Category Archives: Archives

A Visit to London: Attending ARLIS UK & Ireland

Rebecca Price
Architecture, Urban Planning & Visual Resources Librarian, University of Michigan

Thames View
River Thames View

It is with great delight that I report on my recent trip to London, England. I feel fortunate to have been able both to attend the ARLIS UK & Ireland conference and to extend my stay so that I could visit a number of architecture and design libraries.

Though marked by uncharacteristically sweltering heat and dry weather, my visit was tremendously productive and meaningful in that I visited several architecture libraries and talked with their librarians. I am very grateful to support from the Kress Foundation as well as supplemental professional development funds from the University of Michigan Library making the trip possible.

Digital Fabrication at The Building Centre

The conference (July 26-27) offered two full days of programming and a day of tours of selected London libraries. I found the presentations interesting, inspiring, and highly relevant to my work. Some personal favorites were a session on the use of Special Collections to support creativity and critical thinking in the studio as well as the classroom. It was a lesson in using eccentric objects and deliberately odd experiences to provide the unexpected for students. In addition, there were several presentations on artist’s books and their value in highlighting current issues and social themes, as well as in providing meaningful hands-on learning experiences. I presented on the use and value of materials collections and happily heard several other papers offering new perspectives and experiences related to materials collections.

Materials at Central St. Martin’s, London

Four keynote speakers spoke over the two days.  With keen insight and humor, they brought new points of view challenging our norms of practice and thought. They each spoke to broader issues of librarianship, particularly in arts or special libraries. Each one challenged us to reconsider our definitions of the typical librarian, the typical library user, and the typical library. I was particularly impressed by how their words asked us to think about how our teaching methodologies and collection practices can lead to silences and excluded voices.

On the Saturday after the sessions, the organizers offered an optional tour day. I participated in two museum library tours; the National Gallery Library and the Tate Britain Library. It was truly special to be able to walk through their library collections and archives in spaces that only their library and curatorial staff can access. Particularly fascinating in the Tate Britain Archives was a model ship used by Turner in many of his seascapes and depictions of sea battles.  Everyone was exceedingly generous with their time and knowledge.

Turner’s Ship Model, Tate Britain
Turner Seascape, Tate Britain

 

 

 

 

 

 

A high point of the trip was being able to take the time to visit six art/architecture libraries. I pre-arranged meetings with each of the art and architecture librarians. Highlights were touring collections and spaces, and talking with librarians and staff at the Architectural Association, the Bartlett at University College London, the Royal College of Art, Central St. Martin’s College of Art & Design, Ravensbourne University, and RIBA.

RIBA Collections, London

They graciously took the time to meet with me and talk about their libraries. It was especially inspiring to learn from them, to see their collections, and to discover the challenges that we share and those that are different.

The biggest take-away for me was realizing the surprising similarities in the work of the arts librarian in the UK and the arts librarian in North America.

Interactive Visitor Art, Tate Modern, London

In addition, I visited a few materials collections, twelve museums, and two historic houses.  I chose to visit several museums focused on art and design (The Design Museum, The Fashion and Textile Museum, The Tate Modern and Tate Britain, The V&A, The National Gallery, Sir John Soane’s Museum) and some focused more on the social history of the city (The Museum of London, The Museum of London Docklands, The Transport Museum, The Foundling Museum, and The Tower of London).

Design Museum London, Words

And there were the fun hours walking through the neighborhoods and parks of London.

Attending the ARLIS UK & Ireland conference gave me the opportunity to talk with and hear from numerous international colleagues and to gain a much deeper understanding of their work. If any of you are given the opportunity to attend in the future, I highly recommend it. And as librarians visit us from other countries, I hope that we open our collections to them as generously as was done for me.

Digitizing the F. Blair Reeves Papers

Jessica Aberle
Architecture and Fine Arts Library, University of Florida

PIN Sign
PIN (Preservation Institute Nantucket), Univ of Florida

In the spring of 2017, Professor Morris Hylton III, the Program Director for Historic Preservation at the University of Florida, approached the George A. Smathers Libraries with a proposal to digitize material related to the Preservation Institute Nantucket(PIN), which will celebrate its fiftieth year in 2022.  PIN was founded in 1972 by F. Blair Reeves, a faculty member in the School of Architecture at the University of Florida, in partnership with Walter Beinecke, Jr.

The F. Blair Reeves Papers in the Architecture Archives include correspondence, grant proposals, course material, and photographs that all document the foundation, history, and culture of the early years of PIN. In order to make this material accessible through digitization, we applied to the Strategic Opportunities Grant Program (SOP), which is internally funded by the Smathers Libraries. Through this program, the team (which included faculty and staff from the Department of Special and Area Studies Collections, Preservation, and Digital Production Services) was able to secure funds to digitize roughly 6,000 pages from the F. Blair Reeves Papers and to document related PIN material held in other collections and sometimes, offices.

