Category Archives: Images

“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

From Coast to Desert: Two California Modernists

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Hass Residence, Carmel, 1969. Mark Mills Papers, Special Collections, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

By Peter Runge and Laura Sorvetti.  Edited by Jesse Vestermark.

Special Collections at the Robert E. Kennedy Library, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo collects records documenting the architecture and built environment of California. These collections are used by a wide variety of researchers and support the scholarship of the students and faculty of the university. Included are the records of architects Mark Mills and William F. Cody, two  Mid-Century Modern architects of California.

Mark Mills

Mark Mills (1921 – 2007) quietly and steadily established himself as a highly regarded, if not well-known, architect of the Big Sur/Carmel area of the Central Coast of California from the 1950s to the early 2000s. After graduating from the University of Colorado in 1944, Mills worked for Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West, eventually leaving to design and build an experimental geodesic dome in the desert of central Arizona with Paolo Soleri.

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Project drawing, Hass Residence, Carmel, 1969. Mark Mills Papers, Special Collections, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Shortly thereafter, Mills retreated to the lush and rugged landscape of Big Sur and Carmel, California, where he designed and built over forty custom homes and buildings that are both inspired by and reflect the landscape in which they reside. The distinctive and organic Hass house in Otter Cove captures the structural elegance and reverence for space that characterized Mills’ design aesthetic.

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Architect Mark Mills. Mark Mills Papers, Special Collections, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

The Mark Mills Papers at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo include correspondence, photographs, bound presentation portfolios of his published work, and architectural drawings, primarily for single-family residences.  For more information and images regarding Mills, refer to this previous blog post: Coastal Modern: Architect Mark Mills.

William F. Cody

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Presentation drawing, Cameron Residence, Thunderbird Country Club, Rancho Mirage, 1950. William F. Cody Papers 2, Special Collections, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

A contemporary of Mark Mills working in Southern California, William F. Cody, FAIA (1916-1978) was an influential Desert Modern architect who practiced in Palm Springs at the peak of the Modernist movement. Between 1946 and 1973, Cody maintained a diverse practice in California’s Coachella Valley, designing country clubs, residences, hotels, and church projects.

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Project drawing, Moncrief Residence, Thunderbird North, Palm Springs, 1955-56. William F. Cody Papers, Special Collections, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Cody’s specialization in country club clubhouses with related residential developments helped to define the Palm Springs landscape of the 1960s. His residential projects emphasized key elements of Modernism: simplicity of form, natural light, and large windows offering a seamless connection between residential interiors and the outdoors.

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Huddle’s The Springs Restaurant, Cameron Shopping Center, Palm Springs, 1957. William F. Cody Papers, Special Collections, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

At Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, two substantial collections—the William F. Cody Papers and the William F. Cody Papers 2 —contain a wide range of records, including student work, architectural drawings and plans, office records, public relations materials, photographs (including photographs by Julius Shulman), correspondence, and project files.  The bulk of these document his practice from 1946 to the mid-1970s, when a stroke limited his career.

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Presentation drawing of proposed Racquet Club Cottages West, Palm Springs, 1960. William F. Cody Papers, Special Collections, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.