By Nicole Krup Oest
The Environmental Design Archives is home to a fascinating collection of color slides by one of the history of modern architecture’s most underappreciated photographers: Catherine Bauer. Known for her integral role in garnering support for the bill that became the Housing Act of 1937 and for her ensuing lifelong career as a public housing researcher and consultant, Bauer easily counts as one of the most important women to have taught at Berkeley. The University’s celebration of 150 Years of Berkeley Women presents an excellent opportunity to bring the importance of photography in Catherine Bauer’s housing work to light.
I first began thinking about Catherine Bauer as a photographer in 2014 after visiting the Bancroft Library to study her files on public housing in Los Angeles in the 1940s. A tireless researcher, Bauer had collected file upon file of photographic prints, newspaper clippings, and pamphlets on public housing around the world. What stood out to me, however, were letters in which she wrote about taking her own photographs with Kodak’s 35-millimeter color slide film, Kodachrome.
Across campus at the Environmental Design Archives, curator Chris Marino pulled the slides in the William and Catherine Bauer Wurster Papers. I turned page after page of Kodachrome slides neatly prepared for viewing in cardboard mounts, labeled in Bauer’s hand, and accompanied by a handy index divided into columns that Bauer labeled “Buildings, country, etc.” and “Personal” (Fig. 1). I saw new views of famous wartime housing projects like architect William Wurster’s Carquinez Heights at Vallejo (Fig. 2) and Richard Neutra’s Channel Heights at San Pedro (Fig. 3). I also saw a photograph of Bauer, herself, captured with her camera in hand as she strides through a field outside a Farm Security Administration camp (Fig. 4).
On the surface, the collection might seem commonplace—an organized researcher’s tool made for use in her public speaking and teaching of public housing. But the significance of Bauer’s collection is multifold. These photographs offer rare images of housing from the 1930s through the 1950s in color. Looking back at the first outlines of my project, I had not planned to write about color photographs of housing, much less color slides in a collection that, for a long time, remained one of the most important visual resources in the field. On another level, the Kodachrome slides offer a privileged view of the role of visual media in Bauer’s teaching of housing. They invite a look away from the photographs commissioned by architects or magazines and towards images made for non-commercial purposes.
From the indexing, to the labeling of the Ready-Mounts, to her lecture notes at the Bancroft—Bauer’s files lend clues to the pedagogy of the past while simultaneously holding a mirror to the digital tools of the present. How does one present modern housing in the classroom? In working with the Environmental Design Archives on the online exhibition of Catherine Bauer’s photographs, I found myself facing a variation on this question. Should we scan only the images to better approximate what Bauer’s audiences would have seen on the screen when she presented her slides? Or should we photograph the slides in the marked cardboard mounts on a light table, as Bauer and her students might have viewed them before placing them under a loupe or in a slide viewer?
Finally, Bauer’s collection offers material for future research on the creative contributions of women to the history of housing and photography—especially women who never proclaimed themselves photographers the way their celebrated contemporaries like Roger Sturtevant and Julius Shulman did. This research promises to destabilize the murky categories of “applied photography” and “amateur photography” and urge historians to look closer at not only what these photographs show, but how they show it.
Seeing modern architecture in color in Catherine Bauer’s Kodachrome slide collection compelled me to plan a new subarea of my research that received an additional grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation. The slides now form the centerpiece of a chapter in my book, Photography and Modern Public Housing in Los Angeles, forthcoming from the German publisher, arthistoricum. Conceived in the spirit of Catherine Bauer’s commitment to students of housing and urban planning, the Environmental Design Archives’ online exhibition is the first dedicated to understanding Bauer’s photographs as unique objects of study and dynamic components of her housing work.
Nicole Krup Oest is a historian of art and photography and an instructor at City College of San Francisco. Her current research focuses on the photographs of the designer and art historian, Esther Lewittes Mipaas.
