Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Drawing of a building. Click to enlarge.

Sir Reginald Blomfield, View of the back of the Hotel de Boque, Dijon, date unknown.
Weinreb Collection.


Among its rare volumes and drawings, the Ben Weinreb Collection contains Leon Battista Alberti's (1404-1472) De re aedificatoria (1485), the first printed work on the subject of architecture, early editions of Vitruvius (c. 90-20 BCE) and Palladio (1508-1580), and other Continental and English architectural volumes from the fifteenth through the twentieth centuries. Supplementary items on American architecture, such as Abraham Swan's (1730-1765) The British Architect (1775), the first book on the subject published in this country, may be found in the Charles B. Good Collection.

Complementing the Center's book holdings, the Weinreb Collection of Architectural Drawings contains plans and renderings dating from seventeenth-century England, France, and Italy, through the work of Sir Charles Barry (1795-1860) and Sir William Tite(1798-1873), and into the 1930s. Included in the collection are original drawings of historic sites in Europe, Pompeiian ruins and amphitheatres, interior designs by William Morris & Co., and plans and elevations for some of Britain's greatest buildings, as well as notebooks by architect and garden designer Sir Reginald Blomfield (1856-1942). Also available are a large number of original Todd Webb (1905-1999) architectural photographs, which document early buildings from around the state as part of the Texas Architectural Survey initiated by the Amon Carter Museum in the 1960s. A larger collection of architectural drawings (including some transferred from the Ransom Center) may be found at the Alexander Architectural Archive.

In the area of modern architecture, the Center owns several rare works of Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), such as the two-folio Ausgeführte Bauten und Entwürfe (1910-11), also known as the Wasmuth folios, which had a fundamental influence on the emerging modernist avant garde of European architecture and became one of the most important publications of the twentieth century.

Highlights of a small collection of materials by Swiss architect Le Corbusier (1887-1965) include two color lithographs from the 1930s, a holograph manuscript with six pen-and-ink drawings pertaining to Rome, as well as letters to his publisher and eighteen pencil sketches for Destin de Paris.

The enormous archive of theater and industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes (1893-1958), famous for his use of streamlining, contains his business records as well as drawings and models for such major projects as the "Futurama" exhibition of the 1939 World's Fair. Bel Geddes, who explored the aesthetics of aerodynamics in his work, patented designs for streamlined automobiles and locomotives. He also published pictures of house models he called "The Home of Tomorrow" in Ladies Home Journal, which proved to influence the design of all aspects of the home, from toaster to façade. (See also Performing Arts.)