Nantucket, Oldest House
Oldest House, Nantucket, 1686

During July of 2017, I traveled to Nantucket (escaping the Florida heat for a few days) to visit the Research Library of the Nantucket Historical Association(NHA) and the PIN Studios. The NHA is one of the official repositories for PIN material which includes the PIN Archives, student reports, and Historic Structure Reports. I took a rough estimate of the materials that had accumulated in the PIN Studio in Sherburne Hall over the years. This material included student reports, exhibit material, posters, program files, working drawings, and the wooden signs that the students created every summer for the PIN studio. I was only able to document the various formats and take a rough estimate of the quantity of material during my brief visit. Full documentation will have to await the transfer of materials to the Architecture Archives at the University of Florida. Whenever the PIN Studio and the Research Library was closed, I took the opportunity to see as much of Nantucket as possible!

Nantucket Old Mill
Old Mill, Nantucket, 1746

In the fall of 2017 Digital Production Services began digitizing the materials selected from F. Blair Reeves Papers. In the end, they scanned 6,315 pages of material and digitized several audio files. The grant also allowed us to fund a graduate student research assistant who documented the materials that had accumulated in the current PIN offices at the University of Florida. Our research assistant worked both fall and spring semesters to organize and document twelve boxes of archival material that were transferred to the Architecture Archives this past spring. He documented the dates, significant people associated with the materials, format, quantity, and a brief description, which will aid in the creation of a finding aid for the collection. I was also able to identify additional collections here at UF that contain PIN material including oral histories and student work.

The project funded by the SOP grant is just now wrapping up. Our priority moving forward is to continue to digitize PIN material locally from some of the newly identified collections.

For those interested in PIN, you can learn about its early history through the F. Blair Reeves Papers. The digitized material is available in the University of Florida Digital Collections: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/pin. We will continue to add material over the next few weeks, so please do check back. If you would like to know more about either PIN or the newly launched Preservation Institute St. Augustine (PISA), information can be found on the website for the Historic Preservation Program in the College of Design, Construction, and Planning at the University of Florida.

New Research Guide for Getty Research Library’s Architecture and Design Collections

Model of Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, California, Frank Gehry, 2003. Frank Gehry Papers. The Getty Research Institute. © Frank O. Gehry
Model of Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, California, Frank Gehry, 2003. Frank Gehry Papers. The Getty Research Institute. © Frank O. Gehry

By Aimee Lind, Getty Research Library

For scholars, researchers, and fans of architecture and design, a new research guide is available that provides an introduction to the Getty Research Library’s substantial archival holdings on this topic.

The architecture and design collections of the Getty Research Library include a vast array of materials related to architecture and design. These diverse resources reveal the complex dimensions of the design process, from initial sketches and study models to evocative final renderings, detailed construction drawings, and published promotional photographs. The collection’s extensive archival materials include letters, notebooks, audiovisual materials and ephemera that outline the evolving themes and issues of architectural discourse. International holdings date from 1500 to the present, with concentrations in 19th- and 20th-century avant-garde movements and mid-20th-century modernism.

Highlights of the collection include the archives of progressive Southern California architects Frank Gehry, Pierre Koenig, John Lautner, Ray Kappe, Frank Israel, and William Krisel; international projects by Coop Himmelb(l)au, Peter Eisenman, Yona Friedman, Zaha Hadid, Philip Johnson, Daniel Libeskind, Aldo Rossi, Bernard Rudofsky, Lebbeus Woods, and Frank Lloyd Wright; the influential architectural photography of Julius Shulman and Lucien Hervé; and the papers of Reyner Banham, Ada Louise Huxtable, and Nikolaus Pevsner.

The Architecture & Design Collections Research Guide was created with the aim of assembling these resources in one place, making the breadth and depth of the GRI’s holdings in these subject areas easier to grasp and research simpler to undertake. The Research Guide is a work in progress. Though it is not designed to be comprehensive, an attempt has been made to include all major archival collections as well as individual materials connected to important figures.

The Architecture & Design Collections Research Guide is divided into the following sections:

Welcome & Getting Started serves as an introduction to our library, our holdings, as well as key points regarding access.

Papers of Architects & Designers is an alphabetical list of architects and designers represented in our archival collections, complete with holdings summaries and links to the Primo record.

Papers of Architectural Critics & Historians is an alphabetical list of architectural critics and historians represented in our archival collections, complete with holdings summaries and links to the Primo record.

Architectural Photography Archives is an alphabetical list of photographers of the built environment represented in our archival collections, complete with holdings summaries and links to the Primo record.

Notable Southern California Modernism Collections gathers the Getty’s notable holdings in Southern California Modernism into one page, with links to both the Primo record and the full collection Finding Aids.

California Architecture Collections Search Portal is a custom search that only returns records with the terms “architect*” (architecture, architect, architectural, etc.) and “ca*” (California, Calif., CA, etc.) in subject headings, thereby streamlining the search process and bringing back only results that are highly relevant to the architects and architecture of California.

