Avery Drawings & Archives Collections

Oscar Newman papers, 1959-1998

Summary Information


Oscar Newman (1935-2004) was an architect, planner, and theorist. Newman was best known for his theories on crime prevention and residential design, which he introduced in his book Defensible Space. This collection contains the majority of Newman's projects and writings spanning from the early 1960s to the late 1990s. It consists of textual materials in the form of correspondence, notes, written and typed drafts, and publications; accompanied by prints, negatives, slides, drawings, and audio/visual material.

At a Glance

Bib ID 12473221 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Newman, Oscar
Title Oscar Newman papers, 1959-1998
Physical Description 19 document boxes; 1 manuscript box; 5 print boxes; 15 folders ((flat-file))
Language(s) English .

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 email avery-drawings@library.columbia.edu.

All original copies of audio / moving image media are closed until reformatting in 2020.



This collection is made up of 15 series: Series I: Defensible Space, Series II: Community of Interest, Series III: Integration = Intervention, Series IV: Yonkers, Series V: Projects, Series VI: Drawings, Series VII: Slides, Series VIII: A/V Material, Series IX: Film & TV, Series X: Publications, Series XI: Conferences, Series XII: Professional Papers, Series XIII: Faculty Papers, Series XIV: Research Material, and Series XV: Personal Papers.


Scope and Content

This collection is primarily textual, comprising research and theory in the form of correspondence, notes, written and typed drafts, and publications. These textual materials are accompanied by prints, negatives, slides, drawings, and audio/visual material.

The first two series are dedicated to Newman's two major publications: Defensible Space and Community of Interest. Series III & IV are dedicated to two projects that represent a substantial amount of material, which Newman worked on for years: Integration = Intervention, which follows the Starrett City court case on housing integration, and Yonkers, where Newman implemented a Federal Housing Remedy Order in the Yonkers Housing Discrimination Case. Other projects are separated into the fifth series, which stretches from Newman's work in the 1960s to 1990s. Slides, A/V Material, and Drawings not associated with a specific project are separated out into their own series respectively. Newman's' writings, work related to film and television, and conference materials comprise Series IX-XI. His professional papers, faculty papers, and personal papers also each compose their own series. Series XIV: Research Material contains data, imagery, and reference material collected by Newman.

[Note: Newman's work is not separated between the Institute for Community Design Analysis and his firm Oscar Newman & Associates, as the separation of work and responsibilities between the two entities is undefined.]

Series I: Defensible Space

This series contains materials relating to the research, writing, publication, & reception of Defensible Space (1972). This includes research material, drafts, guidelines, presentations, negatives, diagrams, Newman's contract with MacMillan, requests for copies of the book, articles & reviews (arranged chronologically) and "The Defensible Space Game." This series also includes a copy of both the United States and United Kingdom editions of the book.

Series II: Community of Interest

This series is primarily made up of Newman's drafts and edits of his book Community of Interest (1980). It also includes prints of housing types, Newman's contract with Doubleday Publication, reviews of the book, and a copy of the book.

Series III: Starrett City: Integration = Intervention

This series encompasses Newman's involvement with the Starrett City court case of the 1980s, and his subsequent writings on the subject. It includes Newman and the ICDA's research, data, and analysis, on New York City public housing, especially Starrett City and Lefrak City, as related to racial integration. It includes negatives & prints, correspondence, interviews, court documents such as depositions and Newman's expert testimony, press clippings, reference material, lectures, and essays. It also includes notes and drafts for the publication Integration = Intervention: The Use of Occupancy Controls at Starrett City, New York (1983), and one bound copy of the publication.