Check out our new online exhibition Catherine Bauer and the Photography of Modern Housing: http://exhibits.ced.berkeley.edu/exhibits/show/cbw-exhibit
Exactly a year ago this week, the Environmental Design Archives successfully exceeded our fundraising goal that enabled Edith Heath: Philosophies, the eighth book in the Berkeley Design Books Series. This month we are working intently on editing the third design draft. We are incredibly proud of the book, which many of you enabled us to create through your generous donations, and we can’t wait to share this project with you.
On shelves this Fall, the book is 320 pages. Heavily illustrated with more than 300 images, the book showcases the wealth of the Brian and Edith Heath/Heath Ceramics Collection and the spectacular research it has enabled—featuring a forward, preface, introduction, dynamic timeline, thirteen essays, epilogue, and detailed product and dinnerware glaze history. Thematically organized, Edith Heath: Philosophies emphasizes less-known narratives and utilizes rarely seen images.
Essay topics range from Edith’s creative collaborations, her educational background in art education and ceramic chemistry, architectural tile, the philosophical foundations and influences of one of the most significant creative forces in post-WWII America, and much more.
Check out, below, the Table of Contents, Forward, and one essay by JC Miller entitled “Making a Place for Art: Collaboration between Edith Heath and Robert Royston.” The book is still a work in progress—but we wanted to share a sneak peek with all of you. Click on the images below to see the full spreads of the book. Enjoy!
Interested in purchasing a copy of the book? Sign-up here.
College of Architecture and Design, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Being in an archive is like being in conversation with smart and interesting people who are busy doing something else; they respond to your questions, but you need to work hard to identify the answers. Being in a welcoming archive (such as the Environmental Design Archives (EDA)) means you have the time and patience to follow all the dangling threads, so your “conversation” is deep enough for research.
My association with the EDA began in Fall 2010, in the first meeting of a seminar in the history department titled “Environmental History.” I had registered for the course on the recommendation of my advisor. When it came time for introductions, I panicked a little and wondered how to explain my work in architecture to my new historian colleagues. As a doctoral student in the College of Environmental Design (CED,) though I was not yet at the dissertation stage, I knew I was interested in the history of architectural education in the United States after WWII. As the introductions continued it occurred to me that the CED was founded in 1959–the very period in which I planned to write. Extrapolating wildly from this fact, I explained that I was interested in architectural education at the time that it came in contact with ideas about environmental design. This casual comment led to a term paper on the founding of the CED. In the process, I made my first visit to an archive and learned how to navigate manuscript collections. I also discovered just how much I enjoy this type of research.
Luckily for me, there was a lot more fun to be had at the EDA. In the following semesters, I plumbed this archive for material for my seminar papers, slowly getting to know more about William W. Wurster, the first dean of the CED, department chair Charles Moore and faculty member Horst Rittel, among many others. Much of the material I used was only there because Waverly Lowell had saved it from destruction in the periodic spurts of cleaning in Wurster Hall. I eventually focused my dissertation on the idea of “research for architecture,” and decided to begin by spending time looking through the collection of Dean Wurster’s papers. As a well-connected architect and academic, I hoped his correspondence would give me information about other people I might pursue in my study. I set aside a week for this foray, but six weeks later I was still showing up daily at the archives. Not only was the collection everything I had hoped for, but being in the EDA and talking with Waverly and Carrie Morgan about my project, I was learning too much to stay away.
It took me several years of teaching and writing to get round to developing a manuscript from the dissertation. In these years, the idea of research for architecture became fashionable once more, and I had several wonderful opportunities to share my knowledge of its history. Thus, when it came time to write a book, I was ready to return to my casual comment and investigate “environmental design” more closely. I knew it was used at Berkeley but was this unique to the Bay Area? Who else used it? And more importantly, why; what did the term denote that “architecture” did not? This project, like the dissertation, took me to archives across the country but none felt like home as did the EDA. I came back to browse material I had already examined but also expanded to other collections, including the papers of architects Vernon de Mars, Ernest Kump, Sami Hassid, and Marc Trieb.
