New Books at APL: Gifts for Special Collections

Last fall a generous donation was made to UT Libraries that provided APL the opportunity to purchase materials to enhance our Special Collections. Katie and I selected three books to compliment our southern architecture collection that includes Southern Architect and Building News.

Anniston City Directory, 1889-1890: A General Directory of the Citizens, Directory of the Churches, Societies, Associations, and Miscellaneous Information. Sketches of the Rise and Progress of the Leading Industries, Illustrations and a Complete History the Model City of the South. Anniston, Alabama: G. H. Norwood, 1889.

The title of this book caught our eye with its reference to Anniston, Alabama as a model city, especially during this period of history in the South.  While more than half the book is a city directory – which someone has updated and annotated in pencil – the last third is a description of the town with illustrations of several of its buildings. The description includes Anniston’s industries, climate, and praise from various individuals. It would be quite interesting to search Southern Architect and Building News for Anniston in order to understand how the model city is represented or not represented in SABN.

Official Views: Cotton States and International Exposition, Atlanta 1895. Issued by the official photographic company. Negatives by C.D. Arnold. St. Louis: C. B. Woodward Printing, 1895.

Official Views was particularly interesting to us, because APL does not currently own any Southern Architect and Building News from 1895 – though APL does have a few that predate it. While I cannot speculate on how Southern Architect might have covered the Cotton States and International Exposition, the Official Views includes photographs of individual buildings, general views of the fair, the Midway, fairgoers, and peoples or cultures on display. The work consists only of photographs and lacks accompanying text or a plan of the fair. I was surprised that only four state buildings are documented – Georgia, Alabama, New York, and Pennsylvania. Architecturally, the style of the fair appears mixed. Some of the main buildings evoke Jeffersonian architectural ideals, while those on the Midway are fantastical or call to mind far away lands.

W. T. Downing. Domestic Architecture. Atlanta: Franklin Print. and Pub. Co., 1897.

Domestic ArchitectureDomestic Architecture consists of plans and photographs that document the residential work of W. T. Downing, acting as his portfolio. He also included advertisements in addition to the plans and photographs. He writes: “…only firms that have done work or furnished materials for me and whom I can recommend have been permitted to insert cards” (Introduction, pg. 15). I find the inclusion of advertisements, which are predominantly from Atlanta, particularly important, as it helps to document the building network around W. T. Downing during this period. Again, one might compare both the representation of W. T. Downing and each of the advertisements to that of Southern Architect.

Friday Finds: Pencil Points, Vol. XV

Pencil Points - Cover SheetIt’s Friday again, and that means it’s time for Friday Finds!  Today’s featured player from Special Collections  is Pencil Points Volume XV from 1934.   Pencil Points was published monthly from 1920-1943 and became one of the premier architectural journals, including plans, sketches, articles, and letters from architects in the United States and Europe.

The article topics range from architectural history to appraisal instructions.  Recurring segments appear, such as “Ripley’s Recipes” by Hubert G. Ripley, which discusses recipes for cocktails and food alike, as well as “New York and Its Plans” by Francis S. Swales.  “New York and Its Plans” analyzes the layout and architecture of New York City.  Swales makes the argument that “New York was not planned to be a great or beautiful city, but as the biggest land subdivision on earth,” and that changes must be made to the city in order to adapt it to current needs (pg. 353).

In addition to the beautiful etchings and plans, the historical context of 1934 makes the issues particularly fascinating.   Approximately one year after President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office, the recovery Pencil Points - Detail Drawingfrom the Great Depression remained slow but persistent. Roosevelt’s New Deal policies are very much present in Pencil Points.  The Sketch Club of Chicago wrote a piece recommending improvements to the National Industrial Recovery Act, including proposing that “the minimum rate of pay for designers, draftsmen, specification writers, superintendents, and other technical employees shall be not less than $15 per week of 35 hours” (pg. Pencil Points - Watercolor46).   Another piece includes an interview of James A. Moffett, Administrator of the National Housing Act, another staple  of the New Deal, which focuses entirely on the impact of the Act on architects.  Moffett told the editors that “‘the success of the whole undertaking may be fairly said to depend on how active the architects are in furthering the movement to modernize existing buildings and build new houses'” (pg. 373).

