectural design data, to find alignments across communities, and to identify the needs required to develop an infrastructure to support archiving of digital design information that will be usable by a variety of types and sizes of architectural museums and archives.

There has been considerable work in this arena over the last five years, and in 2018 there have been three Summits, Symposia, and workshops already that have set the stage for the Forum in April.

Society of American Archivists Design Records Section CAD/BIM Task Force

The Design Records Section Task Force has produced some critical information for the community to help us understand how practitioners, firms, and archives are managing digital content.

Designing the Future Landscape: Digital Architecture, Design and Engineering Assets Symposium, November, 2017

This event brought together a wide variety of stakeholders to discuss the issues we face when preserving digital design records. The report has just been made publicly available and can be found here: A Report on the Architecture, Design and Engineering Summit

Community Standards for 3D data preservation, February, 2018

3D/VR Creation and Curation in Higher Education, March, 2018

Building for Tomorrow: Collaborative Development of Sustainable Infrastructure for Architectural and Design Documentation

New York City Meeting at ARLIS/NA 2018

Architecture Section Meeting
ARLIS/NA Annual Conference, New York
February 27, 2018

Please send any corrections to

Nilda Sanchez-Rodriguez (CCNY) – Moderator
Aimee Lind (Getty Research Library) – Vice-Moderator, Minutes
Jessica Aberle (University of Florida)
Robert Adams (BAC)
Lucy Campbell (New School of Architecture + Design)
Rachel Castro (University of Arizona)
Raymonde Champagne (Universite de Montreal)
Kitty Chibnik (Columbia University)
Karen DeWitt (North Carolina State University)
Cindy Frank (University of Maryland)
Eleanor Gawne (Architectural Association)
Ted Goodman (Avery Library)
Janine Henri (UCLA)
Katie Pierce Meyer (UT Austin)
Alan Michelson (University of Washington)
Mar González Palacios ((Canadian Centre for Architecture)
Effie Patelos (University of Waterloo)
Rebecca Price (University of Michigan)
Irene Puchalski (University of Toronto)
Shannon Robinson (Drexel University)
James Sobczak (University of Washington)
Ann Whiteside (Harvard GSD)

Self-introductions of members in attendance

Old business:
Approval of minutes from 2017 meeting
Motion to approve.
Motion seconded and passed without opposition.

Discussion: Architecture section online spaces – what’s next?
Despite a lengthy conversation on the same topic at last year’s meeting, very few people contributed to the Architecture Section’s Facebook page and Blog in 2017. Potential content could include liaison reports, conference summaries, new courses, exhibitions, renovations, books of the year, publications, or any projects or news relevant to the group. In the past, there was a sign-up sheet at the Architecture Section meeting where people committed to providing specific content. There was general agreement that this was a good way to move forward, with Rebecca Price volunteering to act as de facto blog editor. Rebecca has the sign-up list and will contact content providers a month prior to their blog publication date.

New business:
Discussion: architecture sessions/posters at ARLIS New York conference?

  • Cindy Frank presented “Life Comes First: A Solo Librarian’s Balance of Life and Work” and was a speaker at “Scope Drift – Blending and Rebranding in Visual Resources”
  • Ann Whiteside was responsible for the poster session “Building for Tomorrow: Collaborative Development of Sustainable Infrastructure for Architectural and Design Documentation” as well as an invitation-only workshop/forum on the topic of creating an infrastructure for archiving digital design data.
  • Rebecca Price presented “Building a Collection from the Ground Up” and was a speaker at “Library Collections and Object-based Learning in the Art and Design Curriculum”
  • Rebecca Price and Alan Michelson presented “Pushing the Bounds: Library as Physical and Intellectual Civic Space”
  • Shannon Robinson moderated and Alan Michelson was a speaker at “Information Competencies for Students in Design Disciplines
  • Janine Henri was a speaker at “Pushing the Boundaries: Teaching and Learning outside the Classroom”
  • Aimee Lind presented “No Art Library Left Behind: Cross-Border Resource Sharing Among Art Libraries”

Discussion: new directions for Architecture Section?

  • Alan Michelson discussed “Information Competencies for Students in Design Disciplines” and the effort to reinvigorate the information competencies created by ARLIS in 2006. See Farrell & Badke’s 2015 report “Situating Information Literacy in the Disciplines: A Practical and Systematic Approach for Academic Librarians”. He suggested creating focus groups amongst faculty to determine priorities. If we can create a network of focus groups, we will then have the data on learning outcomes from our peers to take to faculty. Ideas suggested included polling recent alumni regarding perceived gaps in their education and taking that back to faculty focus groups. Effie Patelos reported that the University of Waterloo has hired an information literacy librarian. Embedded librarians may be able to map competencies to what is being taught using syllabi. The relative merits of focus groups vs. surveys were debated with a caveat to appreciate differing local contexts (undergrad, grad, accredited, unaccredited, basic to intermediate to terminal degree expertise). Janine Henri suggested aligning with ACSA to get faculty buy-in. Consider what is *our* place to meet *their* expectations? Are we only the support/service people or can we have a partnership with faculty, providing an essential education in image research, copyright, etc. that may be left out of curriculum otherwise? Focus groups could present an opportunity to guide the conversation. Should we examine syllabi first or survey first? To be continued…

Janine Henri – update on SAH conference activities:

  • Janine reported on the 2016 Pasadena conference and the 2017 Glasgow conference, including informing the group about publishing sessions, and library visits to the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Strathclyde. She encouraged us all to reach out to colleagues when traveling to other cities/countries. Janine also mentioned Barbara Opar’s extremely useful new book list, published on the SAH website monthly. SAHARA now has over 100,000 images. The 2018 SAH meeting will be held in St. Paul, MN 4/18/18-4/22/18 and in Providence, RI in 2019.

