NEW YORK, November 14, 2011 –
Columbia University Libraries’ Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) announce an unprecedented $4 million gift from the Durst family, one of New York’s most respected commercial and residential real estate families. The Durst Organization has also donated Seymour Durst’s Old York Library Collection, which includes books and ephemeral materials about New York City, as well as architectural documentation, including renderings, plans, and photos from the Durst Organization Archives.
"The gift of this extraordinary collection and supporting funds will make these valuable New York materials available for research, teaching, and learning not only for scholars at Columbia, but also to a worldwide community of researchers," said Carole Ann Fabian, Director of the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library. "Development of the virtual Old York Library– a digitization project that will make the Old York Collection available online — will honor Mr. Durst’s important tradition of collection-building and allow the collection to be used in the curricular and research activities of the GSAPP Real Estate Development program, as well as provide accessibility to public."
"The Old York’s collection was fueled by my father’s passion for New York City, especially its history, buildings, and architecture," said Wendy Durst Kreeger, President of the Old York Foundation. $1.2 million of the gift will be used to catalog and house the collection in Avery Library, as well as to create a digital Old York library to ensure broad access to the materials.
Architectural documentation including renderings, plans, and photos from the Durst Organization Archives will also be donated to Avery Library. These documents, which have never before been available to the public, will give scholars the opportunity to further understand the scope of the Durst Organization’s impact on New York City’s skyline and streetscapes. The archives also highlight Durst’s pioneering work in environmentally responsible commercial and residential development.
"The Durst Organization’s architectural archives will be an outstanding resource for Columbia University,” said Douglas Durst, Chairman of The Durst Organization. "For nearly 100 years, my family has been assembling, building, and operating real estate in New York City and we have accumulated a vast amount of knowledge and information that will be invaluable for anyone interested in New York’s history and real estate."
$1.8 million of the gift will be used to create the Durst Digital Research Laboratory in GSAPP’s Center for Global Design and Development. The remaining $1 million will create the Durst Fund for Research, which will support a series of annual projects at GSAPP’s Real Estate Development Program over the next five years. Each year, students and researchers will relate one aspect of the Durst collections to an important question facing the future of global cities. Through a series of cross-disciplinary activities, such as workshops, seminars, symposiums, exhibitions, publications or short-term visiting scholars, this question will be explored and answered, further advancing the fields of architecture and real estate development.
"This historic gift from one of the most established real estate families, not just in New York, but in the nation, is truly transformative for our program," said Vishaan Chakrabarti, Holliday Professor and Director of GSAPP’s Real Estate Development Program and the Center for Urban Real Estate. "We are deeply grateful to the Durst family for this gift and we look forward to a wonderful collaboration to enhance our programs and make our cutting-edge work and research even more accessible to the academic community and beyond."