Series IV: Yonkers

This series contains materials related to the federal case on segregation in Yonker's public housing in the late 1980s-early 1990s. Newman served as the Court Appointed Outside Housing Advisor on the case, and planned new housing ordered by the court, also preparing the "Long Term Housing Plan for the City of Yonkers" (which is included in this series). Materials in this series include: correspondence, journals, press clippings, court documents, reference material, negatives & prints, site plans and floor plans. Also included are Newman's work advising on candidates for the Executive Director of the City of Yonkers Office of Housing Implementation and Fair Housing, and information regarding Newman's departure from the case in 1994.

Series V: Projects

This series contains materials for Newman's projects from the early 1960s to 1990s. The projects are research, architectural, or planning based. Many of Newman's projects resulted in or included a publication; publications included in this collection are noted. Materials are arranged chronologically by project. See description of projects below*.

Series VI: Drawings

This series is arranged according to size. Box 19 includes "Immediate Measures Drawings" and unidentified diagrams, plans, and illustrations. Figures and illustrations used in Community of Interest, are housed in Box 21 & 22, arranged by chapter, and also include unidentified illustrations related to those used in Community of Interest [Newman used many of these illustrations in other publications].

Boxes 26 & 27 house drawings over 11" x 17". These include illustrations for publications, storyboarding/page layouts, drawings of security & hardware elements, campus diagrams, site drawings for Great Neck, NY, and drawings for the Landmark on Main Street in Port Washington, NY. Also included are illustrations for Newman's novel Unmasking a King.

Drawings over 17" x 21" are housed in flat-file drawer. These consist of an unidentified project from the firm of Van Den Broek & Bakema, the Huigenbos Improvement Project, drawings by T. Ikari?, "R&M" Site Plans, a perspective drawing of Douglas Boulevard in Chicago, drawings of play equipment designs, drawings of a prototypical city block, a floor plan for "Tequesta Creek", floor plans for the offices of Oscar Newman, and unidentified drawings.

Series VII: Slides

This series contains Newman's slide library, and has been maintained in Newman's original groupings and ordering. It includes images of project sites, drawings, & models; images from Newman's travels; and reference images of architectural and planning precedents.

Series VIII: A/V Material

The VHS tapes include news stories and programs related to Newman's Defensible Space concept, the Yonkers case, and the Starrett City case on integration. The microcassettes and cassettes include information and interviews related to the Starrett City case, Lefrak City, and the Chicago Housing Authority. The floppy discs include office information, information on Starrett City, Yonkers, TV Scripts, and contracts. The CD's consist of software. The 16mm reels are copies of the 1974 Horizon Documentary featuring Newman: The Writing on the Wall [video can be found on YouTube], and the film No Place to Rest His Head.

Series VIX: Film & TV

This series contains materials regarding Newman's work in television and film, including correspondence, outlines, notes, proposals, scripts/screenplays, and posters; arranged chronologically.

Series X: Publications

This series contains articles, lectures, book reviews, and proposals for books & studies written by Newman, including notes and correspondence regarding publication. It is arranged chronologically.

Series XI: Conferences

This series contains materials from conferences Newman attended or was requested to attend. The material includes correspondence, agendas/programs, transcripts, notes, and Newman's writings to be presented. It is arranged chronologically by conference.

Series XII: Professional Papers

This series contains materials related to the offices of Oscar Newman & Associates and the Institute for Community Design Analysis (ICDA), formerly known as the Center for Residential Security Design (CRSD). It includes correspondence, examples of Oscar Newman & Associates' work, Resumes/CVs, professional membership information, copyright information, manuals, weekly planners, and press clippings regarding Newman (arranged chronologically). It also includes the Institute for Community Design Analysis' contracts, tax files, financial reports, charter bylaws, as well as information regarding the ICDA's name change and its right to practice architecture.

Series XIII: Faculty Papers

This series includes materials from Newman's time teaching at Nova Scotia Technical College in Halifax (now Dalhousie University), Washington University in St. Louis, Columbia University in New York, and New York University. It includes slides for Newman's Urban Theory courses, correspondence, syllabi, course notes, course readings, lectures, and student papers.