Aimee Lind- update on CalArchNet:

  • CalArchNet is an informal group of librarians, archivists, and curators working with architecture archives in California. Aimee briefly reported on the group’s last meeting in Palm Springs and their upcoming meeting at Cal Poly SLO and Hearst Castle. For more information, email

Gabriella Karl-Johnson on AASL:
“A Brief Update on AASL: Strategic Planning Implementation + 2018 Denver conference” (Aimee read this report from Gabriella, who was unable to attend)

  • As some of you may know, since late 2015 the Association of Architecture School Librarians has been actively working on strategic planning for the first time in the association’s history. In October of 2016 the Executive Board approved a new Strategic Directions document, including a new Mission statement, Vision statement, and a set of Strategic Directions objectives. (The full document is available on AASL’s newly redesigned website at .) The document was drafted by the Strategic Planning Task Force based upon input from our membership and feedback gathered during the well-attended Strategic Planning Session held at the 2016 AASL conference in Seattle. The Strategic Planning Task Force has now given way to a Strategic Directions Implementation Committee, which is working on concrete ways to enact the objectives outlined in the Strategic Directions document. Our upcoming 2018 conference in Denver will provide a forum via a two-hour planning session for the full membership to discuss and help shape the ways that our strategic directions will translate to action. Speaking of the conference, the 2018 AASL conference will be held in Denver on March 14-17. We will be meeting alongside the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture conference at the I.M.Pei-designed Sheraton Hotel, and the AASL conference planners have worked into the schedule more time for cross-pollination between ACSA and AASL. The conference will offer an excellent complement of presentations and talks based around the theme of identity, as well as walking tours of Denver that promise to provide views of the city’s history and recent transformations. Registration is open until March 3, and we hope to see you in Denver!”

Ted Goodman – update on Avery Index:

  • Ted is retiring in June. The Avery Index will continue though he doesn’t believe his position will be refilled, rather there will likely be some restructuring within Avery and possible reexamination of the Index’s coverage. Congratulations Ted! We are so grateful for your tireless work that benefits us all every day!

Visit to Avery Library: Details
Directions were provided for our visit to the Avery Library. It was agreed that we would meet at the Hilton’s tour gathering spot near conference registration.

Call for Vice-Moderator
A call went out for incoming Vice-Moderator (Salt Lake City) / Moderator (Saint Louis) but there were no takers. Aimee will send out another call on the listserv.

Meeting Adjourned

CalArchNet Group

By Aimee Lind, Getty Research Institute

Founded in 2016 by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Director of Special Collections Jessica Holada and Getty Research Institute librarian Aimee Lind, CalArchNet (pronounced Cal-Ark-Net) was conceived as a means to foster dialogue and collaboration among librarians, archivists, and curators at California institutions that house architecture archives. CalArchNet provides a twice-yearly forum for this specialized group of professionals to learn more about California architecture, understand the ways California architecture records are used, share information and expertise, seek advice, build a community committed to standard practices that improve operations and services, and bring greater visibility to collections and programs.

October 27th, 2017 marked the third meeting of CalArchNet, held at the Palm Springs Art Museum, Architecture and Design Center, with representatives from thirteen California institutions in attendance. Topics discussed included historic site preservation research methodology, leveraging statewide resources to enhance discovery of collections, security considerations, GIS mapping technologies, and the use of linked open data to make connections between collections. The day concluded with a curator-led tour of the exhibition Albert Frey and Lina Bo Bardi: A Search for Living Architecture.

If you’re an archivist, librarian, or curator working with architecture archives in California and would like to become involved with CalArchNet, email or check our website for more information. The next CalArchNet meeting is scheduled for March 30th, 2018 at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

ARLIS/NA 2017 Annual Conference

Minutes of the Meeting                                                                Date:  Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Newberry Room, Hilton New Orleans Riverside, Two Poydras Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

Moderator:  Karen DeWitt

Vice-Moderator:  Nilda Sanchez-Rodriguez

Recorder:  Rebecca Price

Attendees:  Beth Dodd (Univ. of Texas at Austin), Aimee Lind (Getty Research Institute), Katie Pierce Meyer (Univ. of Texas at Austin), Geraldine Billingham (Bloomsbury Publishing), Janine J. Henri  (Univ. of California), Robert W Adams (Boston Architectural College), Kristen Liberman (Boston Architectural College), Katharina Koop (RWTH Aachen Univ.), Barbara A. Opar (Syracuse Univ.), Rebecca Price (Univ. of Michigan), Ted Goodman (Columbia Univ.), Steven Baskin   (Univ. of Nevada), Henry A. Pisciotta (Pennsylvania State Univ.), Eric Chaim Kline (Book Seller), Sarah W Dickinson (Harvard Graduate School of Design), Nilda Sanchez-Rodriguez (City College of New York), Meg Donabedian (New York School of Interior Design), Faith Pleasanton (MMA -Retired), Alan Richard Michelson (Univ. of Washington), Kathy J. Woodrell (Library of Congress), Katharine R. Chibnik (Columbia Univ.), Vania Mara Alves Lima   (Univ. of Sao Paulo), John T. Schlinke (Roger Williams Univ.), Karen Elizabeth DeWitt (North Carolina State Univ.)

— Approval of minutes from last year’s meeting. Motion to approve as amended.  Motion seconded and passed without opposition.

— New Business

Social Media and Online Presence

  • Facebook Page: ( Our facebook group page is not very active. The settings are such that anyone can post. We discussed if we want to restrict that – but decided to keep the posting open, since we’re not getting any posts.  Nilda will moderate the page.  There was consensus to keep the page going and for there to be periodic prompts to the section members to participate and post events or updates about their libraries or architecture librarianship.  The name of the group is Architecture Section of ARLIS/NA.

  • Blog page:  This is a wordpress blog, with postings of articles. No one has posted anything since 2015.  Do we want to keep it?  Do we want to change what we put here?  While what is posted there is wonderful, there was discussion about whether we can maintain that (given that there have been no posts in almost 2 years).  Karen asks the group if there is interest in keeping it up.  It was suggested that we need a designated person to maintain it: soliciting and gathering posts, moderating content, etc.  Perhaps we could concentrate on shorter notices; but then it was pointed out those would be better suited to our Facebook page.
    1. It was suggested that it could serve as an aggregator of other content that we often post on our ‘home’ institution blogs.
    2. It was suggested that we investigate establishing a Pinterest page. Steven Baskin offered to share more information about that on our email list.
    3. Identifying our audience is an important consideration
    4. Looking at other section blogs might help us: g., Coll Dev Section’s blog
    5. Discussion about need for an ‘editor’ – we looked at our Bylaws and there is no editor position; we could consider adding this in the coming year.
    6. Several members offer to contribute something this year (Alan, Ted, Steven, Aimee)
    7. Consensus was to proceed with plans to post occasionally (at least every 2 months) to the Blog and Facebook pages. Nilda will send out bi-monthly prompts to the section list to solicit posts.