The EDA is also the archive in which I first focused specifically on searching for images to illustrate the manuscript, now titled “Environmental Design: Architecture, Science and Politics in Postwar America.” Choosing images is always a tricky business, but my task was especially hard because my topic was architects and their ideas rather than architecture and buildings. I did not want to use portraits of individuals but rather sought illustrations of their thought processes and professional arguments. Once again Waverly, and now Chris Marino, were there to help me. Together we identified drawings by De Mars for an exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1939, juxtaposing “living as is” with “living as it should be” (Fig 1. and 2.) We also found a graph of the hierarchical decomposition (analysis) of the requirements for a housing project, prepared by a team led by Sam Davis in the 1960s, following the method described by Christopher Alexander in the book Notes on the Synthesis of Form (Fig. 3). Rittel’s teaching was represented with his own lecture notes (Fig. 4) as well as student work in his course (Fig. 5). Two other drawings, a diagram by Trieb (Fig. 6) and a drawing by Moore (Fig. 7) allowed me to juxtapose the scientific and artistic approaches to architecture, a central theme of the book.
The published book is a documentation of my “archival conversations” and, I hope, the beginning of many more. I therefore proudly and happily sent the EDA a copy. Environmental Design was back home, where it began.
Avigail Sachs teaches landscape and architectural history and theory at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her current project, tentatively titled Atelier TVA: Architecture, Landscape and Planning in the Tennessee Valley, 1933-1953, will critically analyze the impact of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s design policies on the careers of the architects and landscape architects who worked for it. Her book, Environmental Design: Architecture, Politics and Science in Postwar America, was published by the University of Virginia Press in 2018. This study examines the development of the concept of “environmental design” in architecture and its role in the modernization of American architecture. Her 2009 essay, Marketing through Research: William Caudill and Caudill Rowlett Scott (CRS) in: Journal of Architecture 14/1, was selected for inclusion in a special issue anthology comprised of the Journal of Architecture’s most important articles of the decade.
In the latter months of 2019, the Environmental Design Archives completed a project in which we digitized a set of drawings from the Gertrude Jekyll collection. The portion of the collection we focused on was the gardens Jekyll designed in the county of Sussex, England. The EDA was very fortunate to have the support of the Sussex Garden Trust in funding this work, as the full digitization of portions of archival collections is a time-consuming and labor-intensive task.
The digitization of large numbers of drawings and archival documents is always a logistical challenge. For the Jekyll collection, the EDA digitization studio primarily used two tools: the large-format flatbed scanner, and the overhead capture copy-stand. These two tools reflect the two main types of documents in the Gertrude Jekyll collection - large format landscape drawings and correspondence. To effectively work our way through Jekyll’s Sussex projects, it was necessary to identify, physically move and order, and actually digitize the material in a way that limited the handling, movement, and climatization of the fragile documents.
Physically handling the entirety of documents for a number of garden projects in the Gertrude Jekyll collection was a sensory delight in many ways - the drawings are mostly in watercolor or ink on heavy cream-colored paper, and the correspondence is mostly handwritten on letterhead from the estates being designed for. Handling this material also revealed many of the peculiarities in the way that Gertrude Jekyll worked - some due to the time period, and some due to Jekyll’s ways and limitations.
To back up for a moment, it should be explained just exactly what the Jekyll collection contains. The Gertrude Jekyll collection consists of the correspondence, drawings, and other documents which she maintained. For the last half of her career (after the age of 65), Jekyll did not leave her home town of Surrey, and therefore did not visit many of the garden sites that she designed. To consult on gardens, she had clients and architects send her plans and even soil samples.