Series XIV: Research Material

This series includes materials regarding cities and planning; architectural precedents; crime statistics; data, statistics, and photographs of housing projects; and prints and negatives from Newman's travels including trips to Europe and Puerto Rico. The materials in this series comprise research done by Newman and reference materials by other authors.

Series XV: Personal Papers

This series contains personal correspondence, photos & negatives, Newman's short stories, information regarding his non-architectural publications (Unmasking a King and Secret Stories in the Art of the Northwest Indian), and material regarding his totem carving and painting.


*Projects represented in Series V: Projects

+ New Frontiers in Architecture or CIAM '59 in Otterlo (1961): Newman wrote this book on the proceedings at CIAM 1959 at the request of Jacob B. Bakema and was meant to be the first in a series; the forward is by Jurgen Joedicke. Materials include images of CIAM, Newman's publishing contract & correspondence, and reviews of the book. [The publication can be found in Avery Library].

+ Cooper's Point Project, or Plan for the Redevelopment of a Waterfront Community in Camden, NJ (1962): Newman undertook this planning project with Thomas Vreeland, and the project was honored by Progressive Architecture and the Architectural League of New York. Materials consist of the project proposal, correspondence, prints of model images & illustrations, negatives, and award programs.

+ Newman's work in Canada in the early 1960s, includes his design for a museum at McGill University, his Plan for a New Courthouse Complex for Montreal, Canada (1963), and his Plan for the Cite Etudiante Hull, Quebec, Canada (1964). These materials consist of drawings and proposals.

+ While at Washington University in St. Louis, Newman undertook research on campus designs, shopping centers, and new towns, which is included in this series. Also included are the drawings and figures for his design project University City Delmar, and his report "Rehabilitation of Union Market" (1966).

+ Park Mall: Lawndale (1968): This publication outlined a planning strategy for the Park Mall and Lawndale areas in Chicago; it provides design directives and implementation strategies. Newman's research diagrams, illustrations, and a review of the study are included, along with a copy of the publication.

+ Newman's work as an associate at the firm of Raymond & May Associates [Raymond, May, Parish & Pine/ Raymond, Parish, Pine & Weiner/Parish & Weiner, Inc.] on plans and reports in the late 1960s is included in this series. This material includes: "Bethesda Metro Center Master Plan," "Subdivision Plan for Buffalo, New York," "Housing in Fulton Park Model Cities Area: Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York," and "Connecticut Capitol Center Interim Report Draft."

+ Newman undertook several projects in the New York City area focusing on security and crime in the early 1970s. Materials on this subject consist of reports and architectural/planning projects, notably, "Defensible Space Modifications to Eight Jersey City Housing Projects," and Modifications to Public Housing in New York, NY. This material includes notes, correspondence, and copies of drawings.

+ "The Privatization of Streets in St. Louis: its effect on crime and community stability" (1974): was prepared for the National Science Foundation, outlining the effects of implementing Newman's defensible space strategies by closing off and privatizing residential streets in St. Louis, MO. Materials consist of correspondence, a proposal, and the report.

+ "A Model Security Code for Residential Areas" (1974): was prepared for the Ford Foundation by Oscar Newman and Stephen Johnston at The Center for Residential Security Design [includes copy of report].

+ Design Guidelines for Creating Defensible Space (1975): was written by Newman for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA). Materials consist of drafts of the book and a copy of the publication.

+ Modifications to Public Housing in Indianapolis, IN (1974-5): Materials for this project include floor plans and perspectives of public housing and the report "The Crime and Vandalism Problems in Two Indianapolis Public Housing Projects (Raymond Villa and Hawthorne Place) and Recommendations for Remedial Action: Review of the Plans for a Proposed New Housing Project: (Lockefield Gardens)."

+ Housing Designs in Newark, NJ (1970s): These materials consist of floor plans, site plans, and axonometrics of row housing, family housing, and elderly housing proposals.

