The Division’s collections related to architecture and city planning stem from Cornell’s commitment to professional education in architecture, which was made by its first president Andrew Dickson White. Our architecture rare book collection has grown from White’s personal collection to include thousands of volumes documenting architectural history and theory from Vitruvius to the Bauhaus.
Since the mid-1960s, the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections has been actively acquiring the papers of city planners, architects, and landscape architects. In total, we hold nearly 300 collections related to architecture and planning. The collections consists of correspondence, diaries, lectures, maps, project reports, working drawings, plans, photographs, postcards, and glass slides, providing a rich and well-rounded picture of design theory, practice, and teaching.
Our collection is particularly strong in documenting early twentieth century planning in the United States, including the papers of John Nolen, Clarence Stein, and many of their contemporaries. These archival collections frame major issues in planning, recording the evolution of the ideas and movements that emerged with the first generations of planners. These include garden cities, new towns in the United States, zoning, regional planning, New Deal Greenbelt communities, housing legislation, and progressive planning.
In addition, our holdings include the papers of a broad range of architects and landscape architects, including, for example, the papers of landscape architect Ellen Shipman and materials related to the international architecture firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill. Complementing the papers of individuals and firms are the records of a number of associations devoted to urban and regional planning such as the Regional Plan Association and the American Planning Association.
Images from some of our architecture collections are available online in subject-specific digital collections, which are listed in the Related Online Resources section below. In addition, please visit our general digital collection, Images from Cornell’s Rare Book and Manuscript Collections, or view our other digital collections. Researchers might also be interested in our collections related to photography, as well as those which include moving image and sound recordings.
Access to Cornell University building plans and drawings is managed by Cornell’s Facilities and Campus Services – Archiving Services. Please follow the directions on their web site to arrange for access to these materials.
Funding for Research
Several funding opportunities are available for researchers using the architecture and planning collections in RMC:
Related Online Resources
- 125 Years of Achievement: The History of Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
- Andrew D. White Architectural Photographs Collection
- Gravely Gorgeous: Gargoyles, Grotesques and the Nineteenth-Century Imagination
- Prescriptions for Urban Ailments: Planning Solutions of the 1920s-1940s
- Urban Explorer: The John Reps Travel Photographs
- Overview of digital collections in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections