All posts by Jessica Aberle

New Books for Summer Reading

This week we received quite an assortment of new books. To follow are the ones I am most excited about, but you should stop by the new books table at APL to find one that excites you!

American Furniture 2015. Edited by Luke Beckerdite. Lebanon New Hampshire: Chipstone Foundation and University Press of New England, 2015.

AmericanFurnitureThis year’s American Furniture includes two articles on sulfur inlay, an article on Barnard Eaglesfield, and one announcing a new research project at the Chipstone Foundation on John Widdifield. According to the Chipstone Foundation:

The collector who acquired the book [notebook of John Widdifield] has generously allowed the Chipstone Foundation to publish it in this volume of American Furniture and make it, along with a keyword searchable transcription, available on the foundation’s website,, and that of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Widdifield’s notebook will also be designated as an ongoing research project on Chipstone’s website, thus allowing scholars, students, and others to publish work related to that manuscript. This introduction to the book is intended to begin that dialogue. (“The Notebook of Philadelphia Joiner John Widdifield,” 17.)

I could not find the digitized material on Chipstone; however, the Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture, University of Wisconsin does have the digitized copy available with full text searching. If you are interested in early American furniture, the notebook and larger project  might be of interest to you.

Taut, Bruno. The City Crown. Translated and edited by Matthew Mindrup and Ulrike Altenmüller-Lewis. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2015.

Mindrup and Altenmüller-Lewis  write: The texts and images in thisTautCrown translation are organized to retain the original format of the book – a composition of layers intended to guide the reader to understand the efficacy of his city crown proposal. Mindrup and Altenmüller-Lewis continue: As a work, we hope this first English translation of Tuat’s seminal anthology will become a critical text in architectural studies on the history of European Modernism, urban design theory and Taut’s oeuvre in general. (Preface, xii)

In addition to the translations of the works of Bruno Taut, Paul Scheerbart,  Erich Baron, and and Adolf Behne, the editors also wrote an introductory essay and afterword.

Köhler, Thomas and Ursula Müller. Radically Modern: Urban Planning and Architecture in 1960s Berlin. Berlin: Ernst Wasmuth Verlag, 2015.

RadicallyModernRadically Modern is the publication that accompanied the exhibit at Berlinische Galerie. Müller writes:

The focus is on the implementation, in both halves of the city, of modern planning objectives which – for all the heterogeneity and the efforts made during the Cold War to draw distinctions – can be interpreted today as emphasizing common ground between the two cultures of construction. Deeply unsettled by the events of the Second World War, and visually confronted by urban destruction, planners and architects rigorously refused – apart from a few exceptions – to rebuild the traditional city. (Introduction, 18)

The catalogue is extensively illustrated with archival materials, photographs, and models. Additionally, nine essays explore the topics- Risen from Ruins, Urban Spaces/Urban Dreams, Techno-Geometries, Serial Diversity, Large Housing Estates and Oppositions.

AASL Seattle 2016

This past March several members of the staff from the Library and Archives attended the Association of Architecture School Librarians Annual Conference held this year in Seattle with ARLIS/NA and VRA. Beth Dodd, Katie Pierce Meyer, and myself were all part of the programming committee. We were charged with organizing the conference sessions, which included both traditional sessions and lightning rounds. The topics included: Building New Models: Library as Learning Lab; Engaging the School: Making Scholarship Visible; Co-constructing and Documenting Place; and Evolving Architectural Collections and Connections.  Stephanie Tiedeken had the chance to present her capstone project on Islandora, a data asset management system, while I spoke about a DH project, Still Looking for You, which I worked on at Lehigh University.

In addition to the conference sessions, we also had the chance to explore Seattle, both on our own and with guided tours. I attended the tours: University of Washington Campus Architecture Tour: “Building a Polyvalent Campus, 1895-2015” and “Pike/Pine: Change on a Urban Scale.” The latter was led by the Seattle Architecture Foundation Tour Guide.  I greatly enjoyed the Pike/Pine tour which examined the challenge of preserving the neighborhood identity and fabric in the face of urban renewal and the changing demographic of residents.

Katie and I also made the pilgrimage to see Hat ‘n’ Boots. We spent months talking about visiting this restored example of roadside architecture, now part of a neighborhood park!



Friday Finds: Grotesque Architecture or Rural Amusement

Wrighte, William. Grotesque Architecture; or, Rural Amusement: Consisting of Plans, Elevations, and Sections, for Huts, Retreats, Summer and Winter Hermitages, Terminaries, Chinese, Baths, Mosques, Moresque Pavilions, Grotesque and Rustic Seats, Green Houses, &c. Many of which may be executed with Flints, Irregular Stones, Rude Branches, and Roots of Trees. The Whole Containing Twenty-Eight New Designs with Scales to Each. To which is added an Explanation with the Method of Executing Them. London: J. Taylor, 1802.


