By DEBORAH DURHAM-VICHR
The launch of the Norton/Library of Congress Visual Sourcebooks series is one of many projects arising from the Library's new Center for Architecture, Design and Engineering. Other projects on the drawing board include exhibitions, scholarly programs and educational outreach.
The center was formally established in 2002 through a bequest from the distinguished American architect Paul Rudolph and the contributions of individuals, foundations and corporations.
Although based in the Prints and Photographs Division (P&P), the center's purpose is to draw attention and support to materials related to its subject matter wherever they may reside in the Library's collections, said C. Ford Peatross, the Library's curator of Architecture, Design and Engineering Collections, who proposed the center in 1991.
"The center is like a catalyst; it's a place to focus various activities. Like Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has said, it's a way to get the champagne out of the bottle, and to keep it cool, so that it's good for future generations.
"The Ground Zero design symposium [November 2002] proved the perfect moment to announce the creation of the center. As a result of the Rudolph bequest, a new trust fund had been set up to support the center, and we coordinated the announcement with a revised Web site on the Prints and Photographs home page describing the center's activities," Peatross said.
The center–while still in project form–proved its potential by participating in the inspiration and development of critically acclaimed exhibitions at the Library in the 1990s: "Temple of Liberty: Building the Capitol for a New Nation" in 1995; "Frank Lloyd Wright: Designs for an American Landscape, 1922-1932," which opened in June 1996; and "The "Work of Charles and Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention," which opened in 1999 and continues to travel, with the likelihood of future venues in the United States, Japan, Australia and Latin America, according to Peatross.
"These shows were intended to show what we could do [as a center] … their success is a credit to the Interpretive Programs Office," he said.
Contributions over the past decade, both large and small, nurtured the center's growth, such as a seed grant from the Library's private sector advisory body, the Madison Council, in 1992; a $20,000 grant from Chicago's Graham Foundation to assist with promotional materials in 1993; $1000 from the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record; and finally, a generous bequest from the distinguished American architect Paul Rudolph, who also gave the archives of his professional work to the Library, which allowed the center to come into being.
The center's possibilities seem endless, as the subjects of architecture, design and engineering run deep throughout the Library's superb holdings of master works, drawings, photographs, maps and print archives.
"Now we can concentrate more on achieving actual goals rather than only getting the center established," said Peatross.
For more information, see the center's Web site at www.loc.gov/rr/print/adecenter.
Deborah Durham-Vichr is a contract editor/writer in the Public Affairs Office.