Session ideas for next year’s conference in NYC

  • Back Room / Behind the Scenes Tour of the Avery
  • Tour of Ground Zero – or session that would connect with such a tour
  • Session presenting NYC Resources
  • Potentially include: Avery Library, NYPL (Digital Archive), Artstor, BWR, etc. Ted and Kitty volunteer to put together these ideas into a proposal for “Digital NY”
  • Architecture Mapping Projects
    1. Examples: NY, Philadelphia, LA, Getty

— New Directions

  1. Hannah Bennett notes that the IviesPlus group is preparing an online resource that will include books about their schools and regions. Suggests that we could do something like that more broadly. Could add ephemera and local publications.  It was suggested that she add that to our blog as a post.

— Reports

  1. Janine Henri reported out about SAH. They met in Pasadena last year and while there she extended invitations to architectural historians to join us here.  This summer they’re meeting in Glasgow Scotland in mid-June.  The upcoming annual meetings will be in St. Paul, MN, Providence RI, Seattle WA.  Janine will begin posting their monthly newsletter to our list.
  2. Aimee Lind reported out on CalArchNet. They met at UC Santa Barbara and had about 20 attendees.  One of their action items is to look into statewide digitization projects and see if there are initiatives they could participate in in some way.  Still in very early stages of discovery and exploration.  Will meet again at the Getty in April.
  3. Rebecca Price reported out on the upcoming AASL meeting – March 23-25 in Detroit MI. She invited all to attend.
  4. Ted Goodman reported out about the Avery. They’re working with ProQuest on the issue of A+U Special Issues not appearing with complete information in their results.  He notes that there are lots of new journals being indexed – he showed us how to access the online list, which is updated about every 6 months.  Ted requested that we send on any suggestions for additional journals.
  5. Aimee Lind will be our next vice-moderator.

— Meeting Adjourned


Field-Based Research in the Study of Early American Architecture

By Carl Lounsbury, Senior Architectural Historian, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

For nearly ninety years, historians and curators at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation have examined countless documents and images housed in public and private archives and collections to inform the restoration and interpretation of Virginia’s eighteenth-century capital. Although their work has been grounded in written records supported by archaeological evidence, field-based architectural research has been their lifeblood, giving credibility to their restoration efforts and shape to their understanding of early American architecture. This reliance on fieldwork has linked those first architects hired by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in the late 1920s to the current generation of architectural historians. The Chesapeake House: Architectural Investigation by Colonial Williamsburg illustrates how contemporary fieldwork has transformed our understanding of building practices in the colonial and early national periods and enriched the interpretation of Williamsburg and other history museums.

River Edge, Charles City County, Virginia. Photo by Jeff Klee.

The collective endeavor of nine scholars associated with the museum since the 1980s, The Chesapeake House is a summary of current scholarship in the region that reveals a far different approach to fieldwork than that which was practiced previously. Lavishly illustrated with measured drawings, 3D renderings, photographs, and technical illustrations, the seventeen chapters and two portfolios include several interpretative essays describing the methodologies of fieldwork, the development of plan types from Jamestown’s settlement to the antebellum period, and the design process. There are chapters on slave quarters and agricultural buildings, building types that had been largely ignored by earlier historians. The last part of the book focuses on materials, details, and finishes with essays on framing methods, hardware, brickwork, interior and exterior ornamentation, paint, and wallpaper, which provide a reliable guide to the form, style, and chronology of early buildings in Virginia and Maryland. The book can be read in two ways. It is an architectural history of the region as well as a guide on how to interpret the complex histories of old buildings through their many constituent parts.


Recreation of a one-room house with its furnishings based on an inventory, c. 1700. Drawing by Studio Ammons after Allan Adams.
Recreation of a one-room house with its furnishings based on an inventory, c. 1700. Drawing by Studio Ammons after Allan Adams.
Framing, Pear Valley, 1740, Northampton County, Virginia. Drawing by Studio Ammons after Willie Graham.












H and HL side hinges. Drawing by Patricia Miller.
H and HL side hinges. Drawing by Patricia Miller.

The Chesapeake House tells a different story than the works of our predecessors in part because we have asked different questions of our evidence. Our views of early American architecture have been shaped by conceptual models of colonial society quite dissimilar to those held by the architects who transformed Williamsburg in the 1920s and 1930s. Great houses such as Westover and Stratford continue to beckon scholars as they did earlier when Fiske Kimball and Thomas Waterman first described their stylistic qualities. These two early chroniclers of the region’s architecture applied the theoretical concepts developed by art historians. This perspective considered architecture as fine art. They measured the significance of buildings according to how well they embodied a formal set of design rules. Their task was to explain a building’s relationship to an evolving stylistic system that shared certain formal aesthetic criteria. They evaluated buildings according to Renaissance rules of architecture that emphasized symmetry, proportion, and the appropriate use of the classical orders and judged them according to how well they fit those precepts. They praised those buildings that exemplified stylistic coherence or fidelity to European models of classicism and reproached others for straying from these ideals either through perceived ignorance or poor craftsmanship.

Mount Clare, c. 1757-60, Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by author.
Mount Clare, c. 1757-60, Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by author.

The aesthetic character of buildings no longer answered the most important questions that my generation of architectural historians was eager to explore. Many of us considered architecture to be an expression of social behavior and cultural practices grounded in specific historical circumstances. Consequently, our field research studies emphasized spatial analysis over stylistic pedigree. We shifted our focus from the aesthetics of form to the social manifestations of building. We investigated buildings with the belief that architectural forms carry social meanings. Architecture gives physical shape to the way people perceive their place in the world and how they interact with others. The arrangement of spaces and the hierarchical ornamentation of rooms reveal much about patterns of behavior. Buildings can be read as closely as any textual analysis for what they say about the behavior, aspirations, and interactions of members of a society, revealing patterns as clearly as any contemporary letter or newspaper. People designed some spaces to facilitate interaction whereas in other circumstances they carefully regulated access to prevent indiscriminate intermingling. The early American landscape communicated a variety of meanings that sometimes changed over time or were transformed by new ideas and attitudes. Often, the significance of a building was implied by its position in a landscape, its materials, levels of finish, or plan. However, these meanings were not static but often dynamic, changed over time, and could be interpreted in a variety of ways or contested by different members of society.

The Comforts of Home for a Gentleman’s family in Williamsburg.
The comforts of home for a gentleman’s family in Williamsburg.
The Discomforts of Home for an Enslaved Family in Williamsburg.
The discomforts of home for an enslaved family in Williamsburg.