April is World Landscape Architecture Month, and I realized today that I have nearly let April slip by without recognizing it. I thus selected William Wrighte’s work which includes designs for follies, bridges, baths, and water features. The style of the designs reflects rustic and Gothic architecture as well as an influences from Eastern cultures. Each plate is accompanied by a brief description to aid in the construction of the structures with tips on its ornamentation or siting.

Friday Finds: Built in USA

Museum of Modern Art. Built in USA since 1932. Edited by Elizabeth Mock. Forward by Philip F. Goodwin. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1945.

Museum of Modern Art. In USA Erbaut, 1932-1944. Edited by Elizabeth Mock. Forward by Philip F. Goodwin. Wiesbaden: Metopen Verlag, [1948].

While I was in Special Collections, pulling books for a class  visit in a few weeks,  I came across MoMA’s Built in the USA, both the American and German editions. Each still had its original cover. What I found particularly striking about the covers was the different representations of American architecture. The American cover is a black and white photograph of Heckendorf House (1939) in Modesto, CA by John Funk. The German cover rather has a stylized drawing of a modern skyscraper.

Exhibit Opening – To Better Know a Building: NexusHaus

TexasGermany4 copyThis exhibit series seeks to explore buildings through drawings and other visual items found in the Alexander Architectural Archive and Architecture & Planning Library with a focus on working drawings.

The fourth installment in the series features the NexusHaus. The University of Texas at Austin and the Technische Universität München U.S. Solar Decathlon 2015 house combines the efforts of an international group of students in an affordable, modular residential green building design. The house demonstrates transformative technologies that make it Zero Net Energy, Zero Net Water capable and carbon neutral in its use of sustainable building materials.

Among the UT students on the Nexushaus team, 41 were from the Cockrell School of Engineering, 36 were from the School of Architecture, four were from the McCombs School of Business, three were from the College of Liberal Arts and there is one each from the Jackson School of Geosciences, the College of Natural Sciences and the Moody College of Communication.

UT Austin students placed fourth overall in the prestigious 2015 Solar Decathlon competition.The Nexushaus team also finished third in the Solar Decathlon’s Engineering Contest and second in the Affordability Contest.

After the competition, NexusHaus was shipped to McDonald Observatory in West Texas and reassembled to house scientists and other University staff members.

We would like to thank UT School of Architecture faculty members Michael Garrison, Petra Liedl and Adam Pyrek for their willingness to donate to the Alexander Architectural Archive the documentation for the NexusHaus for future researchers to access.

These drawings of the NexusHaus are a fine example of the current art of construction drawings.

The opening reception is Monday, March 28 at 6pm in the Reading Room of the Architecture & Planning Library in Battle Hall.

Southern Architect and Building News: Update

In the summer of 2010, Amanda Keyes blogged about the journal  Southern Architect and Building News housed in APL’s Special Collections  (for reference: Architectural Drawing, Now and Then). I wanted to provide an update regarding the work that was done, as researchers pepper us with questions now and then.

Ms. McDougal’s kind gift provided APL the opportunity to build and test a prototype database to index the material in Southern Architect and Building News. Additionally, a cataloging manual based upon the guidelines established by the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals was also written. Unfortunately, the initiative to index and digitize the journal was never fulfilled. APL has not had the resources to either digitize or create article level metadata around the journal content. We are excited to have the opportunity to revisit this project by applying for CLIR’s Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives: Enabling New Scholarship through Increasing Access to Unique Materials grant competition.

Friday Finds: Fireplaces

For the past couple of weeks, I have been contemplating the transmission of ideas as it relates to architecture. While browsing Special Collections, I found several books on fireplaces – two catalogs, one a history, and the last a reprint of an eighteenth-century pattern book – that provide another opportunity to think a bit further about ideas on the move.

Architectural Decorating Company (Chicago, Ill.). Fireplaces: catalog no. 101. Chicago: Architectural Decorating Company, [19–].

The writer of the catalog proclaims the importance of the fireplace to any American home:

For ages at the twilight hour humans have drawn together at the firelight’s cheerful glow. In habitations throughout the centuries, the fireplace has received special attention, and some of the loveliest art of all ages has been lavished upon it.

Today, thanks to modern methods of production, the best of classic mantel designs from various periods are available to every home. For the bungalow or palace, there is an appropriate mantel in cast stone whose lines will focus the very spirit of the home into a glowing shrine about which the family may gather. (pg. 19)

Each page is dedicated to a single fireplace with a black and white photograph, measurements, molding profile, and an identified style. The styles include Louis XIV, XV, and XVI, Adam, Colonial, Tudor, Georgian, Italian, and several variations on the theme of Renaissance. The intended audience of the catalog is builders and architects. The writer notes “They [fireplaces] help close sales.” (pg. 1)

Young & Martin, Ltd., London. The HUE (Heat, Utility, Economy) adaptable barless fire; a book of designs for discriminating home-lovers. 15th ed. [London? 19–?].

The second catalog comes from a British company in which a new type of stove can be placed into an existing fireplace. Accordingly:

The “HUE” has been placed before the public as an Easy, Inexpensive and Efficient method of converting the old-fashioned, coal-wasting type of grate into a modern barless stove, possessing all the advantages of the very latest improvements in open grates without the necessity of pulling down mantelpieces and removing existing stoves. (pg. 2)

The models are assigned one or two to a page, accompanied by measurements, a rendering – some reproduced in color – materials and finish. Unlike the catalog from the Architectural Decorating Company, the target audience appears to be the general public. Some of the illustrations, for example, create atmosphere and context so that the customer would not have to imagine how the fireplace might look in their homes. The cover includes an illustration of the “glowing shrine” as described in the previous catalog. Furthermore, Young & Martin, Ltd. refrain from architectural styles, preferring to bestow names onto their fireplaces like “Hampton” or “Windsor.”

Our copy is well worn. A previous owner sketched a ruler onto the rendering of the “Henley.”

Pgs. 14-15

Rothery, Guy Cadogan. English chimney-pieces, their design and development from the earliest times to the nineteenth century; with an architectural notice by A. L. Kocher. New York, Architectural Book Publishing Co. [1927].

Guy Cadogan Rothery provides a brief history of the fireplace from the medieval period to the nineteenth century, followed by an extensive photo essay and accompanied with some architectural drawings of fireplaces. Our copy of English Chimney-Pieces belonged to J. A. Sherman of Ipswich with an associated date of August 1928. After a bit of research, I was not able to positively identify Sherman as an architect. A previous owner of the book, whether Sherman or otherwise, taped a drawing of a fireplace into the front end papers of the work.

Langley, Batty. 1750. The city and country builder’s and workman’s treasury of designs: or, The art of drawing and working the ornamental parts of architecture. Illustrated by upwards of four hundred … designs … engraved on one hundred and eighty-six copper-plates, for piers, gates, doors [etc.] … With an appendix of fourteen plates of trusses for girders and beams, different sorts of rafters, and a variety of roofs, &c. To which are prefixed, the five orders of columns, according to Andrea Palladio … The whole interspersed with sure rules for working all the varieties of raking members in pediments, modillions, &c. … By B. L. Boston: Boston Architectural Club, 1922.

Of the four books, the reprint issued by the Boston Architectural Club of B. Langley’s architectural drawings for various decorative elements – including fireplaces – is my favorite. Our copy is part of the Paul Cret collection.  While the work is a facsimile of an eighteenth-century work, it also includes extensive advertisements often associated with a trade publications. I find the juxtaposition of these two elements speaks to both historical practice and need.

Stuff and Things: Better Homes and Gardens

Better Homes & Gardens Decorating Book. Des Moines: Meredith Pub. Co., 1956.

Front Cover
Front Cover

The staff at APL is in the process of reviewing our circulating collection. During this process, we sometimes come across a gem. The Better Homes & Gardens Decorating Book from 1956 is one of those. The photographs and graphics are amazing, making the book well worth a look. I recognize parts of my grandparents’ house in it. If you are researching interior design and decorating during the 1950s and 1960s, this book is a great primary source. It’s a how-to-manual for the home owner without a decorator.

Back Cover
Back Cover

New Books at Architecture and Planning: A New Semester Begins!

APL started the semester off right with nearly 40 new books this week! I imagine we might just have a new book for you whatever your interest.  Three are highlighted below, though it was difficult to choose!

BriscoeDBriscoe, Danelle. Beyond BIM: Architecture Information Modeling. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2016.

First, I would like to congratulate Professor Briscoe on her new book, Beyond BIM. APL was most excited to see its arrival!

Millet, Larry. Minnesota Modern: Architecture and Life at Midcentury. With photographs by Denes Saari and Maria Forrai Saari.  Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.

After an introductory essay, Minnesota Modern is arranged MilletLthematically by building type: commercial buildings, roadside architecture, public buildings, religious works, and domestic architecture. Set between each chapter are examples of mid-century houses from Minnesota. Each collection is arranged chronologically and includes photos, documents, and a description of the various houses.  Millet concludes his survey  by arguing for the preservation of Minnesota’s Mid-Century heritage. He writes, “At present, however, only a handful of midcentury buildings in Minnesota- among them Christ Lutheran Church and three works by Frank Lloyd Wright- are listed on the National Register” (pg. 339).  Of the works included in the survey, I am quite struck by the design of Northwestern National Life Insurance Building, Minneapolis (1964)- I am rather drawn to the attenuated arches. I also greatly enjoyed looking at the motels, bowling alleys, and gas stations – which includes  one designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Levine, Neil. The Urbanism of Frank Lloyd Wright. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016.