+ Modifications to Public Housing in Oklahoma City, OK (1976-78): Robert S. Kerr Village; materials consist of photos, perspective drawings, and an axonometric drawing of the site.

+ "Greenwood Gardens Martha Manor Redevelopment Study" (1976): a report for the Seattle Housing Authority; a draft is included along with the report.

+ Modifications to Public Housing in Columbus, OH (1976-82): for the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority; materials include correspondence and reports, photos and negatives, and perspective drawings regarding Windsor Terrace, Sawyer Manor, Sawyer Towers, and Trevitt Heights.

+ "New York State Program to Reduce Crime in Communities of the Elderly" (1979): materials consist of a partial draft and photographs of Seward Park & South Mall Towers, in addition to the final report of Stage 1.

+ Factors Influencing Crime and Instability in Urban Housing Developments (1980): materials consist of correspondence, the executive summary, and a copy of the work.

+ "Housing Design and Children's Anti-Social Behavior" (1981): this study was undertaken by Newman with Karen A. Franck; materials include correspondence, drafts, interview schedules, a concept paper, proposal, and grant applications.

+ Crime Prevention (1982): this material consists of "A Review of the Use of Hardware, Software, Personnel, Physical Design, and Locational Factors in Producing Secure Commercial Areas in High Risk Neighborhoods," as well as a juris search, drafts, notes, reference material, and microfiche. The reports "Independent Management Review and Technical Assistance for Large, Troubled PHA's" and "North Shore Fair Housing Center" are grouped with this material.

+ Safe Neighborhood Redevelopment Plan for District 7, City of Plantation, Florida (1989): Materials consist of reports, negatives, illustrations, data, and site maps.

+ Law in Peru (c. 1980s-90s): consists of three reports and reference map collection.

+ Chicago Housing Authority (primarily 1980s): Newman's work analyzing and reorganizing the CHA; materials include news clippings, negatives, contact sheets, drafts, reports, data, correspondence, notes, reference material, and Newman's contract.

+ New York City Homeless Shelters (1990s): Newman undertook studies on shelters such as the Franklin Avenue Armory, and the Keener Building; materials include negatives & prints, notes, calculations, research, press clippings, court case documents.

+ Dayton, OH (1990s): Materials consist of "Improving the Viability of Two Dayton Communities: Five Oaks & Dunbar Manor," 4 additional reports, correspondence, notes, research material, prints, and press clippings.

+ Newman's work in the 1990's includes projects in Dallas, TX; Flint, MI; Aurora, CO; and Richmond, CA; materials associated with these projects include correspondence, court documents, research materials, and reports.

+ Creating Defensible Space (1996): materials include Newman's original manuscript, publishing information, graphics for the book (used and unused), and a copy of the publication.

+ Undated projects include "The Improvement and Stabilisation of the Bijlmermeer: A Research and Implementation Strategy," an outdoor theatre in Harlem, Washington State Prison Facilities, and a possible design for the World Health Organization (WHO) campus.

Publication Date


Using the Collection

Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Restrictions on 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 email avery-drawings@library.columbia.edu.

All original copies of audio / moving image media are closed until reformatting in 2020.

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. 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

Oscar Newman papers, 1959-1998, Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Sara McGillivray (Graduate Intern) in 2017.

Revision Description

2017-04-20 File created.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found 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 catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Interviews (Sound recordings) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sound recordings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Video recordings (physical artifacts) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Architecture, Domestic -- New York (State) -- New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
City planning -- United States -- Case studies Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Community development, Urban -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Crime prevention and architectural design -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Dwellings -- Security measures -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing policy -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Institute for Community Design Analysis (New York, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Newman, Oscar Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Public housing -- Resident satisfaction -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Public housing -- Security measures -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Urban renewal -- United States. Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note


Oscar Newman was born in 1935 in Montréal, Canada. He graduated from a 6-year program in Architecture and City Planning from McGill University, Montreal in 1959. At the time of his studies, he worked at the architecture firms of Affleck, Desbarats, Michaud, Dimakopolous, Lebensold & Sise Architects (ARCOP) and Van Ginkel Associates; he also worked as an illustrator and photographer for Canadian Architect.