Entire historic landscapes have been opened for such scrutiny, not simply the style-conscious homes of the wealthy. In The Chesapeake House, gentry houses visited by our predecessors still play an important role in telling many stories, simply by the fact that their owners dominated colonial society and these structures have enjoyed a better rate of survival. But they were only a part of a more diverse early landscape, which is less familiar now by the fact that so much of it has disappeared. Beyond the formal grounds of great estates like Shirley or Gunston, there was a countryside that swarmed with ordinary people who seldom or never set foot on a gentleman’s property and only occasionally crossed paths with a Carter or Mason at the parish church, county courthouse, muster field, or along the road. The commonplace world of small freeholders, tenant farmers, indentured servants, and most slaves assumed a much-reduced scale—smaller farms, modest wooden farmhouses, fewer specialized farm buildings, and here and there a solitary quarter. Not surprisingly, few of these smaller farmhouses remain standing today and eighteenth-century slave houses and agricultural buildings are extremely rare. What we know about this nearly lost world derives from a few standing remnants supplemented by archaeological evidence and documentary sources. By looking at the entire range of this architectural legacy, our research also explores the physical dimensions of the lives of men, women, and children whom have often been forgotten in traditional historical narratives—from craftsmen and laborers who shaped the buildings to the myriad of individuals, who inhabited, worked, played, and entertained in them.

Architectural Drawings of a Railway Company

By Bonnie Reed

Last spring I completed a review of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway architectural drawings archived at the Texas Tech Southwest Collection. This research project was precipitated by a comment made by a professor on the difficulty of locating architectural drawings for some historical structures. My original impression was that most of the drawings in this collection were of depots; however, I found drawings of a great variety of railroad and community structures, including the historical structure that initiated my research quest.

The charter for the Atchison Topeka Railroad was drafted in 1859. The company changed the name to the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway in 1863. As with the other railroads, train tracks were laid in wilderness areas or land settled by ranchers and farmers, whose homesteads were miles from each other. The depots allowed the ranchers and farmers to send their products to market and for pioneers to obtain supplies. The railroad served as a reliable, convenient, and safe method for travel across the continent.

From the railroad depots, small towns sprang up. The depot of any given town served as a center of activity, where news arrived by telegraph, and where locals and visitors traveled to and from the small town. As the community grew around the train station, structures related to the maintenance of a railway were required. Businesses opened to answer the needs of the settlers in the towns and the travelers passing through. These towns soon required community structures, so hotels and general stores were built.

As expected, the AT&SF maintained depots strategically along the primary and secondary routes. For the rural towns, these depots were combination stations for both passengers and freight. Larger cities required separate passenger and freight structures.

The AT&SF architectural drawings offer an interesting glimpse into the types of structures required for running a railway throughout a largely unpopulated swath of land primarily in the Midwest and Southwest. The railway required structures for the foreman’s office, file rooms, supply and lavatory buildings, locker rooms, blacksmith shops, welding shops, storage sheds, and buildings for the car inspectors and coach cleaning. The AT&SF collection includes drawings for numerous types of power and boiler houses. Larger railroad compounds included round houses, large round structures with turntables used for repairing locomotives, in addition to car repair and machine shops, and engine houses. Drawings for other maintenance structures were designed for waste refuse, water treatment, and paint and carpenter shops. Drawings included those for railroad platforms to receive passengers and the mail. The AT&SF collection also includes an architectural drawing for an apprentice school.

The headquarters for the AT&SF was in Chicago. The collection includes numerous drawings for the remodel and decorating of the vice president and executive offices within the Railroad Exchange Building. Additional drawings include yard office and storage facilities.


Panhandle Depot Floor Plan (Sheet 1)
Panhandle Depot Floor Plan (Sheet 1)

The depot at Panhandle, Texas is a good example a combination depot. The depot was designed by E. A. Harrison in Chicago, in June 1927. The floor plan shows the basic arrangement, with one side of the long structure restricted to freight, while the other side includes an office, baggage room, express room, platform, and boiler room (Sheet 1/7). This architectural drawing reflects the United States’ history of racial prejudice and segregation. While there is a large general waiting room, there are separate waiting rooms with bathroom facilities for men, women, and African Americans (labeled Negro).

Panhandle Depot Elevation (Sheet 2)
Panhandle Depot Elevation (Sheet 2)

The elevations of the depot on Sheet 2/7 also include both the front, back, and side elevations. This drawing includes architectural details.

AT&SF & Community

The AT&SF was involved with a surprising number of structures not directly related to the daily operation and maintenance of the railroad. The structures supported the daily life of the workmen, as well as the passengers and the community. Some of the drawings are additions and/or alterations to existing buildings created by the company that required expansion. To support the growing number of settlers and travelers going West, these structures included bunk houses for the workmen, lunchrooms, reading rooms, commissaries, laundries, recreation halls, and hotels.

It is commonly known that Fred Harvey and his descendants worked with the AT&SF to offer lunches served at the Harvey Houses by the Harvey Girls. Some of the drawings produced by the AT&SF were created for the Fred Harvey Company, including lunchrooms, creameries, hotels, and cafeteria-camper lodge buildings. Architectural drawings of the Harvey Houses are included in the collection.


Within this collection are architectural drawings of buildings in a small town named Slaton, Texas, located just southeast of Lubbock. In May an architecture professor and I took the short trip to have lunch at the Slaton Harvey House. We received a tour with stories by the daughter of a former Harvey Girl. While the AT&SF architectural drawing collection does not include the drawings for the Slaton Harvey House, the collection has drawings of the surrounding structures, including the reading room, heating house, and round house. The Slaton Harvey House still stands, but the AT&SF structures for which we have the drawings have long since been demolished.

Slaton Reading Room Elevations & Details (Sheet 2)

The railway maintained reading rooms that served as the all-around resource for their workers at the end of the work shift, as a place to bathe, sleep, read, and wait for the next returning train home. In addition to magazines and books, the reading rooms offered exercise opportunities and wholesome entertainment. The reading rooms also served as places for educational lectures and performance entertainment for the workers, their families, and sometimes the community. Accordingly, each reading room was maintained by a librarian.

The Slaton Reading Room was designed by C.Y. Morse and built in 1912. The collection includes seven drawings of the structure. Architectural drawing includes both front, rear, and side elevations, along with interior details of the staircase and counter (Sheet 2/7).

Slaton Reading Room Floor Plan (Sheet 1)
Slaton Reading Room Floor Plan (Sheet 1)

The building floor plan (Sheet 1/7) offers the arrangement of the first floor with rooms assigned to specific activities: billiards, cards and reading. The librarian’s living quarters has a kitchen, bedroom, and private stairs to the librarian’s basement with a laundry tub. The basement also has the public bath and boiler room. The second floor has 18 possible bedrooms and two baths, one with laundry tub and a linen closet. Each floor includes a veranda that extends the length of the facade. The set includes five drawings of interior and exterior details, including windows, doors, and counters. The drawings were completed in Topeka.


