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Serge Chermayeff architectural records and papers, 1909-1980 1930s-1970s

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Preferred Citation

Serge Ivan Chermayeff architectural records and papers. Located in the Dept. of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

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

Summary Information

At a Glance

Avery ID:D&A Chermayeff View CLIO record
Creator(s):Chermayeff, Serge, 1900-1996.
Title:Serge Chermayeff architectural records and papers, 1909-1980 1930s-1970s
Physical description:17 linear feet of papers, 1,508 photographs, 915 drawings (38 manuscript boxes, 35 rolls, 6 portfolio boxes, 2 flatfile drawers, and 2 film reel boxes)
Language(s): In English.
Access: This collection is available for use by qualified readers by appointment in the Archives and Drawings' Reading Room, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University. Collections maintained in off-site storage will be retrieved with advance notification only; for further details, please consult the Drawings & Archives staff. For further information and to make an appointment, please call (212) 854-4110.  More information »
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection:Correspondence, typescript papers, carbon typescript papers, holograph papers, printed papers, photographic prints, film negatives, photographic transparencies, architectural reprographic prints, mixed media drawings, VHS videocassette, 35mm film, maps.

Arrangement

Arrangement

This material is arranged in fourteen series: Personal Papers; Correspondence; Project Records; Professional Papers; Faculty Papers, Académie Européenne; Faculty Papers, Brooklyn College; Faculty Papers, Institute of Design; Faculty Papers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Faculty Papers, Harvard University; Faculty Papers, Washington University; Faculty Papers, Yale University; Community and Privacy ; Shape of Community ; and Design and the Public Good .

The arrangement of materials within each series is described at the beginning of each series inventory.

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Description

Scope and Content

This collection contains materials related to Chermayeff's personal, professional, and academic lives, the bulk originating during his residency in the United States, beginning in the late 1930s. Project records document the full range of his work, including many records from his British period. The collection also contains extensive correspondence with personal friends, clients, and professional and academic colleagues.

The archive also contains significant papers and images related to publication of The Shape of Community , Community and Privacy, and Design and the Public Good, including manuscripts, images, and some production records.

Lastly, the collection contains a large number of reference files relating to architecture, design, urbanism, technology, sociology, anthropology, and current events, compiled throughout Chermayeff's professional life.

Abbreviations used in the item inventory: SC=Serge Chermayeff.

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Using the Collection

Access Restrictions

 This collection is available for use by qualified readers by appointment in the Archives and Drawings' Reading Room, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University. Collections maintained in off-site storage will be retrieved with advance notification only; for further details, please consult the Drawings & Archives staff. For further information and to make an appointment, please call (212) 854-4110.

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

Serge Ivan Chermayeff architectural records and papers. Located in the Dept. of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

Related Material

A small collection of Richard Plunz's academic papers is also held in the Dept. of Drawings & Archives at Avery Library. For additional information, please consult the staff.

Selected Bibliography

Plunz, Richard, ed. Design and the Public Good: Selected Writing, 1930-1980, by Serge Chermayeff. Cambridge, Mass. and London, England: The MIT Press, 1982

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

Finding aid written by Annemarie van Roessel, Archivist, Dept. of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Annemarie van Roessel, Mellon Project Archivist, Dept. of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, in 2005.

EAD instance generated by Annemarie van Roessel from Access database source and MARC-AMC source April 4, 2006. Finding aid written in English.
    2006-04-06 File created.
    2009-12-08 File revised.

CLIO ID: 3464750 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
Chermayeff, Serge, 1900-.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Le Corbusier, 1887-1965.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Mendelsohn, Erich, 1887-1953.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Subjects (Buildings and Institutions)

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Bentley Wood (Sussex, England)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Brooklyn College.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
De La Warr Pavilion.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Gilbey House (London, England)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Hamyln House (London, England)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Harvard University. --Graduate School of Design.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Institute of Design (Chicago, Ill.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Weingarten Brothers Showrooms (London, England)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Yale University. --School of Art and Architecture.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Topics

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Apartment houses--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architects --United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architects --United States --Correspondence.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architects--Great Britain--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architecture --Great Britain --20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architecture --Massachusetts --Cape Cod.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architecture, Modern --20th century --United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architecture --India --20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architecture Study and teachingPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Brooklyn CollegePortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cape Cod National Seashore (Mass.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Country houses --Architects' --England --Sussex --Bentley Wood (Chermayeff house).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Exhibition --England --London.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Furniture --Tubular steel --20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Harvard University. Graduate School of Design.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Houses --England --London --Hamlyn house (Cohen house)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Houses --20th century --England.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Houses --20th century --United States --California.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Houses --20th century --United States --Maine.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Industrial designers United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Institute of Design (Chicago, Ill.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
International style (Architecture)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Laboratories --England --Manchester.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
London (England). Weingarten Brothers Showrooms.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
National parks and reserves Law and legislation Massachusetts.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Newspaper offices --United States --Orleans (Massachusetts).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Office buildings --England --London --Camden Town --Gilbey House.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Pavilions --20th century --England --Bexhill --De La Warr Pavilion.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Showrooms --Interior design --England --London --Regent Street.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Urban planningPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Weekend houses --Architects' --United States --Wellfleet (Massachusetts) --Chermayeff house.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Yale University. School of Art and Architecture PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Additional Creators (Personal Names)

