Architects : In Their Own Words : PART TWO

At Avery Library, when you study the work of an architect, the typical way to begin is by looking for books about them in CLIO and then articles in magazines. However, one of the most interesting ways to gain perspective on an architect and his or her work, is to find out what they have to say for themselves. Here we present six resources, in various formats, in which architects do just that – speak for themselves.

Pritzker Prize-winning Architects


The Pritzker Prize is architecture's most prestigious honor. In these “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” conversations, Pritzker laureates discuss their work and the significance of architecture in our daily lives. The collection features a brief retrospective and a conversation with the first Pritzker winner, Philip Johnson, on his 90th birthday. Other segments include conversations with architects Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, Ricardo Legorreta and Jacques Herzog.

Pritzker Prize-winning Architects [videorecording]
Princeton, NJ: Films for the Humanities & Sciences; Films Media Group, 2007.
(Butler Media Reserves DVD6951)

Max Abramovitz interviewed by George M. Goodwin


Abramovitz, the American architect who designed such prominent works as the United Nations Headquarters building and Philharmonic Hall (now Avery Fisher Hall) at Lincoln Center, discusses his family background, education, early career, clients, commissions and colleagues in this oral history. Conducted in 1993, it consists of two sound cassettes and a typescript summary.

This resource complements the Max Abramovitz Architectural Records and Papers Collection held in Avery's Drawings and Archives Department, which includes architectural drawings, photographs, correspondence, sketchbooks and financial records dating from 1926 to 1995.

Max Abramovitz interviewed by George M. Goodwin [sound recording] : March 31, 1993 in New York City.
(Avery Drawings & Archives AA685 Ab83 Ab83)

Conversations with Frank Gehry


Frank Gehry is generally considered today’s best-known architect, having designed such iconic and influential buildings as Guggenheim Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, among many others. This new book, edited from interviews that California-based writer Barbara Isenberg began with Gehry in the 1980s, covers topics from his upbringing in Toronto to his education at Harvard under the G.I. bill. We learn about his first buildings to current projects in Toronto, Abu Dhabai and elsewhere.

There is talk about the architectural politics of Los Angeles and the practical aspects of running a large architectural office. And while Gehry never name-drops, readers do get a sense of the celebrity and high-finance crowds in which he circulates. Gehry says he has always been more influenced by artists than by other architects, and those influences range from such friends as the late Robert Rauschenberg to the paintings of Vermeer and Hieronymus Bosch.

Isenberg, Barbara. Conversations with Frank Gehry.
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.
(Avery AA685 G274 Is25)

Chicago Architects Oral History Project


This website documents the contributions of architects to Chicago during the 20th century. The CAOHP, begun in 1983 under the auspices of the Art Institute of Chicago's Department of Architecture, records the life experiences of architects who shaped the physical environment in Chicago and surrounding communities. It was intended not only to fill an existing void in the literature but to go beyond the facts to explore motivations and influences, behind-the-scenes stories, and personal reflections.

This collection of oral histories contains comprehensive life-review documents as well as shorter, focused interviews. These narratives explore the development of Chicago's architecture and planning from the early 1900s to the present day. Some of the notable architects included are Tadao Ando, Harry Weese, Gordon Bunshaft, Stanley Tigerman and Paul Rudolph.

Chicago Architects Oral History Project. [electronic resource].
Chicago, Ill.: Art Institute of Chicago, 1997-
(Available on LibraryWeb via CLIO)

Bauhaus Reviewed 1919-1933


This is an audiobook CD that explores the seminal modernist Bauhaus school of art and architecture, which operated in Germany between 1919 and 1933.

The spoken word element centers on a revealing talk by Walter Gropius, the architect and theoretician who founded the Bauhaus in 1919. The CD also includes contributions from the school's third and final director, architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and the influential teacher and painter Josef Albers. All interviews are in English.

This unique CD also includes music. It features piano pieces written between 1919 and 1925 by six composers associated with the Bauhaus: Arnold Schoenberg, Josef Matthias Hauer, George Antheil, Stefan Wolpe and H.H. Stuckenschmidt.

Bauhaus Reviewed 1919-1933 [sound recording]
U.K.: LTM, 2007.
(Avery SOUNDISC AA656 B3 B347)

Why Do Architects Wear Black?

A small black book with no written text, Why do Architects Wear Black?, consists of reproductions of 100 contemporary architect’s, designer’s and draftsmen’s handwritten responses to editor Cordula Rau’s simple question.

Rau says “The sometimes amusing and other times programmatic or hair-splitting answers I have received over the last seven years are listed chronologically … Read, and please, don’t ask me why architects wear black!”

Rau, Cordula (ed.). Why do Architects Wear Black?
New York: Springer, 2009
(Avery AA2599 W63)

hild300 &quot;In order not to be seen at night...&quot;<br />Andreas Hild
thun300 &quot;No design is no colour is black&quot;<br />Matteo Thun