Rest House at Hermit's Rim Elevations (Sheet 3)
Rest House at Hermit’s Rim Elevations (Sheet 3)

Plans for the Rest House on Hermit’s Rim at the Grand Canyon is a set of six architectural drawings produced in Chicago and dated May 9, 1914. The elevation for the structure includes both the facade and the fireplace (Sheet 3/6). In addition to the massive fireplace, caretaker’s cottage and kitchenette, the floor plan includes the layout for the porch, pillars, and stone wall at the facade (Sheet 1/6). The unique quality of the structure can be seen in the roof made of rock stone, concrete, and wood (Sheet 2, not seen here).

Rest House at Hermit’s Rim Floor Plan (Sheet 1)

The drawings for the Rest House were created by AT&SF for the Fred Harvey Company. While the architect’s name is not given on the drawings, it is known that Mary Colter worked for the Fred Harvey Company and that she is the architect of record. The drawing includes additional elevations, sections, and details.

Other Harvey Facilities

In addition to newly designed structures, the collection includes drawings for alteration and additions to the Harvey House in Barstow, California, as well as additions to the Harvey House in Gallup, New Mexico, and alterations to the Harvey House in Amarillo, Texas. The collection includes drawings for the remodel of a Harvey House in Hutchison, Kansas. The AT&SF also prepared drawings for the Fred Harvey Company for a creamery in Las Vegas, New Mexico and a sandwich packing room in Newton, Kansas.

The AT&SF Railway also produced drawings for additions and/or alterations for hotels in Gallup, New Mexico and Williams, Arizona. In addition, the collection includes drawings for the alteration, remodeling, and additions to the Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque and plans for the dining room at the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe. For the Grand Canyon, there are drawings for a remodeling of the cafeteria-campers lodge building.


It is unknown how many structures were built from these drawings and if these drawings were the final version used to build or renovate existing structures. We do know that photographs of some of the architecture constructed from these drawings may be found in archives around the country. Photographs of buildings that were designed and constructed for AT&SF, including those from architectural drawings in the Texas Tech Southwest Collection, can be found online at the Kansas Memory website:

The Southwest Collection has just begun to digitize the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe collection; a few drawings are currently available for viewing at the following website:


Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway Company: An Inventory of Its Records, 1905-1973. Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University.

Berke, Arnold. Mary Colter: Architect of the Southwest. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002.

Bray, Frank Chapin. “Social Centers for Railroad Men.” The Chautauquan 39:4 (June 1904) 865-867.

Bryant, Keith L. Jr. History of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1974.

Grant, H. Roger and Charles W. Bohi. The Country Railroad Station in America. Boulder: Pruett Publishing Company 1978.

Kansas Memory website: (accessed 11.25.2014)

Latimer, Rosa Walston. Harvey Houses of Texas: Historic Hospitality from the Gulf to the Panhandle. Charleston: History Press, 2014.

Weigle, Marta Babcock, Barbara A. The Great Southwest of the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railway. Phoenix: The Herd Museum, 1996.

Riskin, Marci L. The Train Stops Here: New Mexico’s Railway Legacy. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005.

A radical resurgence in print periodicals: Archizines

By Kathy Edwards, Research & Collection Development Librarian, Emery A. Gunnin Architecture Library, Clemson University

Last year a young architecture professor came into my office in Clemson University’s Gunnin Architecture Library to request that we subscribe to two new periodicals: CLOG and Pidgin. Both are architectural ‘zines published only in print. CLOG, founded by independent young architects, critics and bloggers, began publication in October 2011; Pidgin has been produced by graduate students at Princeton University’s School of Architecture since 2006.

My usual response to faculty requests is, “Of course–I’ll do that today.” This time I hedged and considered twice before forwarding a request for CLOG (but not Pidgin) to our acquisitions director. Architecture librarians will best understand why my reaction in this instance was…complicated. My hesitation wasn’t over Pidgin’s annoying lack of a subscription model, nor CLOG’s equally annoying disregard, in recent issues, for basic bibliographic conventions.* The real bogeyman is the P word: Like many of you, I face persistent pressure from Higher-Ups to do away with print serials subscriptions.

Of Clemson Libraries’ 45,000+ current periodicals subscriptions, some 200 are titles available only in print. More than half of these come to my branch library, home to collections supporting art, architecture, landscape architecture, city planning, real estate development, historic preservation, and construction science & management. The most recent nudge from On High to divest of more print came four weeks ago, in the form of a spreadsheet from our new Collections Management team listing 27 print magazine and journal titles on our current periodicals shelves that happen also to be available online via commercial aggregators. With the spreadsheet came the request that I indicate which print titles to cancel, based on this apparent ‘duplication’. At Clemson, subject liaisons routinely weed periodical holdings based on full-content duplication in JSTOR or Project Muse, but until now we have never been asked to cut print subscriptions based on online offerings in aggregated commercial packages.

Uncomfortable with this request, I sent the list out to faculty members for input and used their responses as basis for retaining all but one of the print subscriptions. I suspect, however, that faculty insistence will not carry the day for very long.

Prisons, pg. 70

In the last decade, electronic formats have completely transformed information delivery and access across most academic disciplines, in some disciplines (engineering, chemistry, physics) displacing print entirely. This technological transformation of the information landscape has altered not just the expectations of those seeking access to these resources, but also attitudes and practices within the library profession itself. In a nutshell, print–for all manner of publications but particularly as a format for journals and magazines–is becoming harder and harder to sustain or defend. Most of us can readily recite the reasons for this:

From a user’s perspective, stuff in print is downright inconvenient: you have to go to a library to get it, once in your possession you have to keep track of it and protect it from harm, you can have it only for a limited time, if you want an image out of it you need access to a scanner, and once you’re done with it you have to return it or face stringent fines. Only one person at a time can use a given issue, and if the issue you want is in offsite storage there’s a request form to fill out, along with that whole delayed-gratification thing Millennials don’t handle very well (it goes against expectations). Worse, what if you wait for it only to discover it wasn’t what you’d hoped for or needed? Some titles may even be library-use-only, yet few academic libraries can afford to be open 24/7, and what about students in programs abroad, or faculty on sabbatical? Anyone without ready access to the library is out of luck, unless offsite delivery is an option–where that’s feasible.