She would then send original and tracing versions of her design drawings, along with plant lists, specifications, and other instructions for the gardeners to carry out. The EDA’s Jekyll collection consists mostly of her portion of this extended remote design process - her originals and copies of landscape drawings, her copies of her outgoing correspondence, and originals of incoming correspondence. Jekyll helpfully dated most drawings indicating when copies were forwarded to her clients - allowing us to see how the designs changed over time.
Also often present are the site surveys that landowners had carried out and sent to Jekyll so that she could read the land from afar. Some correspondents sent photographs, and some even detailed architectural plans so that Jekyll would know the locations of windows and doors and could orient the gardens appropriately.
It was often frustrating but tantalizing to read only the incoming half of the correspondence, as Jekyll’s patrons often made their wishes and needs quite clear - while doubtless she returned with similar firmness.
As with most archival collections, incompleteness of the record is the norm rather than the exception. At their most complete, garden project records in the Jekyll collection may contain a site survey, a general garden plan, planting plans of beds, and correspondence. Some projects only have a few plans and limited other documents. Many of the gardens and estates documented in this collection are no longer extant, and so we only have these limited records of the thought and care that went into the design of their gardens and landscapes. Yet with the limited materials available to us, we can reconstruct these gardens in our imaginations to a surprising degree.
This blog entry has featured documents relating to Bestbeech St Mary, for which Gertrude Jekyll designed gardens for in 1927-1928. To see other drawings and archival documents from the Gertrude Jekyll and other archival collections held at the Environmental Design Archives, please head to Calisphere, the online portal to digital images from California Institutions: https://calisphere.org/collections/26864/
The Donald Olsen Collection has been fully processed! You can now browse the Project Index and Finding Aid on our website.
This has been a wonderful collection to organize. I have come across many amusing notes on drawings from Olsen (see below) as well as a myriad of truly beautiful sketches and presentation drawings, some of which are currently on display in the Environmental Design Library exhibition cases.
One of the biggest challenges in developing any exhibit is deciding what to include. This was particularly true of this exhibit. The Donald Olsen Collection contains materials for almost 200 projects both built and unbuilt.
Space constraints required me to make difficult choices about what to omit. This panel of previously unseen drawings, sketches, and renderings highlights a fascinating chapter in the architect’s dynamic and productive architectural career.
We understand that at this time many may not have been able to visit the physical exhibit. The EDA is happy to announce that we have created an online exhibit bringing the digitized materials to you! Follow this link: http://exhibits.ced.berkeley.edu/exhibits/show/donald-olsen-modern-master.
Who was Donald Olsen?
Donald E. Olsen was born in Minneapolis in 1919 to Clarence Edward and Thea Olsen. He married Helen Ohlson in 1944 and had one son. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from the University of Minnesota in 1942 and his M.Arch from Harvard University in 1946. He continued his education doing post-graduate work in England, studying civic design at the University of Liverpool in 1953, and the philosophy of Science at the London School of Economics, 1962-63.
HHe worked with a number of recognized firms including Saarinen, Swanson & Saarinen (Bloomfield Hills, MI 1946), Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (San Francisco, 1948), and Wurster, Bernardi, & Emmons (San Francisco 1949-1951). He opened his own practice in Berkeley in 1954, the same year he began teaching in the Architecture Program at the University of California. When the new College of Environmental Design was established in 1959, Olsen was a founding member of the Department of Architecture.
The Donald Olsen Collection spans the years 1941-1997 (Bulk dates 1952-1989) and includes files created by Olsen while working with Vernon DeMars and Joseph Esherick on Wurster Hall. The collection is organized into five series: Personal Papers, Professional Papers, Faculty Papers, Office Records, Project Records. The collection is extensive, 57 Linear Feet, and contains a wide range of materials documenting Olsen's long career as an architect and professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Olsen designed commercial and industrial spaces, but his career focused on designing residences; of which many are well documented in this collection.
Olsen’s white-painted, clean-lined houses have stood the test of time and continue to be admired today. The drawings and artifacts featured in the exhibit show the incredible variety of the Donald Olsen Collection.
