Avery Library Acquires Norman Jaffe Archives

NEW YORK, December 18, 2008 Columbia’s Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library has acquired the architectural archives of Norman Jaffe (1932-1993), American architect perhaps best known for his strikingly sculptural beach houses on Eastern Long Island, New York.


Norman Jaffe, who studied architecture at UC Berkeley in California, built over 600 projects during his thirty-five year career. He received numerable architecture awards and also participated in national and international exhibitions at leading institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York. It was on Eastern Long Island that Jaffe created the weekend homes for which he was best known, works he compared to “melodic, dreamlike, romantic journeys.”

“The Jaffe papers document the work of an architect, who like Frank Lloyd Wright, believed domestic architecture stood at the very core of the American experience,” comments Alastair Gordon, author of a recent monograph on the architect. “For Jaffe, architecture was never a detached scientific process so much as a romantic journey.”

Jaffe, during a 26-year period of practice in the Hamptons—from 1967 until his drowning death in 1993— designed more than 50 houses in the region, ranging from small weekend hideaways to large summer estates straddling the ocean dunes. His other notable work on Long Island was the Gates of the Grove, the Jewish Center in East Hampton, a light-filled meditative space inspired by the wooden synagogues of Eastern Europe. His final major work, 565 Fifth Avenue, was a critical success.

The Norman Jaffe collection contains architectural drawings, photographs, business profiles, and office portfolios. A large portion of the collection consists of presentation drawings, architectural drawings and photographs from his professional practice. It covers eighty-some built and unrealized projects ranging from the early 1960s to the 1990s. When organized and processed, the collection will be available for research. For more information, please contact Janet Parks at jsp1@columbia.edu.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 25 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries at www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb is the gateway to its services and resources.

The Avery Architectural & 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 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.