Category Archives: Avery in the News

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."



Avery Real Estate Brochures in NY Times

Today’s New York Times has an article by Diane Cardwell about Manhattan real estate booms and busts which uses brochures and marketing materials from the Avery Library New York Real Estate Brochure Collection

The collection was donated by Yale Robbins, Henry Robbins, and David Magier in 1986. It consists of over 9,200 advertising brochures, floor plans, price lists, and related materials that document residential and commercial real estate development in the five boroughs of New York and outlying vicinities from the 1920s to the 1970s.


New York’s Architectural Holdouts book talk

New York’s Architectural Holdouts is the title of a new revised edition of the book by Andrew Alpern and Seymour Durst. 

"Holdouts" are building owners who refuse to make way for office buildings and other urban designing projects. In New York’s Architectural Holdouts architect and historian Alpern and developer Durst examine over 50 examples of New York City holdouts. Site histories and controversies are considered in the framework of project delays and eventual conflict resolution.

Andrew Alpern will give a book talk tonight about "Holdouts" at the Skyscraper Museum in NYC.

Vishaan Chakrabarti, Director of the Real Estate Development program, GSAPP wrote the new introduction.

–by Carole Ann Fabian, Director of Avery Library



Thomas W. Lamb in the News

Yesterday’s New York Times brings welcome news regarding the future of the Victoria Theater on 125th Street in Harlem designed by Thomas Lamb, one of the major theater architects of the first half of the 20th century, whose archive is one of the most heavily used collections in the Drawings and Archives.  The renovation of historical theaters has often been the foundation of a revitalization of urban areas; architects, preservationists and developers frequently consult the drawings at Avery for historical accuracy and structural knowledge. Plans for the rehabilitation and re-use of the Victoria Theater have been under discussion since the mid-1990s when architects began consulting the drawings for this theater in the Avery collection.

Also in New York the Loew’s Canal Street Theater by Thomas Lamb is under development.

Past Lamb theaters that are showpieces of urban redevelopment include the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore and in my hometown, Columbus, Ohio, the Ohio Theater where I sang with my high school choir in what was supposed to be the last performance in this magnificent auditorium before its demolition. At the last minute a group of preservationists was able to save the theater and give it new life.

–by Janet Parks, Curator of Drawings & Archives

Frederick Woodbridge at Antioch


Frederick Woodbridge was the excavation architect for the Antioch excavation in 1924. His drawings of the excavation, part of his archive at the Drawings and Archives, are featured in the new publication:

Building a New Rome: The Imperial Colony of Pisidian Antioch (25 BC-AD700) published by the Kelsey Museum of the University of Michigan.


–by Janet Parks, Curator of Drawings & Archives

New York Crystal Palace


Read more about Avery’s unique image of the New York Crystal Palace in the new article by Julie Mellby in the History of Photography

by Janet Parks, Curator of Drawings & Archives

Avery Library Drawing & Archives–Woodlawn Cemetery


Woodlawn Cemetery is now a National Historic Landmark! On June 30, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that Woodlawn was one of 14 new national historic landmarks!


Cited for its landscape and architectural design, Woodlawn’s application was strengthened by the archival documentation of its monuments, which are now housed in Avery’s Drawings and Archives Woodlawn Cemetery Collection.  See the complete Woodlawn press release.

–by Janet Parks, Curator of Drawing & Archives