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Harvey Wiley Corbett architectural drawings and papers, circa 1914-1949

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Preferred Citation

Harvey Wiley Corbett architectural drawings and papers, circa 1914-1949, Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information

Abstract

Harvey Wiley Corbett (1873-1954) was an American architect primarily active in New York City but also completed projects across the United States and in London. While known for his work on early skyscraper architecture, his work also includes banks, churches, educational campuses, government buildings, housing projects, and large memorial projects like the George Washington Masonic National Memorial (Alexandria, VA). His most well-known projects include Rockefeller Center (Corbett served as a senior architect on the project), the Criminal Courts Building (Centre Street, NY), and Bush Tower (East 42nd Street, NY). Alongside his prolific career, Corbett was also engaged in the theoretical elements of the evolving American city. This can been seen through his commissioning of Hugh Ferriss for the creation of the set of drawings now known as the “Metropolis of Tomorrow,” which questioned the results of the contemporary zoning laws of New York City. This collection reflects the breadth of Corbett’s work and interests and while it primarily consists of photographs of his many projects, the collection also encompasses a small portion of professional papers and reference material. Beyond the bulk of photographs, there are drawings, correspondence, notes, clippings, postcards, daily calendar entries, a portfolio, photo albums, publications, and financial and legal records.

At a Glance

CLIO record: View CLIO record
Creator(s):Corbett, Harvey Wiley, 1873-1954.
Title:Harvey Wiley Corbett architectural drawings and papers, circa 1914-1949
Physical description:1,786 items.
Language(s):In English
Access: This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For further information and to make an appointment, please call (212) 854-4110 or email avery-drawings@libraries.columbia.edu.  More information »

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is made up of three series:

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Description

Scope and Content

This collection consists primarily of photographs of various projects throughout the lifetime of Harvey Wiley Corbett. The collection also contains drawings of First Methodist Church (Jamaica, Queens, NY) and the Church of the Good Shepherd (Brooklyn, NY), as well as professional records, portraits, reference material, receipts, legal agreements, financial documents, clippings, and daily diary cards. The dates of the material span 1900 to 1952, with bulk dates of 1925-1948.

While the collection is sorted largely by project, it is important to note that not all work is solely that of Harvey Wiley Corbett. Many projects appear to have been collected by him as reference material, while others may have been completed in conjunction with Corbett. As this remains unclear in many cases, the attribution, if any, has been noted under “creators” within the scope note for each entry.

Series I: Projects

This series contains the bulk of the collection and consists primarily of photographs of the interiors, exteriors, models, and construction of individual projects. These entries are arranged alphabetically by project name.

As noted above, not all projects are the work of Corbett, and where the work is attributed to another architect or firm, the entry reflects that information. Additionally, projects clearly credited to one of Corbett’s firms have also been noted. While entries consist primarily of photographs, occasional clippings and notes are included. Photographs of drawings are also included within these project records, but are generally infrequent.

Series II: Professional Projects

This series houses the few professional papers that survive in Corbett’s records. The bulk of the material relates to the financial and legal agreements surrounding Rockefeller Center, but also includes some correspondence regarding the development of that project. In addition, portraits of Corbett, a portfolio of Harvey Wiley Corbett Associates, limited correspondence with other architects, and his daily diary cards are among the material included in this series.

Series III: Research

This series contains the more miscellaneous material of the collection, and includes a variety of photographs of well-known contemporary buildings, publications and clippings relating to architecture, and photographs of art, sculpture, and stained glass that may have been used as reference material. These records are arranged chronologically, with undated material at the end.

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Using the Collection

Access Restrictions

This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For further information and to make an appointment, please call (212) 854-4110 or email avery-drawings@libraries.columbia.edu.

Restrictions on Use

Columbia University is providing access to the materials in the Library's collections solely for noncommercial educational and research purposes. The unauthorized use, including, but not limited to, publication of the materials without the prior written permission of Columbia University is strictly prohibited. All inquiries regarding permission to publish should be submitted in writing to the Director, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For additional guidance, see Columbia University Libraries' publication policy.