Check out the article by Dave Weinstein that was featured on the CA Modern website in March: https://www.eichlernetwork.com/blog/dave-weinstein/was-olsen-norcal%E2%80%99s-coolest-modernist
2020 marks the 150th anniversary of women at UC Berkeley. The 150W History Project is an online portal celebrating the many accomplishments, watershed moments, and contributions of women at Berkeley illustrated by archives! Many departments across campus are participating in this initiative by submitting archival documents, memorabilia, and photographs to tell the stories of the women that came before them. The Environmental Design Archives (EDA) is excited to be contributing to this amazing project by showcasing some of the collections that we currently hold including the Julia Morgan Collection.
During the week of February 17-21, the EDA was invited to “take over” the UC Berkeley Instagram account. This weeklong take over emphasized the importance of Morgan’s contributions to architecture in the Bay Area and beyond. The EDA took viewers on a journey from Morgan’s education as a student in the College of Civil Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley where she also studied drawing with architect Bernard Maybeck (the architecture program would not be created for another six years) and followed her through a lifetime of “firsts”.
Following her graduation in 1894, with Maybeck’s encouragement, Morgan went to Paris to attend the École des Beaux-Arts and in 1901, where she became the first woman to graduate with a certificate in architecture.
Returning to the Bay Area, she worked for John Galen Howard, the UC Berkeley campus Architect and became the first woman in California to earn her architectural license, opening her San Francisco office in 1905.
Fun fact: It was the 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco that launched Morgan’s career. With her background in Civil Engineering and knowledge of reinforced concrete, she was sought after for her expertise. Many of her buildings survived the disaster while the rest of the city crumbled and burned. One of these projects was the bell tower on the campus of Mills College in Oakland!
Morgan is well known for her residences, but she also designed numerous institutional buildings such as churches, schools, hospitals, university buildings, swimming pools and a series of YWCA buildings.
On Sunday, March 1 Curator of the EDA, Chris Marino, joined the Annenberg Community Beach House to present "The Many Firsts of Julia Morgan: A Look at the Environmental Design Archives' Collection" for their annual Julia Morgan Legacy Event. Chris presented a look at Morgans’s life and career by showing the materials within the EDA’s collection. Following the talk, guests were able to visit the Morgan designed Guest House with the Santa Monica Conservancy docents. The Beach House pool is one of the remaining elements from the historic Marion Davies Estate. During the summer months, visitors can pay a small fee to use the pool and layout in the summer sun!
One of Morgan's largest commissions was William Randolph Hearst's La Cuesta Encantada, popularly known as Hearst Castle, in San Simeon. In 1919 she began work on the lavish and enormous compound, a project that continued for nearly twenty years and was never fully completed. Other designs for Hearst included a commercial building in San Francisco, his Wyntoon estate in Siskiyou County, the unbuilt San Francisco Medieval Museum, a residence for Marion Davies in Santa Monica, and the Babicora Hacienda in Mexico.
Although the exact number of Julia Morgan projects is unknown, during her career she is believed to have designed more than seven hundred buildings, most of which were constructed. She closed her office in 1951 at the age of seventy-nine. In 2014, more than 50 years after her death, Morgan was awarded the AIA Gold Medal for Architecture, the first woman to receive the prestigious honor.
Julia Morgan continues to be a source of inspiration for students, designers, historians, and those who simply appreciate architecture. She designed many buildings for institutions serving women and girls, including YWCA buildings and buildings for Mills College. Ivan Natividad, of Berkeley News, writes about this in his just-published article “Berkeley’s Julia Morgan collection shows alumna designed spaces for women” which can be viewed on the Berkeley News website.
