Category Archives: Avery Classics Collection

Cutaway: Drawing the Architectural Section

Labacco_2Cutaway: Drawing the Architectural Section

Curator: Teresa Harris
March 14, 2016 – June 17, 2016
Monday – Friday: 9:00am – 5:00pm

By the early sixteenth century, architects had established conventions for depicting the most important aspects of buildings, namely their elevations, plans, and sections. These conventions have continued to the present day, although computer-aided drafting and three-dimensional modeling programs have begun to alter the architect’s relationship to drawing. This exhibition focuses on a single type of drawing – the section – created by cutting a plane through a structure, allowing an architect to evoke the interior spatial complexity of a building. The images range from Palladio’s section of the Villa La Rotonda (1570) to Ólafur Eliasson’s Your House (2006) in which each of the 454 leaves represent a vertical cross-section of the artist’s own house in Copenhagen.

Classics at Play

An exhibit of architectural toys from Avery’s collections
Curated by: Teresa Harris
November 16, 2015-January 29, 2016
Avery Classics reading room

Image from instructional booklet accompanying Richter’s Anchor-Building-Bricks: real stone in three colours. (New York, 1887). Avery Classics AA200 D78

Frank Lloyd Wright credited Froebel blocks with teaching him the geometry of architecture. While not every child who played with Froebel’s toys grew into a world-renowned architect, the blocks represent the most celebrated example of the nineteenth-century trend to transform play into an active educational experience. That trend continues to the present day, and many of the toys on display in Avery Classics attempt to teach spatial awareness, often by allowing the user to build a structure for him or herself. The toys range from puzzles and 19th century peepshows commemorating significant architectural exhibitions to pop-up books to Lego models of masterworks by Wright. Other items on display, like the playing cards featuring monuments of the modern movement along with caricatures of renowned architects, are oriented towards a more sophisticated audience and assume a substantial knowledge of twentieth century architecture. Take a break this holiday season and come play with us!

Celebrating Avery’s 125th!

Avery Friends gathered Monday November 2nd, 2015 for the inaugural celebration of Avery’s 125th anniversary year. A tour-de-force one-day only exhibition presented 125 treasured works from Avery’s venerable and storied collections.

If you missed this event, please join Avery Friends to ensure your invitation to upcoming Avery 125th events!

Selected photos from the exhibition and reception at Avery Library:

Celebrate Avery’s 125th Anniversary


Celebrate Avery’s 125th anniversary at this special one-day only exhibit! Here’s one of our treasures which will be in the show:

Etienne Du Pérac
I vestigi dell’ antichità di Roma, raccolti et ritratti in perspettiva con ogni diligentia da Stefano Dv Perac. Rome, 1575
AA320 D92 F

Etienne Du Pérac was a skilled engraver, painter and architect who traveled to Rome in 1559. He quickly found work engraving scenes of the city, including this view of the Arch of Constantine, which was typical of Du Pérac’s engraving style.


Celebrate Avery’s 125th Anniversary

Avery_C_4295_008Celebrate Avery’s 125th anniversary at this special one-day only exhibit! Here’s one of our treasures which will be in the show:

Vitruvius Pollio
Architectvre, ou Art de bien bastir, de Marc Vitruue Pollion.
Paris, 1547
AA2515 V85 1547

The first French language edition of Vitruvius, the only comprehensive architectural treatise to survive from antiquity, did not appear until 1547. The text dealt with all aspects of architecture from the education of the architect to technical explanations of the orders to the site and construction of buildings. The crisp woodcuts that enhanced the text were created by the royal sculptor Jean Goujon.

Avery Classics in Early Soviet Photography exhibition

The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film

Jewish Museum, New York
September 25, 2015 – February 7, 2016

From early vanguard constructivist works by Alexander Rodchenko and El Lissitzky, to the modernist images of Arkady Shaikhet and Max Penson, Soviet photographers played a pivotal role in the history of photography. Covering the period from the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution through the 1930s, this exhibition explores how early modernist photography influenced a new Soviet style while energizing and expanding the nature of the medium — and how photography, film, and poster art were later harnessed to disseminate Communist ideology. The Power of Pictures revisits this moment in history when artists acted as engines of social change and radical political engagement, so that art and politics went hand in hand.

Avery Classics has volumes 1, 2 and 4 of El Lissitzky’s Industrii︠a︡ sot︠s︡ializma in the exhibition. Rodchenko & Stepanova’s Moskva rekonstruiruetsi︠a︡ and SSSR stroit sot︠s︡ializm by El Lissitzky will also be on display when the show travels to other venues in 2016.

