Category Archives: Drawings & Archives

Announcing the opening of the Douglas Darden Collection in Avery Drawings & Archives!

The Douglas Darden Collection has been processed and is now available for researchers! This project was completed as a part of the Columbia Libraries Graduate Internship Program in Primary Sources by Sara McGillivray, a Master’s student in GSAPP’s CCCP Program.

Douglas Darden was an American architect based out of Denver, Colorado. He was best known for his book Condemned Building, an assembly of ten allegorical projects. The Archives’ collection contains much of Darden’s work for that book as well as the process work for his second book, Laughing Girls. It also contains a large portion of Darden’s early works and his professional papers, which lend background and context to his later work.


“Sacre Coeur” (1985): collage showing some of Darden’s varied sources of inspiration.

Born in Denver, Colorado in 1951, Darden studied ballet, before graduating with a Bachelors of English and Psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1974. His background in literature and dance translate into expressive works which rely on narrative structuring. Darden also studied Industrial Design at Parsons School of Design, and received his Masters of Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1983. He began work on the projects that would be later featured in Condemned Building, meanwhile, teaching at Harvard, then at the Catholic University of America, here at Columbia University, and later at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Darden’s explorations of his industrial surroundings in New Jersey influenced the atmosphere of his work. Likewise, his time as a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome from (1988-9) gave him a deeper interest in the history and buildings of Rome.


“Pilings” (1985): an example of Darden’s early work, with an atmosphere inspired by the environment in New Jersey.

Darden began teaching at the University of Colorado at Denver in 1990; it was at this time that he was diagnosed with leukemia. Darden continued to work through his illness, teaching and designing, and in 1993, Darden released Condemned Building. (Condemned Building is now out of print, but Avery Library does have a copy.)  Although drawn in very detailed plan, section, and elevation, the projects in Condemned Building were unbuilt works, designed as allegorical structures only. Each project is described with a narrative akin to the acts in a play, describing the use of and circulation through each project. Darden’s process for these projects integrated visual and textual research, combining literary sources with the manipulation of graphic materials, and the Archives’ collection includes much of this work, in addition to the more well-known finished drawings featured in Darden’s book. This process work provides the researcher with an inside look into the allusions Darden tucks into each project from Duchamp, to Lequeu, to Piranesi, revealing his mischievous sense of humor.


“Melvilla” (1990): detail of Darden’s design for a library built on the location of Herman Melville’s former home in New York City, and featured in Condemned Building.

Darden’s second book, Laughing Girls, moved further into narrative. Taking the form of a graphic architectural novel, Laughing Girls combined architectural drawing and collage with a storyline centered on three characters that moved from Troy, New York to Troy in Greece. Darden experimented with text and font, graphic images from his research and travels, and graphic elements converted from audio recordings. The Archives’ collection includes Darden’s research, studies, and drafts for Laughing Girls, however, the book was left unfinished when Darden’s leukemia returned; he passed away in April 1996.

In addition to teaching, Darden lectured and exhibited his works internationally. The Archives’ collection contains promotional material for many of these events, along with his faculty papers. The collection also includes many of Darden’s writings on architectural theory which were featured in a myriad of publications, and some which were never published, making it a valuable resource for anyone researching Darden, architectural theory, allegory, or narrative in architecture.


Clinic for Sleep Disorders.

Avery / GSAPP Architectural Plans & Sections Collection in Artstor


Avery is thrilled to announce the completion of our two-year collaborative project with the GSAPP Visual Resources Collection  (VRC) and Artstor to present the Avery/GSAPP Architectural Plans & Sections Collection in the Artstor Digital Library. Launched to coincide with the beginning of the 2016/17 academic year, Phase 2 adds another 10,000 images to the collection, bringing the total to more than 20,000 images representing 2000 projects in 60 countries that are now available for architectural research and instruction around the world. With an overall project focus on 20th century modernism, Phase 2 is particularly notable for the addition of nearly 100 projects by the master architect Le Corbusier, 100 projects in South America, and over 125 in Japan.

The Avery/GSAPP Plans & Sections project involved the efforts of Avery librarians and staff, GSAPP VRC curators, and more than 25 GSAPP students working together across many of the GSAPP programs — including M.Arch, Historic Preservation, Urban Design and Urban Planning – and contributing their diverse language, imaging and technology skills and their deep interest in the history of architecture.

For additional background on the collaboration, please see this ACSA article from January 2016.

Avery/GSAPP Architectural Plans & Sections Collection

Artstor blog

GSAPP Press Release

Credit line: Jeannert, Pierre & Le Corbusier. Villas Weissenhof-Seidlung (Stuttgart, Germany) 1927 Artstor: Avery/GSAPP Architectural Plans & Sections Collection © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris / FLC

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:

Preservation Master Plan for Taliesin West

TW-master-plan-3803.132Talk by T. Gunny Harboe, FAIA (Harboe Architects)
The Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer Lecture

Monday, November 16, 2015
6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Location: MoMA, The Celeste Bartos Theater

Co-sponsored by Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library and The Museum of Modern Art

Taliesin West was established in 1937 as Wright’s winter home, studio and campus for the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation recently released the Preservation Master Plan for this U.S. National Historic Landmark. Gunny Harboe, preservation architect and founder of Chicago-based Harboe Architects, and the plan’s primary author, will present the major tenants of the Taliesin West plan. Mr. Harboe has overseen preservation of some of Wright’s most significant sites including the Robie House and Unity Temple.

The Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer lecture series honors the work of Mr. Pfeiffer, a widely recognized expert on Wright and author of numerous books on Wright’s life and works. Mr. Pfeiffer studied architecture at the Ecole Nationale de Beaux Arts and was  apprentice to Wright from 1949-1959, and to Olgivanna Lloyd Wright from 1959-1987.

Upon Wright’s death in 1959, Mrs. Wright gathered the archive of his work at Taliesin West, thereby preserving and keeping intact the visual and textual legacy of one of history’s great architectural geniuses. It was an unprecedented action, since architectural archives of such size and scope for a single architect did not exist at that time. Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, as Director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives, curated and organized the archives from 1959-2012.

Image credit:
Frank Lloyd Wright. Taliesin West Master Plan (1938).
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives. (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York)

Celebrate Avery’s 125th Anniversary

Avery_4294_004Celebrate Avery’s 125th anniversary at this special one-day only exhibit! Here’s one of our treasures which will be in the show:

Thom Mayne/Morphosis
Color Proof 1/Gold Club at Chiba Prefecture, Japan. 1990.    1990.004.00071

In 1990, the Chiba Prefecture west of Tokyo had the highest concentration of golf courses in Japan. This project represented an exploration between landscape and building with the intention of allowing landscape to take a more dominant role. This is fitting for a golf course, especially in an area so densely built. The project was never constructed due to the economic downturn in Japan at that time. This serigraph was a color proof and at least one other edition, with different colors, was made.


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:

Michael Graves
Addition to the Whitney Museum, New York, New York: scheme 3, Madison Avenue elevation, 1988.    1990.004.00266

One of the most controversial projects of the 1980s, this drawing represents Graves’ third and final scheme for the Whitney Museum expansion. The Graves proposal was not popular and eventually both Rem Koolhaas and Renzo Piano supplied subsequent schemes. Eventually the popularity of the High Line provided a location receptive to a contemporary building and Renzo Piano’s new museum has recently opened to general acclaim.

Avery Drawing & Archives in Affordable Housing exhibit at MCNY



Affordable New York: A Housing Legacy
Museum of the City of New York
September 18, 2015-February 1, 2016

“Fifteen objects were lent from Drawings and Archives including drawings for Roosevelt Island development by Philip Johnson and John Burgee (preliminary scheme) and John Johansen (final design), sketches and photographs of Carver House by Simon Breines, and other ephemera. Included in the exhibition is a digital image gallery of plans of New York City Housing Authority projects from the Breines collection.”

All images from the Simon Breines papers, circa 1930-1990. Click image to enlarge.




G. P. Schafer Architect office visits Avery

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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.

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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.

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Sylvan Cemetery Honored by Victorian Society

Woodlawn_1Sylvan Cemetery: Architecture, Art & Landscape at Woodlawn received “The ‘Victorian Society New York’ 2014 Exhibition and Catalogue Award” at ceremonies held at the New York School of Interior Design on June 3, 2015.

Charles D. Warren and Carole Ann Fabian accepted the award on behalf of the project team. In brief remarks, Ms. Fabian (Director, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library) thanked the Boards of the Woodlawn Cemetery and The Woodlawn Conservancy for their encouragement and support, which helped to bring the exhibit and catalog forward. The Victorian Society Award honors the collective efforts of co-curators: Janet Parks, Susan Olsen and Charles Warren; catalog authors: Andrew Dolkart (Columbia- GSAPP), Alice Frelinghuysen (Metropolitan Museum of Art), Charles Warren and the late Cynthia Mills; and Deborah Cullen and Jeanette Silverthorne of the Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery.

The Sylvan Cemetery exhibit at the Wallach Art Gallery (September 3-November 1, 2014) marked the 150th anniversary of Woodlawn Cemetery and celebrated the Cemetery’s 2006 gift of its archive—the most complete set of 19th– and 20th–century cemetery records held in the public trust -– to the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. Sylvan Cemetery highlights the renowned architects, artists, artisans and landscape designers whose work has come to define The Woodlawn Cemetery, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2011 for the significance of its art and architecture.

The award-winning exhibition catalog, co-published by Columbia University’s Avery Library and The Woodlawn Conservancy, is available for purchase online  and to libraries through Worldwide Books.

Avery Drawings & Archives in Maxxi Food Exhibition

FLW-Farm-Maxxi-showFOOD dal cucchiaio al mondo = FOOD to Space

MAXXI – Museo Nazionale dell Arti del XXI Secolo, Rome, Italy
May 29-November 8, 2015

An exhibition that tells us about how food crosses, changes and influences the body, houses, streets, cities, and the landscape of the entire world.

Over 50 works by different artists and architects that, in a presentation that ranges from the dimension of the human body to that of the planet, from the kitchen to the home, from the city to the region and the world, tackle the global political, social, urban and economic effects that the production, distribution, consumption and disposal of food have on communities and territories.

Avery Library Drawing & Archives has 3 drawings by Frank Lloyd Wright from his Pre Fab Farm Unit of 1932 in the exhibition.

Image Credit: Pre Fab Farm Unit, Aerial View. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York)

FOOD-cover-bExhibition website