Compare all these negatives to the wonderful world of electronic ‘get-it-now from anywhere at any time’. Conclusion: print is passé.

Prisions, pg. 53
Prisions, pg. 53

From the library’s perspective, stuff in print requires effort: mail room and acquisitions staff, catalogers, and circulation staff physically track, handle, label, stamp, transfer, and shelve each individual issue. When it comes time to bind accumulated issues of retained titles, all of this handling is repeated in reverse, after which a new item–the bound volume–returns along the same hand-to-hand chain.

Stuff in print takes up more than its fair share of space: first on specialized periodical display shelves, which can’t be used for much else; then in the stacks until enough volumes accumulate to send some off to a remote storage facility which is, all too often, already stuffed to the rafters.

Stuff in print continues to cost money long past the date of receipt: Binding has to be budgeted for, as do transport, storage, re-cataloging, and reshelving. Print means more processing, materials, real estate, and staff time.

Finally, for libraries, stuff in print represents pressure on a service provision workflow increasingly constricted by staff reductions and crimped budgets.

Given that a significant number of important architecture and art periodicals remain available only in print, it is no wonder that collection managers bring this divest-of-print pressure to bear on the stewards of design collections.

Yet print as a format does have its avid defenders, for all kinds of reasons variously legitimate, radically disruptive, or downright fuddy-duddy:

Compared to e-formats print is relatively ‘permanent’; it affords portability independent of electronics and network restrictions or malfunctions; image quality is often superior; readability is definitely superior; for a good deal of the population print is a deeply ingrained information medium; and print inherently adds value by presenting information in context, providing opportunities for serendipitous discoveries–something many educators consider fundamental to active learning and the creation of new knowledge.

Banners defending print’s virtues are hoisted most often (but not exclusively) by readers, scholars, and designers educated before the Great Digital Revolution.

Who would have guessed, then, that the last five years or so would bring a resurgence of print as a medium for documenting, challenging, even provoking design ideas. This rising tide–in the form of ‘little magazines’ with big and often radical ambitions–is taking on the proportions of a Movement, a global yet decentralized agitprop bent on shaking up professional norms, commercial mediocrity, architectural clichés, and the Internet’s “hot new project as twenty-second eye candy” ephemeral culture. The website, which tracks and promotes this ‘new in print’ phenomenon, currently lists and links to at least 89 recently launched titles from 26 countries across six continents, and adds new titles regularly.

CLOG is one of the best of these and certainly one of the most interesting. Its founders and principals–all young and independent professionals–are motivated by the conviction that architectural projects presented in digital forums today (whether online journalism, blogs, Twitter, image platforms, or discussion lists) rush into public view at such great speed and high volume that critical apprehension is completely undone. Observing that “mere exposure has taken the place of thoughtful engagement, not to mention a substantial discussion,” the editors proclaim the magazine’s raison d’être at the front of every issue:

CLOG slows things down. Each issue explores, from multiple viewpoints and through a variety of means, a single subject particularly relevant to architecture now. Succinctly, on paper, away from the distractions and imperatives on the screen.”

Ink on paper as a medium, in other words, becomes both refuge and provocation–meaningful and intentional, falling back on print’s ability to fix and juxtapose words and images on a two-page spread, focus attention, and ratchet the decibel level down to where engaged dialog becomes possible. Since the ‘zine launched in 2011, themed issues have explored a single firm (B.I.G.), a brand (Apple), a building type (prisons), a style (Brutalism), a city (Miami), an integral design activity (rendering), a landscape (the National Mall), an architect (Rem), a genre (sci-fi), and so on, via dense, multi-authored text more akin to a blog-tweets mashup than to conventionally presented exposition.

CLOG has proven itself significant enough to be included in the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, but its treatment there is problematic: rather than a citation for each individually authored or titled contribution in an issue (of which there are many), each issue is reduced to a single citation, defined by its theme. Without actually picking up and browsing the “Prisons” issue, then, one would have no way to know that its contributors include a former convict, two public prosecutors, architect and critic Michael Sorkin, and the artist Ai Weiwei, among more than a dozen others. Likewise individual photographs, diagrams, plans, and sketches throughout, however named and specific, are inaccessible to search except as illustrations of the overall issue theme.

Despite–and, one might argue, largely because of–the challenges this little magazine’s structure and content present to traditional indexing, CLOG is an intriguing and importantly provocative new architecture serial, and emblematic of a print resurgence that requires our attention and accommodation now. But first the vision of what architecture libraries are and should provide must continue to accommodate print serials for as long as this resurgence plays out.

*Note to CLOG publishers: Your mag is a quarterly; would it kill you to assign something as cataloger-friendly as volume or issue numbers? The year alone, and only on the back cover, doesn’t cut it.

Harnessing the Power of 3D Technologies for Library and Archives Collections

By Amy Trendler, Architecture Librarian, and Carol Street, Archivist for Architectural Records, Ball State University Libraries

Two ongoing projects in the Architecture Library and the Drawings + Documents Archive at Ball State University are making use of new technologies to augment the collections, engage the students, and raise the profile of these branch operations of the University Libraries. Physically located in the College of Architecture and Planning’s Architecture Building on campus, the library and archive are well-situated to provide collections and services to the students and faculty members who make up their primary user group. As these users incorporate new technologies such as 3D modeling software and 3D printing into their projects, staff in the library and archive have sought out ways to use these same technologies to interpret the collections.

Example of a Revit file from the project featuring a bench from Keystone Ridge Designs catalog of site furnishings.
Example of a Revit file from the project featuring a bench from Keystone Ridge Designs catalog of site furnishings.

3D Modeling Software Enhances the Materials Collection

In the Architecture Library, student workers in the Visual Resources Collection (VRC) are creating files using the 3D modeling software Revit for items in the Building Material Samples Collection. Begun in 2009, the Building Material Samples Collection makes innovative and sustainable materials available to students and faculty for study purposes. Items may also be checked out for four days and taken to studio or displayed during presentations. The collection consists of more than 600 material samples for surfaces, structural or technical building components, hardscape products, and more. In addition to samples, the collection also contains product literature for materials that are too large or unwieldy for the manufacturer to produce samples.