LevineNWe received this new work on Frank Lloyd Wright by Neil Levine- and I thought it might be of interest to many of our patrons. Levine writes in his conclusion:

At the very least, one can say initially, in this brief conclusion, that Broadacre City proved to be but a deviation revealing its unique place in Wright’s urbanism as a polemical critique, purely theoretical construct, and sui generis proposition. Through its multiple case studies of designs for real conditions and sites, this book has shown how Wright’s urbanism was a broad-ranging, continually evolving effort to enrich city life that cannot and should not be reduced to an exceptional vision for a utopian agrarian world of rural-like existence. (pg. 385)

I will add that Levine heavily illustrates his work primarily with drawings from The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives. Included among the illustrations are two night perspectives- one of Point Park Civic Center and the other of the Madison Civic Center.  As I am not as familiar with the work of Wright, I was quite surprised by these beautiful illustrations.

So Many New Books at APL!

Just as the semester is coming to close, APL received a bunch of new books. To follow is a selection of the ones that appealed most to me- monographs on Piranesi and The Dakota, respectively, and two works on architectural types, the English Cottage and the Russian wooden church. But you should stop in and see the the lot of them yourself!

Minor, Heather Hyde. Piranesi’s Lost Words. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2015.

According to Heather Hyde Minor:

The books he [Piranesi] produced were his most powerfully creative art. The complex and compelling story found in the pages of his folios reveals that Piranesi was not just fiercely talented artist but an extraordinary author. (pg. 209)

MinorMinor examines the career of Piranesi as an author. Her first two chapters consider reader reception of his work, Antichità romane, in the twenty-first and eighteenth centuries, respectively. The next three chapters are each dedicated to one of Piranesi’s texts and its larger context: Campus Martius antiquae urbis, Della magnificenza ed architettura de’ Romani, and Diverse maniere d’adornare i cammini ed ogni altra parte degli edifizi desunte dall’architettura Egizia, Etrusca e Greca. Finally, Minor traces the history of Piranesi’s works after his death. Ultimately, Minor seeks to create an understanding about the relationship between the images of the texts and the texts themselves (pg. 1-12).

Alpern, Andrew. The Dakota: A History of the World’s Best-Known Apartment Building. With contributions by Christopher S. Gray. Photographs by Kenneth G. Grant. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2015.

AlpernIn his monograph on The Dakota, Andrew Alpern includes a wide variety of evidence in his documentation of the apartment building. The topics addressed include historical context, location, architect, patron, its iconic stature, the residents, and preservation. Mia Ho contributed new plans of the apartment building. Historical and current photographs in addition to other archival material are reproduced for the book. Finally, Alpern has included 10 documents, published between 1878 and 1889 about The Dakota in the appendices.

Maudlin, Daniel. The Idea of the Cottage in English Architecture, 1760-1860. New York: Routledge, 2015.

Daniel Maudlin writes:

MaudlinThe Idea of the Cottage in English Architecture is the history of the architect-designed cottage between 1760 and 1860. The architect-designed cottage, predominantly expressed in new designs for small buildings on country estates and large villas by the sea, was the product of specific discourses in English architectural writings on landscape, rural retreat and the simple life. (pg. 1)

I selected this work, because I often find books related to cottages and landscape in Special Collections. If you are interested in this topic, we have great primary source material- some of which has be represented on Battle Hall Highlights.

Khodakovsky, Evgeny. Wooden Church Architecture of the Russian North: Regional Schools and Traditions (14th-19th Centuries). New York: Routledge, 2016.

Evgeny Khodakovsky writes:

KhodakovskyMy deep immersion in this rich and varied material also engendered a conviction that it should be made accessible to more than only a Russian-speaking audience. With this publication of an academic survey of the wooden architecture of the Russian North in English, my aim is to see it included in the history of world art as the most Russian phenomenon within Russian architecture, free of any sort of external influences or involvements.  A further factor of no small importance is that the book represents a response to the long-standing interest in wooden architecture as one of the components of Russian national artistic culture that has been manifested by English-language writers as far back as the mid-sixteenth century… (pg. xiii)

His chapters address issues related to source material, geography, historical interest, and typology. Flipping through the book, I would say that I wish it was more extensively illustrated. There are some great black and white photos of the churches and construction details; however, the drawings and interior photographs are limited.