"Edgar would have been so pleased to see the records of his life's work being treated with such care and dignity. We are thrilled that they will be available to scholars and others interested in his work over future generations. We can think of no better place than Avery Library to house the Edgar A. Tafel Archive," the Trustees, in making this bequest, stated.
A native New Yorker, Edgar Tafel was one of the first students to study architecture under Frank Lloyd Wright as an apprentice in the Taliesin Fellowship. He was one of three apprentices charged with designing and supervising the construction of Fallingwater, Wright's masterpiece for the Kaufmann family of Pittsburgh. He also worked on the Johnson Wax Headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin and Herbert F. Johnson's residence, Wingspread.
A prolific architect, Tafel is best known for his addition to the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York and his master plan for the State University of New York campus at Geneseo. In all, Tafel designed 80 houses, 35 churches and other religious buildings, and three college campuses.
"In addition to his architectural talents, Tafel was blessed with a vivacity of thought and expression that made his books and lectures popular and rewarding. Anyone studying Frank Lloyd Wright will be interested in seeing these papers," Janet Parks, curator of Drawings and Archives at the Avery Library, said.
Due to his close connection with Wright, Tafel was a well-known historian of Wright, authoring two books on the architect: Apprentice to Genius: Years with Frank Lloyd Wright (1979) and About Wright: An Album of Recollections by Those Who Knew Frank Lloyd Wright (1993). He lectured frequently on Wright and appeared in several documentaries on Fallingwater, notably Ken Love’s Fallingwater: The Apprentices (1996).
In addition to the research files on Wright, the archives contain more than 250 rolls of drawings for Tafel's own projects dating from the 1950s through the 1990s.