It was the items in this last category, the ones that are too big to be samples, that were the inspiration for the VRC’s growing collection of Revit files. A student worker suggested making Revit files of these objects that users could incorporate into their 3D designs in the same way that they can use objects from the file-sharing site Revit City. The library staff immediately recognized the value in enhancing the usability of the materials collection, we were able to work out the details of storing and accessing the files, and thus the Revit project was born. Students can now download the files of street furniture, lighting, and other materials from a library server (which is password-protected for use by current university students and faculty members) and insert the objects into their projects. A jpg of each item provides a quick view; once downloaded, the Revit version of the file is fully integrated into the project and can be manipulated with the tools available in the software. If a student wants to use the file in a different program, he or she can open the file in Revit (using this software on a library computer if he or she doesn’t have a copy), save it in another CAD format, then import the file into a program such as Rhino or SketchUp.

Example of a Revit file from the project featuring a drinking fountain from Most Dependable Fountains catalog of outdoor products.
Example of a Revit file from the project featuring a drinking fountain from Most Dependable Fountains catalog of outdoor products.

The Next Phase of the Project: Surfaces

The next phase of the Revit project will see the addition of surface materials from the collection that can be applied to surfaces on a building or object in Revit. There is a range of standard materials available in Revit, but now students will be able to easily apply the unique textures and patterns of materials found on samples in the Building Material Samples Collection such as woven coconut shell panels or translucent concrete to the walls, floors, ceilings, and other surfaces in their designs. Samples of these materials are available for study in the collection, but the Revit file gives students the option of going beyond a simple material swatch and applying the material to surfaces in their designs.

Response to the Revit project from students and faculty members has been positive, and use of the files will likely only increase as the collection grows. For the library staff, the Revit project has been a great way to make the materials collection even more accessible to students. A side benefit for the student workers assigned to the project is that they are expanding and refining their Revit skills, and in the case of student assistant Susan Smith her Revit skills helped her get a summer internship at a design firm. It is especially fitting that Smith was able to capitalize on her involvement in the Revit project because the project was her idea in the first place. “I was inspired to suggest the project because I thought it would be a great way to attract students into the VRC,” she said. “[I hope] students will see it as an opportunity to utilize the library’s material resources in a format they can actually incorporate into their projects.”

Wysor Grand Opera House 3D rendering (2014) and original drawing (1891). Indiana Architecture X 3D, Drawings + Documents Archive, Ball State University Libraries.
Wysor Grand Opera House 3D rendering (2014) and original drawing (1891). Indiana Architecture X 3D, Drawings + Documents Archive, Ball State University Libraries.

3D Applications in the Archive

A similar project at the Drawings + Documents Archive has garnered interest for its use of 3D prints to bring a long-lost 19th century building to life. The archive, begun shortly after the College of Architecture and Planning opened in 1966, collects, preserves, and provides access to records of Indiana’s built environment. Collections are used to support undergraduate and graduate student learning in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, and historic preservation. The students in the latter group, historic preservation, naturally gravitate toward the materials in the archives and readily grasp their usefulness for course assignments. It became apparent that students from the more technology-driven fields of architecture, landscape architecture, and planning would benefit from interpreting the collections in an interesting, technologically-centric way that brought the focus back to the original drawings. Thus, printing models from the drawings was born out of this desire to present the collections to students in a new way and spark their interest in archival materials.

3D modeling process for column with wrought iron ornamentation and cast iron balcony railing, 2014. Indiana Architecture X 3D, Drawings + Documents Archive, Ball State University Libraries.
3D modeling process for column with wrought iron ornamentation and cast iron balcony railing, 2014. Indiana Architecture X 3D, Drawings + Documents Archive, Ball State University Libraries.

The Indiana Architecture X 3D (IAx3D) project began in fall 2013 with a set of archival drawings for a local building with an interesting history. The Wysor Grand Opera House was built in downtown Muncie, Indiana, by the architect Henry W. Matson in 1891. This impressive Romanesque Revival opera house exemplified the architectural exuberance and rapid growth during the area’s natural gas boom that inspired numerous factories and businesses, including the famous Ball Brothers Company, to relocate to Muncie. The building’s history follows the changing fortunes and tastes of the city by undergoing renovations to become a popular movie theater in the 1920s that later lost business when other theaters opened outside of the declining downtown. The building was torn down in 1967, during a period of urban renewal that students today still try to comprehend.

The Wysor Grand Opera House’s history, as well as the archive’s set of high-quality, ink on linen drawings, makes this building a great discussion starter for many class visits to the archive. For these reasons it seemed an ideal candidate for launching the IAX3D project. Architecture department graduate assistants assigned to the archive used digital scans of the linen drawings, first working with elements such as columns and wrought iron railings on the detail sheets, to create underlays in the program Rhino. On top of these, they traced over the lines to create baselines and used program tools to create volumes and surfaces. The process of converting irregular hand-drawn lines to smooth computer-generated forms proved challenging to the students working on the project, but it also increased their appreciation of the original drawings. Graduate assistant Austin Pontius remarked that as hard as it was to trace some of the drawings for the intricate ironwork, he was impressed that someone had drawn it by hand over 100 years ago.

Digital Media Repository screenshot for column with wrought iron ornamentation and cast iron balcony railing, 2014. Indiana Architecture X 3D, Drawings + Documents Archive, Ball State University Libraries.
Digital Media Repository screenshot for column with wrought iron ornamentation and cast iron balcony railing, 2014. Indiana Architecture X 3D, Drawings + Documents Archive, Ball State University Libraries.

Over the first year of the project, nine Wysor Grand Opera House details have been printed and the entire building has been modeled but not printed at this time. The entire collection is available online at the University Libraries’ Digital Media Repository. Each entry in the collection contains an object (OBJ) file to allow easy, computer mouse enabled manipulation of the 3D rendering for anyone with an adequate browser. The original drawing sheet from which that detail originated is pictured below the object to inspire comparisons from the digital to the original. The downloadable print-ready Rhino 3D model file (3DM) is available in the metadata in case patrons or educators would like to make their own prints.

Student and faculty reaction to the IAX3D project has been enthusiastically positive. Because the models are created using technology many of the students use or aspire to use, students naturally gravitate toward them and begin to ask questions about the building’s history, design, or even the process of creating the models. While the 3D models could never supplant the importance of the original drawings, they do serve as a vital bridge that connects students’ current interests in 3D printing with historical materials.

Doors Open: Toronto and Beyond

By Allana Mayer

Now in its fifteenth year, and steadily adding buildings of note to its roster, Doors Open Toronto is a city-wide weekend festival that encourages architectural exploration and urban-planning discussion. Public and private locations open their doors to the public; special events include lectures, walking tours, and a photography contest; everything is free.