While many of us might pass by a Morgan designed home or building on our daily commutes the EDA is excited to share the many contributions of Julia Morgan to those across the country and even the world. Our social media take over was viewed by more than 450,000 people! If you missed it, we have added it to our Instagram highlights for your viewing pleasure. The EDA is also a contributor to Calishpere, an online gateway to digital collections from California's great libraries, archives, and museums, where you can view many of the Morgan projects that have been digitized as well as browse our other collections.
Last year the EDA received an additional donation of materials from the family of Willa Cloys Carmack. We are excited to announce that this material will begin to be processed in January 2020 and will be available to researchers by the end of the spring semester! These materials, which include correspondence, photographs, plant lists, reference files, and travel paraphernalia, will greatly enhance the collection and provide greater insight into the career of Willa Cloys Carmack.
Willa Clair Cloys Carmack (1889-1968) was one of the first women to graduate with a degree in Landscape Architecture from UC Berkeley, which at that time was part of the Department of Agriculture under the direction of Professor John Gregg. After graduating with her degree in 1916, she is listed in the Berkeley City Directory, in 1917, as a Landscape Architect.
Willa Cloys was an only child, born November 1, 1889, in the Midwest. Her father, Edward H. Cloys was a building contractor and the family moved to California around the late nineteen-teens. By 1925, Willa married Robert M. Carmack, and based on the 1930 census they had two children, John and Sarah. [i] Throughout her career, which spanned more than thirty years, she secured several large estate commissions in and around Hillsborough, schools in San Leandro, the San Jose Women's Club, city parks in Petaluma, and a subdivision called Felton Gables in Menlo Park, among others. During the Depression, Cloys taught landscape design at the California School of Gardening, a school started by and for women in Hayward in 1926 and lectured at California garden clubs. She was also a founding member of the California Horticultural Society.
Some of her notable projects include Villa Delizia garden, the garden for the Lachman Estate, and the San Jose Women’s Club. Her collection is of great importance, as she was an early proponent of the use of native plants in California gardens and an active part of a network of women working to influence how we garden in California today.
[i] Biography of Willa Cloys Carmack by April Halberstadt, May 2007
Processing is currently underway for the Walter Hood Collection through funding provided by a National Endowment for the Humanities: Collections and Reference Resources Grant. Over the last few months, I’ve been doing an initial inventory of the legacy media (CDs, DVDs, and Zip disks) in the collection to prepare it for imaging (a process where the files on these items are captured in a way that makes them easier to preserve for the long term). Processing the files captured from these legacy media items will happen in 2020. Meanwhile, my focus for the remainder of 2019 has been to preserve and process the analog materials in Hood’s collection, which are primarily comprised of files, drawings, and photographs relating to his numerous projects. Processing these materials has been an important way to better understand Hood’s approach to design, particularly when looking at his thoughtful engagements with the communities he’s designing for. Hood utilizes meetings and worksheets to gather feedback from the people who live in the regions his designs are situated in, and these are well documented for many of his projects in the EDA’s holdings. This attentive approach can also be seen in numerous sketchbooks in his collection. The sketchbooks are a treasure trove of images and notes by Hood, from his early days as a student at CED, to travel throughout the Bay Area and beyond, to his initial visits to a region he’s thinking of designing for. I’ve found these sketchbooks to be a useful window into Hood’s design process!
Scroll below to see images from the sketchbooks. The Walter Hood Collection will be available to researchers in early 2021!
Blog by Curator Emeritus Waverly Lowell
October seemed to be Domoto month. A wonderful exhibit in the Lifchez cases in the Library and a great program with family, scholars, and friends honoring the life and work of architect/landscape architect Kaneji Domoto.[i] Being on the East Coast at the time, I couldn’t attend the program but was lucky enough to visit two Domoto Houses in Usonia, a neighborhood in Pleasantville New York. My host Lynnette Widder, lives in Domoto’s Lurie House, [image 1], curated a 2017 exhibit on the Usonian Houses [ii]at the Center for Architecture, and is working on a monograph about Domoto’s work. Lynette was busy with the ongoing restoration of the house and preparing to give a tour to the New York chapter of Docomomo the following day, but graciously showed us around.
