Portfolio 5: Architecture, Design, and EngineeringThe Library's Architecture, Design, and Engineering holdings document the full spectrum of American architectural achievement, from the grand tradition of academic classicism, in federal projects like the U.S. Capitol, to the vernacular spirit informing Spanish missions as well as roadside architecture. Through a variety of types of works on paper, among them developmental sketches, measured record drawings, and photographs, the collections document the design process and its products.
Notable among these holdings are the archives of "form- givers," individuals such as Charles Bulfinch, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Raymond Loewy. They and others like them have redefined some aspect of American architecture, design, and engineering and given it new form. Another collection focus is on the introduction and uses in the United States of new building types and technologies, from cast-iron storefronts to steel suspension bridges.
Laura Gilpin. Mission Church at Rancho de Taos, New Mexico,
circa 1772. Platinum print photograph.
Built in 1772 by Spanish missionaries and native Americans,
the Mission Church is an amalgam of European and indigenous
building traditions. Made of adobe, a brick composed of
straw and mud, the walls slope outward to buttress the
structure and to fend off the effects of torrential rains.
The Mission Church was recorded in photographs and drawings
by the Historic American Buildings Survey in the 1930s and
has enjoyed great popularity with artists such as
photographer Laura Gilpin and painter Georgia O'Keefe, who
both lived nearby. (Gift of the photographer)
Charles Bulfinch. Front of Boston Library,
Franklin place (Tontine Crescent, Central Pavilion). Graphite and ink on paper,
The "crescent" of sixteen three-story brick houses with a
pavilion at the center, known as the Tontine Crescent, was
the first American native-born professional architect's
initial attempt at town planning. Built in the South End,
Boston, the crescent was conceived as one half of a planned
ellipse, in the center of which was to be a small park.
Although roundly praised by Bulfinch's contemporaries, the
scheme ruined the architect financially, and was never
Frank Lloyd Wright. Perspective
Drawing for the Dr. John
Storer House, Hollywood, California. Graphite and colored pencil on paper. 1923.
Perhaps the greatest genius of American architecture, Frank
Lloyd Wright experimented widely during the 1920s with new
design vocabularies and building systems. One of his few
built works of the period, the Storer House was also one of
the first to employ a system of precast "textile" blocks,
whose three-dimensional surfaces enliven its exterior.
(Gift of Donald Walker)
Company. The Woolworth Building at Night. Gelatin silver print, 1913.
This commercially produced photograph records the opening
festivities of what was for seventeen years the world's
tallest building, and which remains a symbol of American
technological and commercial achievement. The Library also
holds architect Cass Gilbert's original 1910 sketch for this
building. The photograph is from among over 25,000 images
of American cities, towns, and landscapes created by the
Detroit Publishing Company
between the 1890s and the 1920s. (Gift of the Colorado Historical Society)
Photographer unknown. Kewpee Hotels
Hamburgs. Gelatin silver photoprint, 193-.
Roadside architecture is a longstanding genre in the
American vernacular tradition. In the 1930s, buildings
such as this hamburger stand were state of the art, using
the latest in high technology porcelain enamel siding which
imparted to such public eating places an efficient and
sanitary appearance. Frequently destroyed with the
changing times, roadside curiosities such as this often
survive only in photographs and drawings.
(Gift of Mrs. Louise Ray)
Badger. Frontispiece, Illustrations of Iron Architecture (New York: Baker &
Godwin, 1865). Lithograph printed in colors.
The Library's collections richly document the development,
introduction, and manifold uses of new technologies in the
design and building industries of the United States. From
the 1850s until after the turn of the century, cast iron was
widely and innovatively employed throughout the United
States as both a structural and decorative building
material. This rare and beautifully illustrated example
from the Library's extensive collection of manufacturers'
trade catalogs preserves for us the work of New York City's
Architectural Iron Works, one of the finest suppliers of
cast-iron facades and other architectural elements.
Charles and Ray Eames, for Evans Furniture. LCW (Lounge Chair--Wood). Recent gelatin silver print from original film negative, 1945. [Not currently available due to copyright restrictions.]
Charles and Ray Eames first experimented with molded plywood during World War II, designing aircraft parts and splints for the U.S. Navy. Adapting their ideas for the postwar market, the Eameses designed for commercial firms such as Evans Furniture an array of products--tables, radios, and their first signature chair, the "LCW" (Lounge Chair--Wood) --in this versatile material. Intended for mass production, the lounge chair was emblematic of the clean lines and good design associated with the "simple living" so strongly desired in the American postwar market. The photograph of the prototype of the chair is from among the estimated 750,000 photographs, drawings, and related materials in the archive of the Office of Charles and Ray Eames. (The Work of Charles and Ray Eames, Bequest of Ray Eames)
Raymond Loewy. Design sketch for the Avanti Automobile. Fluid marker on paper, 1961. Reproduction #: LC-USZC4-3923 (color transparency)
One of the inventors of modern industrial design, Raymond
Loewy redefined the look of everything from logos to
locomotives. For many years the principal designer for the
Studebaker Corporation, Loewy used this drawing in designing
the Avanti sedan in February 1961.