Industrii︠a︡ sot︠s︡ializma





A.J. Downing and His Legacy exhibition

Publicity_imageA.J. Downing and His Legacy

Assembled by the staff of Avery Library and Janet W. Foster, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Columbia University GSAPP

September 1 – November 13, 2015

Avery Classics reading room
Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm

Alexander Jackson Downing, known as the “father” of the American architectural pattern book, was born 200 years ago, on October 31, 1815, in Newburgh, New York. Not an architect, nor a trained artist, Downing was an avid reader of British horticulture publications, some of which illustrated ideal houses for the country. Through the British publications, Downing saw both how books could transmit design ideas in words and pictures, and how modest houses with Romantic Revival design gestures could form the basis for an improved American housing for its middle classes, particularly in rural and small town settings. To further that end, he published three important works: A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening (first issued in 1841); Cottage Residences (first published 1842); and The Architecture of County Houses (first issued in 1852). Each ran to several editions, and remained in print for some thirty years. Earlier architectural design books showed buildings in stiff and barren elevation drawings, where in Downing’s images, the house, landscape, and inhabitants become part of one happy, desirable image. The exhibition in Avery Library’s Classics Reading Room showcases several editions of Downing’s publications and those of many successors, offering a glimpse into the world of mid-19th century architectural publishing in the United States and revealing how Downing’s distillation of design ideas came to influence American housing for half a century.

G. P. Schafer Architect office visits Avery

Schafer_Blog_2 (1)


On June 24th , Avery Library welcomed the office of G. P. Schafer Architect for a viewing of materials from special collections.The evening focused on American domestic architecture, emphasizing the neoclassical and vernacular influences of interest to Mr. Schafer’s firm.

Schafer_Blog_1 (1)
Avery Classics presented a selection of books that a traced a narrative from the earliest American treatises on architecture through the heyday of nineteenth-century domestic pattern books and culminated in The House Beautiful, a volume designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for a text written by the Unitarian minister, William Channing Gannett. Drawings & Archives featured an in-depth look at drawings and photographs from the archive of Charles Platt, one of the leading practitioners of American neoclassicism and architectonic garden design at the turn of the twentieth century. In 2011, Mr. Schafer’s firm renovated Boxwood, a residence designed by Platt almost a century earlier outside Nashville, Tennessee.

Schafer_Blog_3 (1)

Avery in “Saving Place” exhibit at MCNY


Giorgio Cavaglieri, Jefferson Market Library elevation, pencil on tracing paper.

Saving Place: Fifty Years of New York City Landmarks

Museum of the City of New York, New York
April 21-September 13, 2015

Many believe New York’s pioneering Landmarks Law, enacted in April 1965, was the key factor in the rebirth of New York in the final quarter of the 20th century. It ensured that huge swaths of the city remain a rich complex of new and old. It also ensured the creative re-use of countless buildings. At the same time, a new body of important architecture has emerged as architects, clients, and the Landmarks Preservation Commission devised innovative solutions for the renovation of landmark buildings and for new buildings in historic districts.

Saving Place is presented to celebrate the law’s 50th anniversary.

Avery Drawings & Archives has 6 drawings and 1 typescript by Talbot Hamlin in the exhibition while Avery Classics has a real estate brochure for 2 Fifth Avenue, NYC, on display2-Fifth-Ave-real-estate-brochure-cover2


Exhibition website

Press release

Architect magazine article

6sqft article

 Opening Night Symposium video

New York Times review

Avery Welcomes Teri Harris, New Curator of Classics Collection

Harris_photoI am delighted to announce the appointment of Teresa Harris as the Curator of Avery Classics. A long-time reader in Avery Classics, Teri is well acquainted with our outstanding collection and with the worldwide community of scholars who work here throughout the year. Her substantial knowledge of architectural history and special collections will guide her leadership of the Avery Classics collection and services.

Teri received her Ph.D. from the department of Art History & Archaeology at Columbia University in February of 2012. Her dissertation entitled, “The German Garden City Movement: Architecture, Politics and Urban Transformation, 1902-1931,” investigated the intellectual history and built work of the German Garden City Movement.  Her research interests include twentieth-century architecture and urban planning, with an emphasis on the intersection of social and aesthetic reform. She received her M.A. in Art History from Columbia in 2003 and her B.A. in Art History from Williams College in 1998.

Prior to joining Avery staff, she served as the project coordinator for the “Marcel Breuer Digital Archive,” Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University Libraries. This National Endowment for the Humanities-funded project unites geographically dispersed collections relating to the career of the modernist architect into a single digital repository. She is currently writing an essay on the Garden City of the Future and the evolution of Breuer’s sculptural concrete aesthetic for an upcoming edited volume on Breuer.

We are thrilled to name Teri to this position and look forward to many fruitful collaborations with the faculty and students of the Department of Art History & Archaeology.
I hope you will stop by Avery Classics some day soon to congratulate Teri on her appointment and welcome Teri back to the Columbia community!
–Carole Ann Fabian, Director