Avery Library’s Guastavino Archive on Exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York
NEW YORK, March 26, 2014 –

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services’ (CUL/IS) Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library is pleased to announced the opening of Palaces for the People: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY), March 26 – September 7, 2014.  The exhibition will showcase materials and drawings from Avery’s archives, along with a replica of a Guastavino vault, contemporary photographs by Michael Freeman and a video installation that enables viewers to “visit” Guastavino spaces in the gallery.  


According to MCNY’s description, “Throughout the five boroughs are more than 200 long-overlooked marvels of engineering and architectural beauty—the interlocking tile vaults built by Spanish immigrants Rafael Guastavino, Sr. (1842-1908), and his son, Rafael Jr. (1872-1950). The system of structural tile vaults developed by the Guastavinos—lightweight, fireproof, low-maintenance, and capable of supporting significant loads—was used by leading architects of the day, including McKim, Mead & White and Carrere &Hastings. Ellis Island’s Registry Room, Carnegie Hall, the Bronx Zoo’s Elephant House, and Grand Central Terminal all contain Guastavino vaults.”

Palaces for the People was originally organized by MIT’s John Ochsendorf for exhibition at Boston Public Library and the National Building Museum in Washington.  Co-curator Janet Parks (Curator of Drawings & Archives at Avery Library) has selected works from the Guastavino Fireproof Construction Company Archives for each venue,  substantially expanding this presentation at the Museum of the City of New York to include some 20 key Guastavino spaces in the five boroughs. Among them, buildings on and around the Columbia campus: St. Paul’s Chapel, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and Riverside Church.

Avery Library will present a public lecture in conjunction with the exhibition at Columbia University, Guastavino’s Palaces for the People: From Archive to Exhibition on Friday, April 11 at 12pm in 523 Butler Library.  Speakers include John Ochsendorf, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Architecture, MIT; Janet Parks, Curator of Drawings & Archives, Avery Library, Columbia University, Chrysanthe B. Broikos, curator, the National Building Museum, Washington, D.C. and Daniel Fouad, exhibition designer, C&G Partners.  Please visit the Avery Library website for more information.

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 archaeology. The Library contains more than 600,000 volumes, including 40,000 rare books, and approximately 2,300 serials. Avery’s Drawings and Archives collection includes more than 2 million architectural drawings and records. For more information, please visit the Avery website.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services (CUL/IS) is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 12 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers, including affiliates. CUL/IS employs more than 450 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.

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AM 3-26-14