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Alexander, ChristopherPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Blake, Peter, 1920-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Born, Ernest, 1898-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Breuer, Marcel, 1902-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Chermayeff, IvanPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Church, Thomas DolliverPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Coates, Wells, 1895-1958.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cutting, HaywardPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Fuller, R. Buckminster (Richard Buckminster), 1895-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Giedion, S. (Sigfried), 1888-1968PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Gropius, Ise.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Eckbo, Garrett, 1910-2000.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Gideonse, Harry David, 1901-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Gropius Walter 1883 1969.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Kepes, Gyorgy, 1906-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Mendelsohn, Erich, 1887-1953.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Plunz, Richard.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Rudolph, Paul, 1918-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Sert, José Luis, 1902-1983.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Sekler, Eduard F. (Eduard Franz)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Tyrwhitt, Jaqueline.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Tzonis, Alexander.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Wachsmann, Konrad, 1901-1980.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Wurster, William Wilson.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Additional Creators (Corporate Names)

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Baldwin Kingrey (Firm)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
International Congress For Modern ArchitecturePortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ketchum, Gina and Sharp.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Practical Equipment Ltd.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Royal Institute of British ArchitectsPortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Additional Titles

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Design and the public good : selected writings, 1930-1980.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Community and privacy : toward a new architecture of humanismPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Shape of community: realization of human potentialPortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Serge Ivan Chermayeff was born on October 8, 1900 near Grozny in the Chechen region of the Northern Caucasus. Chermayeff attended secondary school in England. He began his career as an interior designer for the London firm of Waring & Gillow, creating streamlined modern interiors for various residential and commercial clients. In 1931 he formed his own architectural office and was joined in 1933 by German émigré Erich Mendelsohn, with whom he designed several notable projects in and around London and Southern England, including the De La Warr Pavilion (1934-1935), the R. J. Nimmo residence (1935), and the Dennis Cohen residence (1936), each a notable example of International Style design. Although his partnership with Mendelsohn ended in 1936, both men remained friends for many years. Among Chermayeff’s most important designs during this period was that for his own residence, Bentley Wood (1937-1938), in East Sussex, England. A controversial laboratory for his ideas about public and private spaces and modern aesthetics, it received considerable attention from the architectural press. It led, however, to financial difficulties and Chermayeff was forced to sell in 1939, barely a year after completion.

In 1940, Chermayeff immigrated to the United States, settling briefly in San Francisco, California, to collaborate with local architects on several residential and commercial projects, including the Clarence Mayhew residence (1942) and the Walter Horn residence (1942). Chermayeff soon moved to New York City to become professor of art at Brooklyn College, a position he held until Walter Gropius recommended him in 1946 to serve as president of the Institute of Design in Chicago following László Moholy-Nagy's death. Chermayeff left Chicago in 1951 after the Institute of Design merged with the Illinois Institute of Technology. Teaching briefly at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chermayeff joined the faculty at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard in 1953, where he was instrumental in developing a rigorous curriculum for urban design and planning and in organizing symposia and collaborative projects around issues of contemporary urbanism. During this period, Chermayeff also maintained a small private architecture practice with Hayward Cutting. In 1962, Chermayeff accepted a position at Yale’s School of Architecture, where he continued his research and teaching in areas of human interactions with city planning and architecture.

With co-author Christopher Alexander, Chermayeff published Community and Privacy: Toward a New Architecture of Humanism (Garden City, N. Y., Doubleday, 1963), and with co-author Alexander Tzonis he published Shape of Community: Realization of Human Potential (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971), both idiosyncratic but widely considered studies of how human biological and social needs intersect with the built environment. Chermayeff’s selected lectures and writings were published in Design and the Public Good , in 1982, which was edited by Richard Plunz, professor in the School of Architecture at Columbia University. A frequent speaker, guest critic, and prolific writer, Chermayeff was also active in numerous professional organizations, including CIAM, MARS, and the American Society of Architects and Planners, and was awarded honorary degrees from several colleges and universities. In addition, he was a life-long artist, industrial designer, and poet, exhibiting at galleries in Chicago and Boston and self-publishing several anthologies of his poetry.

Throughout his years in the United States, Chermayeff also sustained close ties to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, maintaining a home and studio near Wellfleet, designing experimental architecture for several clients in the area, and advocating for the establishment of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Chermayeff died in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, in 1996.

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