The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture Archive
The Archive’s mission is to record the School of Architecture’s pedagogy by documenting student work; to provide students with resources that augment and enhance their architectural education; and to produce informative public exhibitions and publications addressing architecture and design.
In 1970 John Hejduk and Roger Canon, AR’70, began documenting student work for the publication Education of An Architect: A Point of View, which coincided with an exhibition of the same name held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1971. Supported by a recommendation of the 1980 National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) Visiting Team, the Archive was established in 1983, and officially became a department of the School of Architecture in 1991. Kim Shkapich, A'80, was its first Director. Steven Hillyer, AR’90, is its current Director.
The Student Work Collection
The Student Work Collection is a photographic archive of student design projects dating from the 1930’s through the present. This material, which is the Architecture Archive’s core collection, documents over 4,000 student projects spanning more than eight decades of architectural pedagogy at The Cooper Union. Much of the collection’s material is design studio work documented for the exhibition and publication Education of an Architect: A Point of View (1971), and its second volume, Education of an Architect (1988). Since then the Architecture Archive has documented, on an annual basis, exemplary student projects selected by faculty for inclusion in the collection. Ongoing, annual project documentation includes images of process drawings, final presentation drawings, architectural models, and supplemental research and visual material.
Digital Access Project
The goals of this project are to: enhance intellectual control over the Collection’s records; enable online digital access to these records; and preserve them via archival rehousing. Project activities are proceeding in two phases over five years. Phase I (November 2016 – May 2019) addresses the Collection’s 30,000+ analog records dating from 1930-2006; Phase II (July 2019 – June 2021) and will focus on processing, cataloging for public access, and preserving ~32,000 of the Collection’s born-digital images and text collected from 2007-2018.
Data Sources and Cataloging Methods
The project author’s name, course, and academic year were recorded upon receiving a student’s submission. Students were also often asked to submit a project title, item order, caption list, and descriptive text. In these cases, title, caption, program, and problem data is sourced from student project documentation itself.
If a project author did not title his or her project, the project is listed with a no title abbreviation: N/T. If no item order was recorded, the project director arranges the images based on content. If a project lacks captions, the project manager generates them on an as needed basis. The project manager also defines architectural elements where applicable.
When project documentation includes a descriptive text and/or captions, the project manager assigns subject terms from The Library of Congress Subject Headings, The Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus and a custom internal vocabulary. If an author has supplied a text, but no abstract, an excerpt of the project text is sometimes recorded as an abstract.
Faculty information is gathered from course schedules, studio programs and grade sheets.
The process of compiling information for this database is ongoing, and at times augmented with additional content from project authors and faculty, both past and present.