In addition to permission from Columbia University, permission of the copyright owner (if not Columbia University) and/or any holder of other rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) may also be required for reproduction, publication, distributions, and other uses. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of any item and securing any necessary permissions rests with the persons desiring to publish the item. Columbia University makes no warranties as to the accuracy of the materials or their fitness for a particular purpose.

Preferred Citation

Harvey Wiley Corbett architectural drawings and papers, circa 1914-1949, Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

For Further Information

For more information about using the collections and conducting research in the Department of Drawings & Archives, please see our FAQ.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Avery Architecture and Fine Arts Library. Department of Drawings and Archives; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Barrett Reiter (Graduate Intern) under the supervision of Shelley Hayreh, Avery Archivist, in 2015.

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion June 25, 2009 Finding aid written in English.
    2009-06-25 File created.

CLIO ID: 3460554 View CLIO record

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Index Terms

The names and terms listed below are represented in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a consortial/union catalog offered by OCLC that allows users to search the holdings of multiple archives and libraries.

All links open new windows.

Subjects (Personal Names)

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Atterbury, Grosvenor.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Baker, Bryant, 1881-1970.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ferriss, Hugh, 1889-1962.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Harrison, Wallace K. (Wallace Kirkman), 1895-1981.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Oltar-Jevsky, W. K. (Wiacheslav K.), 1880-1966PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Subjects (Corporate Names)

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Church of the Good Shepherd (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Bush House (London, England)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Bush Building (New York, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Criminal Courts Building (New York, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Master Apartments building (New York, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
New York Hall of Justice (New York, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Rockefeller Center.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
George Washington National Masonic Temple Memorial.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Century of Progress International Exposition (1933-1934 :--Chicago, Ill.)--Buildings.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Century of Progress International Exposition (1933-1934 :--Chicago, Ill.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Subjects (Topics)

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Future cities.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architecture.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Dwellings--England--London.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Courthouses--New York (State)--New York.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Public buildings--New York (State)--New York.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Church buildings--New York (State)--New York.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Exhibitions--Illinois--Chicago.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Exhibition buildings--Illinois--Chicago.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Subject (Occupation)

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Architects.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Additional Creator

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Harvey Wiley Corbett Associates.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

History

Harvey Wiley Corbett (1873-1954) was an American architect who was an active proponent of the early skyscraper. Although, following World War II, Corbett would express concern over the safety of high density in skyscrapers, for the majority of his career he was an important voice in imagining the future of the American city. Corbett also played a key role in the creation of a series of drawings by Hugh Ferriss for “Future City,” or what is now known as “The Metropolis of Tomorrow,” that theorized on the ramifications of the contemporary zoning laws of New York City.

Born in San Francisco, California and educated in mechanical engineering at University of California Berkeley, Corbett also trained at the Ecole de Beaux Arts before relocating to New York City in 1900. After working briefly in the office of Cass Gilbert, Corbett entered into a number of partnerships over the next forty years. Among these are Pell & Corbett (established 1903), Helmle & Corbett (established 1912), Corbett, Harrison & MacMurray (established 1922), and Corbett & MacMurray (established 1935). In 1941, Corbett created Harvey Wiley Corbett Associates, which worked in association with a team of other architects, planners, and engineering firms, including Edward Durrell Stone and Clarke & Rapuano, among others.

Corbett completed a large number of structures in New York City, but also designed projects in California, Virginia, and London. Among his most significant works are Rockefeller Center (a project on which he was a senior architect), Bush Tower (West 42nd Street, New York City), the Municipal Group (Springfield, Massachusetts), the Criminal Courts Building (Centre Street, New York City), the Amsterdam Housing Project (New York City), the George Washington Masonic National Memorial (Alexandria, Virginia), and the Metropolitan Life Insurance “North Building” (Madison and East 24th Street, New York City).

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