Usonia, 35 miles north of New York City, was founded in 1944, as a unique demonstration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision of a designed community. Wright created the site plan [image 2] and designed a few of the homes, the rest were designed by a number of Taliesin Fellows. Kaneji Domoto studied at Taliesin prior to being interned during World War II, then opened his own practice in 1948.[iii] His five Usonian houses demonstrate his integration of Wrights ideas, Japanese aesthetics, the natural environment, and affordability.
The 1949 Lurie House is the most compact of Domoto’s five Usonian homes. [image 3] Comprised of a single-level rectangular plan covered by a shed roof and surrounded by what is now a mature woodland, a surprising amount of light passes below the tree canopy entering the house through south facing windows in the living room and a number of strategic skylights. Responding to his client’s requirements, the kitchen counters were built low for the petit Mrs. Lurie (impossible with current codes) and a bi-fold wall constructed between the daughters’ bedrooms should they wish to share the space, which according to Widder, was never opened. [image 4] The house was constructed primarily of solid cypress for the exterior and plywood veneer for the interiors. The living room was anchored by a large stone fireplace and separated from the kitchen by a suspended cabinet. [images 5 & 6]
The owners of the Bier house then welcomed us dropping by for a look in. [image 7] Also designed in 1949, this is the largest of the five Domoto Usonian homes. Large and airy, the cantilevered living room is open on all four sides either to the interior or the woods and floats above the surrounding meadow. [image 8] This house too has skylights and the sectioned windows originally had areas of colored glass glazing. A stone fireplace separates it from the slightly raised kitchen and other public rooms. [images 9 & 10]Domoto was also responsible for the landscaping that included wrapping a pre-existing tree with a dining terrace to preserve the shade it provided.
[ii] F.L. Wright’s Usonian houses were smaller and more affordable than his sprawling Prairie style residences, containing little ornamentation, and lacking basements or attics. Also, a concept or manifesto about housing and living that Wright began crafting in the 1930s
[iii] Widder, Lynette. Five Usonian Homes: Kaneji Domoto. Pleasantville, NY: Center for Architecture, 2017.
EDA Digital and Collections Archivist, Emily Vigor, and Reference Archivist, Katie Riddle are teaming up to process the Aaron G. Green Collection. The collection contains correspondence, photographs, project records, and a wide-ranging assortment of drawings that document Green’s extensive career.
Born in Corinth, Mississippi in 1917, Green studied architecture at Cooper Union in New York City where he learned about the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Green was invited by Wright to join Taliesin as an apprentice in the early 1940s. His architectural career was interrupted by WWII, during which he served as a bombardier in the Pacific theaters. After the war, he moved to Los Angeles to work with industrial designer Raymond Loewy, before relocating north to San Francisco where he founded Aaron G. Green Associates in the early 1950s, a practice dedicated to service-oriented design.
During this time, Green acted as Wright’s West Coast representative, including seeing through the completion of the Marin County Civic Center after Wright's death. During his career, Green designed residential, commercial, industrial, municipal, judicial, religious, mass housing, and educational projects. Some of his well-known projects include The American Hebrew Academy (1999), The Marin Civic Center in San Rafael (1960-1966), Aaron Green Residence at Nine Oaks (1954), St. Elizabeth Seton (1987-2000) and both mausoleum and chapel additions to the Chapel of the Chimes Memorial Park in Oakland, CA (1955-1997).
This collection contains 200 cartons of manuscript and photographic material as well as over 700 tubes of rolled drawings. Emily and Katie are jointly working on processing the manuscript materials before tackling the drawings. During this process, they are re-housing the collection into acid-free folders and containers to preserve the materials. Once the processing is completed, they will finalize a project index, file list, and finding aid which will be available online to researchers. Look below for a sneak peek at some of the amazing projects in this collection: