The Architecture & Planning Library and the Alexander Architectural Archives are pleased to recognize the 80th anniversary of the University of Texas Tower’s dedication by featuring the iconic structure in its fifth installment of the To Better Know a Building exhibition series.
The Alexander Architectural Archive is fortunate to have an abundance of documentation for the building including construction drawings, shop drawings, construction photographs and project files from the University of Texas Buildings collection. Correspondence between the architects and the University can be found in the Faculty Building Committee records kept by Robert Leon White, supervising architect.
The 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.
Plans, elevations, sections and details communicate the realization of design intent and can be used as a vehicle in teaching through example.
The exhibit opens on February 27, 2017, with a reception, and the exhibit extends through August 7, 2017. Free and open to the public.
Last spring, the Architecture and Planning Library piloted a new lecture series with the mission is to promote innovative scholarship and build a community of practice of Digital Scholars both on a local and national scale. To that end, we developed the lecture series, Digital Scholars in Practice (DSiP), which provides a platform for scholars – who conduct research through digital technologies, who conduct research on digital technologies, and who critically examine digital technologies – to share their research with the UT academic community.
The primary focus of the lecture series is to connect those interested in digital scholarship with each other, and we also seek to introduce the work, theories, methodologies, and practices of digital scholars to the campus community. In doing so, we hope to engage in the much larger debates around digital scholarship and to situate UT Libraries as a locus of Digital Scholarship.
The spring pilot included two speakers and an accompanying workshop. Danelle Briscoe was our first speaker. She is an associate professor and the Meadows Foundation Centennial Fellow in Architecture. Professor Briscoe’s lecture, Archiving the Information Model, focused on the research from her new book, Beyond BIM: Architecture and Information Modeling.
Our second speaker was Ed Triplett, a recent graduate from the Department of Architectural History at the University of Virginia and currently a Council on Library and Information Resources Postdoctoral Fellow at Duke. His lecture, Mapping and Modeling the Christian Reconquest of Muslim Iberia, discussed his dissertation research and his use of photogrammetry and GIS as applied to his research questions. He also led a work shop on photogrammetry, Capturing Large, Sculptural Art and Architecture with Photogrammetry, in the Scholars Commons Data Lab in PCL. Both the lectures and workshops were well attended and received positive feedback.
Our first lecture of the new term will feature, Benjamin Ibarra Sevilla from the UT’s School of Architecture. Using digital technologies, Professor Benjamin Ibarra will address the challenge of representing and explaining the details and intricacies applied in the design, development, and construction of three sixteenth-century buildings constructed in the Oaxacan Mixteca. His research has received numerous awards.
This semester APL formed a partnership with the newly founded Digital Scholarship team in UT Libraries. We look forward to collaborating with this new unit to promote the work of Digital Scholars on campus. Moreover, we hope the partnership will broaden our network of Digital Scholars. We are also currently developing a website for the lecture series and working to archive the recordings from the lectures.
The Library Staff Council arranged a tour of the General Land Office for the staff of the University of Texas Libraries in late July. Several members of the Architecture and Planning Library and Alexander Architectural Archives had the opportunity to attend. It was a fantastic tour!
The GLO is a great resource if you are looking for information about land settlement and ownership in the state of Texas. Many of the resources, we discovered, are also available online. They have digitized nearly 40,000 maps. While the maps are for purchase, it’s a quick way to search their collection. Researchers may also search in the Land Grants Database – again many of these resources are available digitally. Finally, I wanted to link to their list of collections and to their list of services, which includes information about fees associated with licensing and digitization of images. If you have any questions about the materials at the GLO, do not hesitate to contact them – they are friendly and incredibly knowledgeable.
Please note: The photos are of the former General Land Office on the Capital Grounds. The current office is near the Bullock Museum.
Explore UT, that carnival of an open house, that invasion of miniature wide eyed students and their exhausted parents, whose scale rivals the world’s fair, will be held on campus one month from today on Saturday March the 5th. In order to do our part to help recruit some new students for the university and the School of Architecture, we at the Architecture and Planning Library have prepared a few quasi educational sideshows. There will be materials for coloring, a game to test your knowledge of fictional architecture, and a clown who will show you how to make a simple book. The activities will be held in the library’s reading room in Battle Hall from 11-5, except the book making which will be held from 12-3. If you don’t care for activities, then the classical beauty and grandeur of Battle Hall should be reason enough to pay us a visit, and should also be far more compelling to an impressionable young student than any game could be. Come explore our library!
