Dream, Design, Build: The UW Architecture Student Drawing Collection, 1914-1947

Dream, Design, Build: The UW Architecture Student Drawing Collection, 1914-1947

Conserving the drawings - A New Home for the Architecture Archive

Original Housing
Professor Jeffrey Ochsner showing original student
drawings in Architecture Hall.

For decades, the architecture student drawing archive was housed within Architecture Hall, in an inside utility room. There was limited access for researchers, and the environmental conditions for the drawings were somewhat problematic in terms of temperature and cleanliness. In 2004, as plans were being made for the complete renovation of Architecture Hall, Professor Jeffrey Ochsner proposed the transfer of part of the collection to the Libraries' Special Collections. The intent was to assure the long-term survival and accessibility of the collection for research. An agreement was reached between the Department of Architecture and the Libraries Special Collections to transfer roughly 1100 drawings, including all surviving student projects from 1914 to 1947 and watercolor projects on paper from 1947 to 1960. Drawings from the years after 1947 (primarily drawings on illustration board for the years 1947-1980) are still housed in the renovated Architecture Hall.

In 2005-2006, the selected drawings were carefully transferred by hand to the Libraries, in groupings sorted by chronology and size. They range from tiny sketches and 16" x 20" drawing exercises up to the giant 40" x 60" senior design projects, of which there are about 135. Jeffrey Ochsner provided a preliminary inventory of the drawings and their identification, organized by year and academic quarter. The transfer of the drawings began the very large task of addressing the physical needs of the drawings, and how they would eventually be made usable to researchers. This project has been an ongoing collaboration among Special Collections conservation and curatorial staff members, with input from the department of Architecture.

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