Architect and Critic Peter Blake's Archive Donated to Avery Library


NEW YORK, March 30, 2007 The archive of the important architect, critic, curator and editor Peter Blake (1920-2006) has been donated to Columbia University's Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. The announcement was made on March 22 at a public Memorial Event in Blake's honor held at Columbia's Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture. The donation was made jointly by the architect's son and daughter, Casey Nelson Blake and Christina Blake Oliver.

Peter Blake built in the U.S. and abroad. Among his most significant residential buildings are the Pin Wheel House in Water Mill, NY, and the Blake House in Bridghampton, NY. He was highly influential as an author, as curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art (1948-1950), and as an editor of the periodical Architectural Forum (1950-1972). His books include The Master Builders (1960); God's Own Junkyard (1964); Form Follows Fiasco (1977); and his memoir No Place Like Utopia (1993). Both his architectural and literary legacy are represented in the archive, supplementing a small group of materials donated by Blake himself in 1999.

"Peter Blake was one of the most articulate and knowledgeable architecture critics of the second half of the twentieth century, an important participant in the maturation of a modernist architecture culture in the United States, and close to most of the leading architectural practitioners of the postwar era. Columbia University is indeed fortunate to receive this donation of his papers," said Joan Ockman, Director of the Buell Center and a leading historian of twentieth century American architecture.

"I am delighted that our Drawings & Archives Department will have the privilege of making this important body of work available to researchers," added Gerald Beasley, Director of Avery Library, noting that it complemented a substantial body of Blake material already to be found at Avery, including the Architectural Forum archive, and the architect's many books and periodical articles still in high demand on the library's open shelves.

The Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library is one of the most comprehensive collections relating to architecture and the fine arts in the world. Avery collects a full range of primary and secondary sources for the advanced study of architecture, historic preservation, art history, decorative arts, city planning, real estate, and archeology. The Library contains more than 400,000 volumes, including 35,000 rare books, and receives approximately 1,000 periodicals. Avery’s Drawings and Archives collection includes well over one million architectural drawings and records. The Library is home to the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, an operating program of the Getty Research Institute, which is the only comprehensive American guide to the current literature of architecture and design.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/ is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.

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03/30/07 LMK