Bauhaus Resources gathers the Getty’s important Bauhaus holdings into one page, complete with holdings summaries and links to the Primo record. As 2019 marks the centenary of the founding of the school, these resources are sure to be in great demand.

Other Collections of Note include papers representing significant schools, movements, meetings, exhibitions, and competitions.

Related Past Exhibitions provides links to past Getty exhibitions that focused on architecture and design themes.

Researching an Architect and Researching a Building contain links to online guides, directories, encyclopedias, and databases that can be accessed from anywhere without a subscription as well as links to key Getty subscription databases that are particularly useful for those researching the built environment.

We hope you will make use of this Research Guide and we welcome suggestions for how we can make it better!

 

“Memoir of a City”: The Ryerson & Burnham Archives Celebrate the David Garrard Lowe Collection

Autumn Mather
Ryerson & Burnham Libraries, Art Institute of Chicago

In 2016, historian David Garrard Lowe, author of Lost Chicago, donated a collection of approximately 1,100 photographs and ephemeral items, ranging in date from the 1880s to the 1980s, to the Ryerson & Burnham Archives of the Art Institute of Chicago. The collection currently is in the process of being digitized, and a selection of materials is on display through June 15 in an exhibition in the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries’ Franke Reading Room.

Nathaniel Parks, Tigerman McCurry Art and Architecture Archivist, curated “Memoir of a City”: Selections from the David Garrard Lowe Historic Chicago Photograph Collection, to highlight Lowe’s generous gift. Lost Chicago, originally published in 1975, was both a love letter to the city and an impassioned plea for preservation of Chicago’s unique architecture. Lowe, a third-generation Chicagoan, begins the work “Chicago was always, for me, a magical city,” and proceeds to present images of long-vanished structures that defined the city alongside captions on their significance, making locations such as Bertha Palmer’s picture gallery, Dwight L. Moody’s Tabernacle, Crosby’s Opera House, and the Sherman House hotel come alive for the reader.

Henry Ives Cobb’s Federal Building: US Post Office, Courthouse, and Customhouse, completed 1905; demolished 1965, photo courtesy of the Ryerson & Burnham Archives, Art Institute of Chicago
Henry Ives Cobb’s Federal Building: US Post Office, Courthouse, and Customhouse, completed 1905; demolished 1965, photo courtesy of the Ryerson & Burnham Archives, Art Institute of Chicago

The exhibition follows the table of contents in Lost Chicago, organizing the cases thematically around pre-Fire Chicago; culture and recreation in the city; residential architecture; transportation and infrastructure; government and commercial architecture; the 1893 and 1933 World’s Fairs; and significant Chicago people and events. Viewers can explore Pullman Town, the White City of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Francis apartments, and reminisce about civic structures such as Comiskey Park (“the baseball palace of the world”), the Trianon Ballroom, and Central Station. In addition to photographs, some of which have not been previously published, the exhibition features playing cards from the Century of Progress International Exposition, menus, postcards, souvenir photo books, news clippings, and both the design and advertisement for “a modern Christmas tree” that may have inspired Irving Berlin’s song, White Christmas. This representative selection of materials demonstrates both the variety of evocative materials in the David Garrard Lowe collection, and the variety of research questions that can be explored through this compilation of primary source materials.

Design for a “Modern Christmas Tree,” 1930, photo courtesy of the Ryerson & Burnham Archives, Art Institute of Chicago.
Design for a “Modern Christmas Tree,” 1930, photo courtesy of the Ryerson & Burnham Archives, Art Institute of Chicago.

The Ryerson and Burnham Archives are a fitting home for this significant collection. The David Garrard Lowe collection will be accessible alongside the papers of Chicago architects such as Daniel Hudson Burnham, Louis Sullivan, and Bertrand Goldberg; historic preservationists such as Richard Nickel and John Garrett Thorpe; and collections such as the Chicagoland Building Brochure collection and the World’s Columbian Exposition Photographs by C. D. Arnold. Once the Lowe materials have been digitized, they will join the more than 500,000 items available freely online in the Ryerson & Burnham Archives’ digital collections.

If you’re planning to visit to view the exhibition, please join us for a conversation with David Garrard Lowe, “Lost Chicago”—The Past, Present, and Future of Historic Preservation, in the Morton Auditorium at 6:00 on May 24. Lowe will be joined by author and former Art Institute of Chicago curator John Zukowsky; Founding Partner and Design Principal of the architecture, interiors, and urban planning firm UrbanWorks, Patricia Saldaña Natke FAIA; and School of the Art Institute professor and former director of research for the city’s Department of Planning and Development Historic Preservation Division, Terry Tatum, for a lively discussion on the history and future of historic preservation in Chicago’s rich architectural environment. He will also discuss his landmark book Lost Chicago, and his recent gift to the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries.

Viewers enjoying the exhibition in the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries,  photo by Autumn Mather.
Viewers enjoying the exhibition in the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries,
photo by Autumn Mather.

 

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
https://www2.archivists.org/groups/design-records-section/cadbim-taskforce

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

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 calarchnet@gmail.com 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.