Blake Alexander, namesake of the Alexander Architectural Archive, was born on February 4, 1924 in Paris, Texas. He was a longtime architectural educator at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture as well as a dedicated force in the education, documentation and preservation of Texas heritage.
Professor Alexander first started the collection that today is known as the Alexander Architectural Archive in 1958 when he adapted an assignment for his architectural history course at UT to follow the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) format. This required students to measure and document historic Texas structures. The documentation collection quickly outgrew his office and began to collect in a small storage room, dubbed “Alexander’s Closet”.
During the 1960’s, a student brought Professor Alexander large paper sacks full of water-damaged drawings that had survived the 1900 Galveston hurricane. The drawings were from prominent local architect Nicholas Clayton, and sparked the idea to welcome the donation of original drawings by Texas architects that deserved to be preserved. In 1979, The University of Texas Libraries began to collect these drawings in “The Architectural Drawings Collection”.
The “Architectural Drawings Collection” was renamed the “Alexander Architectural Archive” in 1998 after the Texas Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians launched a campaign to honor the archives founder and recognize Professor Alexander’s pioneering contribution to the preservation of our architectural history. Today, the archive contains over 200,000 drawings and over 61 linear feet of papers, photographic materials, models and ephemera representing projects from Texas and beyond. The archive and Professor Alexander’s efforts have been an invaluable resource for restoring some of Texas’ most important and beloved buildings.
The Architecture & Planning Library and the Alexander Architectural Archive are pleased to announce a new series of exhibits in the Battle Hall Reading room starting this October! Join us this upcoming Monday, October 13th at 6:00pm for our opening reception.
The “To Better Know a Building” series seeks to explore buildings through the drawings and other visual items found in the archive and library with focus on working drawings. Plans, elevations, and sections usually communicate the realization of design intent and can be used as a vehicle in teaching through example.
The first in the series will feature the Kimbell Art Museum by Louis Kahn. The Alexander Architectural Archive has the original construction drawings in the Preston Geren collection. Preston Geren was the associate architect for the Kimbell Museum. These pencil on paper drawings are a fine example of the art of construction drawings.
The next building featured will be chosen by a vote by students, faculty, and staff in the UT Austin School of Architecture from a list provided by the Alexander Architectural Archive.
Exhibit Opening & Remarks by Larry Speck – Monday, October 13, 6:00 p.m. October 13 – January 30
To Better Know a Building: Kimbell Art Museum
Architecture & Planning Library Battle Hall Reading Room
Austin’s Pizza will be provided while it lasts.
See below for the official exhibition flier. We can’t wait to see you there!
Join us for the annual Alexander Architectural Archive Open House which showcases drawings illustrating Modernism(s).
The open house is taking place August 27-29 from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Access to the archive is typically by appointment only but for the first three days of class we throw open the doors of the archive to welcome and inspire new and returning students.
The Archive is featuring hand drawn drawings, from sketches to polished presentation pieces, to motivate the student to get out and draw! See below for the official flier with additional details. We hope to see you there!
It’s one of our favorite times of the year once again: the arrival of both new students and familiar faces for the beginning of the fall semester! We’ve had a great summer here at the Architecture & Planning Library, but we always feel a little empty without students mulling about our stacks or studying in our Reading Room throughout all hours of the day.
To welcome new UTSOA students, the Architecture & Planning Library will be hosting an Open House tomorrow between key orientation presentations. Details are as follows:
What: Architecture & Planning Library Open House Where: Battle Hall – both the Library and Archive will be open for visits! When: Tuesday, August 26th from 5:00-6:00pm, between scheduled orientation sessions Why: To introduce you to your ultimate best friend in research for the next few years!
For incoming students planning on attending UTSOA’s orientation activities, you’ll notice that 5:00-6:00pm is directly between the mandatory orientation welcome and Dean Steiner’s back-to-school address at 6:15pm in the Jessen Auditorium. During that time, Dean’s Ambassadors will be offering tours of the Libraries and Resource Centers pertinent to life at the UTSOA. We invite you to stroll in at any time during that hour to explore both our stacks, Archive, and Reading Room. Did we mention we’ll have cool refreshments and warm cookies as a reprieve from the busy schedule of activites?!
Both new and returning students are happily welcomed. We can’t wait to see you there!
