Category Archives: Avery in the News

Avery in PBS series “The Rise and Fall of Penn Station”

Avery Library's photographs of McKim, Mead, and White's former Pennsylvania Station building are featured in the latest installment of the American Experience, a PBS series. This installment, entitled  "The Rise and Fall of Penn Station", includes photographs documenting the construction of the station that are now in the Avery Classics collection.

These photographs are now also available on the program's interactive Engineering Map of America, a crowd-sourced project that documents historical engineering projects across the country. The program itself is also available to watch online (

Avery Honored By Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation

The Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation honored Avery and MoMA for their innovative and transformative co-acquisition and joint stewardship of The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives.

Carole Ann Fabian, Director, Avery Library, Columbia University, and Barry Bergdoll, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator, Architecture & Design, MoMA, accepted the Honor on behalf of their respective organizations.

“We are thrilled to receive this award honoring the Avery – MoMA collaboration. The co-acquisition of the Wright Archive presents exciting opportunities to explore new ways of working across institutional boundaries. We look forward to developing new models for collaborative stewardship that preserve and present Wright’s extraordinary body of work, and that strengthen the relationship between our two organizations as we work together on this and other collaborative efforts.”

The award recognizes the collaborative approach to conserving, presenting and exploring this unparalleled and extraordinary Archive. Together, the two institutions will care for the Archive comprised of more than 25,000 drawings, models and design prototypes, 350,000 items of correspondence, manuscripts, 50,000 photographs, oral histories and other media documenting the life and work of Frank Lloyd Wright.  The Frank Lloyd Wright archives joined the collections of Avery Library and MoMA in September 2012.

CLIR Hidden Collections Grant for American View Books

Columbia University Libraries /Information Services is pleased to announce the receipt of a CLIR Hidden Collections grant to support cataloging of the unique and extensive collection of American View Books in the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library.

Avery’s American View Books Collection provides pictorial documentation of cities and towns throughout the United States. The collection is comprised of 4,800 items published in a variety of formats, including printed books, photographic albums, and novelties. Together, these items present an evolving illustrated history of the American-built environment from the mid-nineteenth century to the twentieth century.

“The view books present a sweeping view of the changing American landscape. The images chart the growth of rural areas into towns and cities, the advance of the railroads across the country, and the rising popularity of county fairs and national expositions,” said Carole Ann Fabian, Director of the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library. “The primary achievement of the view book is the documentation of architecture and urbanism in an expanding American landscape.”

 Hundreds of thousands of images of buildings, streetscapes, monuments, and parklands from every state provide historical snapshots of the evolution of the nation. In addition, accompanying detailed texts describe the growth of local industries, the construction of major buildings, the development of transportation networks, and the characteristics of regional architectural styles. Many of the buildings pictured are shown from different points of view or before and after alterations.

 "The type of publication that will be cataloged under this grant is of immense interest to all those who study American architecture, urban history, and cultural history and for those who work in historic preservation and planning,” said David Brownlee, Frances Shapiro-Weitzenhoffer Professor and Chair of the Graduate Group for History of Art & Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania.  “We are on the verge of being able to recreate and tell the stories of our cities with unprecedented detail and accuracy."

 The $75,500 grant will support a major bibliographic goal: to define and produce a highly descriptive cataloging template for this document type that includes not only standardized format and subject headings, but also significant geographical data within the MARC format. This mix of topics, named persons, dates, and locations will provide multiple levels of access to users across a broad range of educational and experiential levels.

Press release

Image credit: Historic Yorktown Virginia. (Yorktown: J.S. DeNeufville, 19–)

Ada Louise Huxtable Tribute

Ada Louise Huxtable, the Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic, died on January 7. She was most recently the architecture critic for the Wall Street Journal. As the New York Times reported in its obituary, Ms. Huxtable considered Avery Library her "most treasured academic home."

She covered Avery Library exhibitions and events in many pieces for the Times, and was always generous in her praise, as in this 1980 review of a special exhibition celebrating Avery Librarian Adolf Placzek and this 1972 essay, "A Place of Genuine Joy".  In this 1977 article on the library's recent renovation, Ms. Huxtable recalled visiting Avery and holding some of the world's greatest treasures of architectural literature in her hands.

In addition to being a champion of buildings, Ms. Huxtable was a champion of libraries, and she will be missed.

Image credit:
Ada Louise Huxtable with Walter Severinghaus and Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, at the Mayor's Press meeting on Convention Center, February 13, 1973.
Bunshaft papers (Box 5:21), Drawings and Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Zorn book on Lindbergh kidnapping case

Author Robert Zorn, whose book titled "Cemetery John" is about the Lindbergh Case, is at Avery Library Drawings & Archives studying the drawings of Delano & Aldrich who designed the Lindbergh residence as well as the Morrow residence in Englewood, NJ. 

There will be a NOVA special airing Jan. 30, 2013 relating to the case.

FL Wright Archives join collections of Avery and MoMA

Columbia University, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation have announced that the vast archives of Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867-1959) have been jointly acquired by the University and the Museum and will become part of their permanent collections. Wright is considered by many to be one of the 20th century’s most influential architects, a figure whose iconic work helped define modernism. The American Institute of Architects, in a recent national survey, recognized him as “the greatest American architect of all time.” 

The Archives add to Avery and MoMA existing collections of materials by Frank Lloyd Wright, and this joint acquisition signals a ground-breaking collaboration between the two institutions to insure long term access and preservation of the materials, at the same time providing opportunities to celebrate the collections through public programs and exhibitions, curricular integration, research interrogation and publications.       

Press Release
Columbia Libraries Press Release
Larkin Company Administration Building, Buffalo, NY. 1902-06
Image Credit: The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York)


A Final Resting Place and Its Afterlife: Woodlawn Cemetery

Depending on whom you ask, Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, which began a lengthy 150th anniversary program this year that will culminate in 2014 with an exhibition at the Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University, has anywhere between 20 and 100 years left as an active cemetery (that’s the industry term for a place that still has open burial plots for sale). Some 300,000 people are buried there—Herman Melville, Fiorello La Guardia and Miles Davis among them—and there will be many more to come. It was only in the last decade or so that many of America’s cemeteries, taking a cue from Mount Auburn in Cambridge, Mass. (the final resting place of the poet Robert Creeley), began establishing themselves as nonprofits and, paradoxically for places that are so literally about the past, thinking about the future. Probably more than any other cemetery in the country, Woodlawn has already taken major steps toward preserving itself as a kind of outdoor museum: in 2006, the cemetery donated its papers to Columbia’s Avery Library (in all, they comprise 800 linear feet). In 2011, the U.S. Department of the Interior designated the cemetery as a National Historic Landmark, making sure that, like the mausoleums that bear the names of certain long-forgotten, once-powerful families, it will survive long after its active life is over.

Check out this article by Michael H. Miller from GalleristNY.

Durst Organization Archives, Old York Foundation Donates Substantial Collection and Funding to Avery Library

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."