France lays claim to founding “La Journee Portes Ouvertes” in 1984, but Doors Open events are now popular all over the world. Toronto is inordinately proud of its participation, claiming to be the first in North America. The events themselves are not governed by any sort of international Doors Open committee; participation is entirely self-proclaimed — and can range from small towns and municipalities, to province-wide affairs, to entire countries.

Bridgepoint Hospital expansion, left, on the former Don Jail, right. Photo courtesy of Doors Open Toronto.

The mandate being vague (often billed only as “a celebration”), sometimes the purpose of Doors Open events can be obscure. In Toronto, it provides all of: exclusive access to private spaces; guided tours for public spaces; special events and discussions; outreach opportunities for little-utilized public services; and promotional opportunities for new buildings and services. Of the former in recent years, crowd favourites have been tours of the Historic Don Jail (before its renovation into the Bridgepoint Hospital), the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, the Russell Carhouse (for maintaining Toronto’s iconic red streetcars), and the long-abandoned Crystal Ballroom at the King Edward Hotel.

The R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant. Photo courtesy Doors Open Toronto.

The philosophical underpinning of the event is, in essence, democratization: making private spaces public, and increasing knowledge about public spaces. This can be interpreted in a number of ways: is the experience of visiting a participating site about the architecture found there, or to learn architectural history generally, or just to see what might not normally be seen? The online directory describes the buildings by year of construction, style, and building function, and there is a short summary of the experience on offer, so tourists can tailor the weekend to their particular interests. Often tours will include a bit of everything: the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, for example, showcased both the renovations of their historic house (from 1858) and the history of the organization, as well as their ongoing exhibits and collections.

(Notable about Doors Open Toronto is their release of data-sets through Open Data Toronto: while they don’t produce a festival app every year, their data are free for developers to work with, and they actively encourage third-party apps for maps and festival guides.)

As more locations across the world join in the tradition, we can predict an upswing in citizen-scholars, casual architecture and heritage discussions, and new and innovative entries into built-heritage events and initiatives.

Of particular interest to architecture librarians and archivists will be opportunities to capitalize on or help coordinate these events. There are plenty of ways to communicate with organizing bodies in your area, to offer expertise and perform outreach, or to feature your collections, exhibits, and resources. In Toronto, the city and provincial archives organize showcases adhering to both the yearly theme and the interests of architecture and urban-planning enthusiasts: maps, land deeds, floor plans, news clippings, and vintage photographs.

Inside the Toronto Archives. Photo courtesy of Doors Open Toronto.

Toronto’s populist theme for this year focused on ghost stories, mysterious disappearances, and supernatural experiences throughout the city. However, there were plenty of recently-completed entrants in the festival, with no such stories to share.

New buildings of particular note to heritage aficionados include the Toronto International Film Festival Centre (and its TIFF Film Reference Library), and the new Archives Ontario headquarters at York University. These three examples of modern architectural work complement Toronto’s recent wave of cultural-heritage renovation (most notably the addition of the Libeskind-designed Michael Lee-Chin Crystal to the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Gehry redesign of the Art Gallery of Ontario).

The new Archives Ontario building at York University. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A number of speaking events included a lightning-round session of architects, urban planners, and artists discussing Toronto-specific projects and issues. While some designers took this opportunity to showboat their portfolios, many chose to delve deep into particular problems or overarching theories.

The very first presentation spoke to ideas of heritage and preservation, and how to make time for the past in heady, forward-thinking days; another presentation simply urged audience members to change their thinking from “When will the Gardiner Expressway [an elevated highway dividing most of downtown Toronto from the shore of Lake Ontario] finally be torn down?” to “How soon can we make it happen?”

The crumbling Gardiner Expressway. Photo courtesy of CBC.

Amidst all this activity, the question remains: How do these participatory events change people’s knowledge of and interaction with our urban spaces? Or is the focus on architecture a sort of ruse for generalized PR opportunities, billed as educational but merely passive tourism? Of course promoting access and use of resources is both economically and socially beneficial, whether public or private; the question is whether people stay engaged after the weekend’s events.

The statistic I have to offer here is, unfortunately, unsourceable: an archivist for the Toronto Archives mentioned in conversation to me that they see about 800 new visitors every year due to Doors Open — “new” meaning people who would likely have never set foot inside their institution otherwise. Besides being an argument for better metrics for cultural heritage institutions and events, it is hard to conclude the festival’s success in promoting education and participation. I’ve been hard-pressed to find online discussion of the lightning session, for example, even though the room was packed and plenty of audience members asked questions.

There is a fantastic opportunity for scholarly and popular studies on how the public interprets and engages with architecture, and how those interactions change with new programming such as Doors Open (much like the opportunity to study engagement with libraries). I, and many other cultural heritage professionals, am curious (and grossly under-informed) as to where the line gets drawn between architects who create new work and those who work for restoration and protection of existing buildings. Where cultural-heritage and built-heritage discussions cross over and converge must necessarily be a discussion for another time.

Inside Modern Texas

By Martha Gonzalez


Last April, during the Society of Architectural Historians 2014 Annual Conference held in Austin, the Architecture & Planning Library at The University of Texas at Austin opened “Inside Modern Texas: The Case for Preserving Interiors.” This exhibition offers insight on interior design during the period 1945 to 1975, touching upon the development of the profession and the issues faced today in historic preservation. Texas interiors from this period serve as case studies to illustrate emerging ideas in design and practice.

Emily Ardoin, a Historic Preservation graduate student, curated the exhibit through a new program that offers opportunities to School of Architecture graduate students to gain experience in research and curation using materials from the Alexander Architectural Archives and the Special Collections of the Architecture & Planning Library. “Inside Texas” includes photographs, original drawings and printed materials from these collections featuring architects and interior designers active in Texas such as George L. Dahl, Harwell Hamilton Harris, Karl Kamrath, Howard R. Meyer and John Astin Perkins.

Emily Ardoin at the opening of "Inside Texas"
Emily Ardoin at the opening of “Inside Texas”

Mid-twentieth-century buildings are gaining widespread acceptance as candidates for historic preservation, but few retain their original modern interiors. Because they are so closely connected to human activity, interiors can be especially important conveyors of historic significance, but they are highly vulnerable to changing tastes and functional requirements. The perceived impermanent nature of interior design components, and historic preservation legislation which often focuses on building exteriors, further complicates preservation efforts.

Repositories such as the Alexander Architectural Archive and the Architecture & Planning Library provide opportunities to study the history of design because they preserve historic documentation of interiors. In this case, these materials allowed Emily to create a window in to the richness of modern interiors across Texas.