The Spring 2014 semester was an incredibly exciting one at the Architecture & Planning Library – especially for events! My personal favorite brought together multiple facets of the library and beyond: Emily Ardoin’s curation of the exhibition “Inside Modern Texas: the Case for Preserving Interiors.”
Beginning as a Graduate Research Assistant appointment in the Fall 2013 semester, Emily, a recent May 2014 Master of Science in Historic Preservation graduate, was tasked with the goal of pulling together an exhibition for the Architecture & Planning Library’s Reading Room that would be on display from early April through September 2014. This was no easy task, as she started completely from scratch! For inspiration on finding a topic, she sifted through myriad issues of Interiors magazine, Texas Architect, and more journals from the Architecture and Planning Library. Ultimately, Emily utilized her Interior Design background and Historic Preservation studies to create an exhibition topic that was specific enough to pin down a clear focus, yet broad enough to include a wide array of archival materials from the library and Alexander Architectural Archive.
The end result was “Inside Modern Texas: the Case for Preserving Interiors,” which aligned perfectly with the Society of Architectural Historian’s Annual Conference, held in Austin in April. We were lucky enough to go behind the scenes with Emily in the final weeks of her curation process. The exhibit’s opening reception on April 10th brought together conference visitors, library and archive employees, UT professors, students of myraid majors, and more.
Emily’s exhibition is a visual testiment to the incredible depth of resources available for researchers at the Architecture & Planning Library and the Alexander Architectural Archive, as well as the vital research endeavors that are created from endowments and scholarships. Says head librarian Beth Dodd:
“We are always looking for ways to enhance the student experience, and curating an exhibit is an incredibly rigorous process that demands thorough research, careful selection and interpretation of materials, and exhibit design,” says Dodd. “The endowment created by the late Professor Blake Alexander now enables us to offer our students this funded internship.”
Now, as we approach the official first day of summer, we want to remind you that “Inside Modern Texas” is on display in the Reading Room until September! We can’t think of a better way to beat the heat than to go on the beautiful visual journey that Emily has curated for us.
It’s official: The Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference is underway in our beloved Austin! Please visit here for a full listing of the conference’s events.
Because of the conference’s focus on architectural history, along with the opening of Emily Ardoin’s exhibit “Inside Modern Texas: A Case for Preserving Interiors,” we decided to delve into our archive’s bountiful resources to see if we could uncover material that was especially pertinent to the conference’s visit. The Alexander Architectural Archive holds the namesake of Drury Blakeley Alexander, architectural historian and Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas, who was an active member of the Society of Architectural Historians and believed wholly in the value of archival materials and research.
This fact was proven when Donna Coates, our Curatorial Assistant for Technical Services, informed me that Alexander’s collection included folders upon folders of saved Society of Architectural Historians conference materials. These folders contain invitations, programs, general correspondence, and more! I couldn’t believe that such a treasure is held within our very own Archive walls, provided by the namesake of the Archive itself. I also gained respect for low-grade hoarders; if I could high five Alexander for ensuring he retained nearly ALL of the materials of the conferences he attended, I totally would.
As I began sifting through the boxes that contained these folders, I became overwhelmed with the material. I also found myself simultaneously wishing that I could round up every interested individual in the Austin area and show them all of these wonderful treasures that Alexander had left for Archive users to potentially uncover and explore. As I grappled with the best way to present this material – ranging from the conference held 50 years ago, to showing snippets of material from every recent decade – I finally stumbled upon the folder I was looking for: the SAH Conference of 1978, which was held in nearby San Antonio.
This folder was so much fun to sift through, as it was full of correspondence between Alexander and professors from neighboring Texas universities. Alexander, for the 31st annual conference, wanted to bring together architectural history professors from across Texas and set up a collaborative session on Texas architecture – very similar to this year’s Austin Seminar. His dedicated effort to weaving a special Texas flair into the 31st Annual Conference was apparent, and, as evidenced by the official conference material from that year, certainly was not a fruitless effort. The conference featured several speakers presenting on topics relating to architecture in Texas, and he helped plan a day tour to Austin to unfurl the treasures that serve as some of the cornerstones of our great city.
Looking through these folders not only made me excited for this year’s Society of Architectural Historians Conference, but also reaffirmed how lucky we are to have such an incredible Architectural Archive as a resource for research and beyond. It is truly fitting that the namesake of the Archive contributed so greatly to the field of architectural history. Cheers to you, Blake Alexander!
Blog from the University of Texas Architecture and Planning Library