Through this historical lens, the importance of architects in bringing back the American economy and jobs becomes clear, as a major aspect of the New Deal was building projects.  With the beginning of the recovery depicted in these 1934 journals, the importance and creativeness of architects (as well as the push to modernize) shine; there is a palpable excitement about the growing job opportunities and potential influence of architects in changing American homes and cities that permeates the 1934 Pencil Points.Pencil Points - Venice



New Book: Architecture and Urbanism in the British Empire

Bremner, G. A., ed. Architecture and Urbanism in the British Empire. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Bremner CoverDr. G. A. Bremner presents the first comprehensive resource on architecture and urban planning in the British Empire in this companion to the Oxford History of the British Empire.   The survey spans from thematic elements of imperial and colonial architecture to the specific implementation of those plans, as well as the “local variation” of architecture across the Empire.  Bremner writes in the introduction, “colonialism was all but impossible without the buildings and spaces that articulated its presence…this naturally has consequences for how any post-colonial nation state imagines both its past and future” (pg. 1-2).

While not complete in its overview, Architecture and Urbanism in the British Empire serves as an introduction to the major themes of imperial and colonial architecture and planning.  The contributors cover a wide range of topics, including the planning of colonial cities, the use of monuments to establish dominance and authority, and close studies of British imperial architecture in colonies (North America, India, Australia, and Africa, among others).

Bremner and the contributors highlight the British use of urban planning and architecture to assert control over the empire, and many of those buildings remain standing today, revealing the permanence of British influence through its architecture.  This raises a fascinating, perplexing question – did the sun ever truly set on the British Empire?

Come by the library to check out this book or any of the others that arrived this week!


Welcome Back – New Books to Start Your Semester!

LongLong, Christopher. The New Space: Movement and Experience in Viennese Modern Architecture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016.

One of the new books I wanted to highlight this week is Christopher Long’s new book on modern architecture in Vienna, The New Space. He writes in the introduction:

My project, however, is an effort to suggest a different reading of their spatial programs, one that does not entirely replace the old one, but seeks to offer a significant amendment: that a core part of the spatial explorations of all three architects [Strnad, Frank, and Loos] had to do not only with the design or configuration of spaces, but the ways in which the experience of space through movement might affect the viewer or inhabitant. (pg. xiii)

Congratulations to Professor Long on his new book!

GIliGili, Oberto and Marella Caracciolo Chia. Domus: A Journey into Italy’s Most Creative Interiors. New York: Rizzoli, 2016.

I selected to highlight this book for our students in Interior Design. Marella Caracciolo Chia writes of hers and Oberto Gili’s inspiration for this book:

The concept of rooms that reveal a good story is what this book is essentially about. Oberto Gili and I started talking about recording our “journey” through these “narrative interiors” ever since we met in 1993… We discovered many beautiful interiors but what stayed with us were the ones belonging to highly creative individuals. Domus plays tribute to Italy’s centuries-old tradition of using arts and crafts to create masterful interiors. (pgs. 10-11)

Stop in today to check these works out as well as the many others that arrived this week!

New Books: Archigraphy

Laube, Agnes and Michael Widrig. Archigraphy: Lettering on Building. Basel, Switzerland : Birkhäuser, 2016.

archigraphyWe received several new books this week, but one in particular caught my eye – Laube and Widrig’s Archigraphy. I rather love the interplay between the representation of lettering with a building or architectural style. The authors write:

It is only when architects and graphic designers enter into an open dialogue that the two disciplines are able mutually to enrich one another. Convincing, multilayered solutions are generated particularly when the theme of signage is integrated into the planning process at an early stage. (pg. 5)

The work is divided in two sections. The first consists of a series of four thematic essays. The first essay considers the history of text and architecture, while the last the tension between the two. The second half of the books includes 28 case studies from contemporary projects.