After graduation, he undertook post graduate studies in Europe. In 1960, while abroad, he took a job at Van den Broek and Bakema, Architects in Rotterdam, during which time he also worked on his first book, CIAM '59 in Otterlo (New Frontiers in Architecture), at the behest of Bakema.

Newman married Irene (Kopper) Koning in the early 1960s, and the couple had three children: Paul, Jon, and Hinde.

Newman returned to Canada in 1961 and began working for Martin and Prus, Architects. He was involved in setting up the new school of architecture at Nova Scotia Technical College in Halifax [now Dalhousie University], and taught there as an Assistant Professor of Architecture from 1961 to 1963. During this time he worked with Thomas Vreeland on a redevelopment plan for Cooper's Point, Camden, NJ; which received an award from Progressive Architecture.

In 1963, Newman founded Oscar Newman and Associates, Architects and City Planners. He also left Nova Scotia Technical College to teach at the École de Beaux Arts, Universite de Montreal, where he taught Architectural Studio and Theory of Design as an Associate Professor of Architecture from 1963-4. During this time, he developed a design for a New Courthouse Complex for Montreal, refiguring the existing complex, as an alternative to proposed replacement. He also developed the plan for the Cite Etudiante Hull, Quebec, a 10,000 student live-in high school campus.

Newman moved to St. Louis, Missouri to teach at Washington University from 1964-1968, as an Associate Professor of Architecture at the Graduate Program School of Architecture. While there, he developed curriculum for the school's new Graduate Program in Urban Design, and functioned as the Director of the new Urban Renewal Design Center. His time in St. Louis would feature in his later work as he developed a strategy of closing residential streets to through traffic in order create smaller neighborhood zones that would foster a sense of community; his work culminated in the report "The Privatization of Streets in St. Louis: its effect on crime and community stability" (1974).

Newman went on to teach at the Columbia University Graduate Program School of Architecture & Planning [now the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation] as an Associate Professor from 1968-1970. During this time, he also worked as an associate at Raymond & May Associates [later known as Raymond, May, Parish & Pine], producing planning projects. Newman continued his teaching career as an Associate Professor of City Planning at the Graduate Program School of Public Administration at New York University (NYU) from 1970-1973, where he also served as the Director of the Institute of Planning and Housing.

Newman's work at this time centered on architectural and planning techniques to prevent crime and instill security, especially amongst public housing projects. Through his firm, Oscar Newman & Associates, he worked on modifying existing public housing projects according to his theories, which would become famous after the publication of his 1972 book Defensible Space.

In 1972, Newman founded the Center for Residential Security Design (CRSD), which was later renamed the Institute for Community Design Analysis (ICDA). He also was naturalized as an American citizen.

Following the success of Defensible Space, Newman worked with numerous communities and housing authorities to implement his theories. He and the ICDA undertook research, preparing reports and publications for public agencies like the U.S. department of Housing & Urban Design, and for private organizations such as the Ford Foundation. He also travelled extensively, giving lectures and participating in conferences.

In 1980, Newman release his second most well-known work, Community of Interest, expanding on the ideas introduced in Defensible Space. Newman continued to work with government agencies, in 1982 presenting his proposal to reorganize the Chicago Housing Authority. His research expanded into policy and law, and during the 1980s he became ingrained in the case of the United States v. Starrett City Associates, concerning racial integration in housing. Newman testified as an expert witness and became a public face for the case, participating in interviews and debates on the subject, most notably a televised debate with urbanologist Paul Davidoff. His work on the case resulted in the publication Integration = Intervention: The Use of Occupancy Controls at Starrett City, New York (1983).

Newman subsequently became involved in another Federal case in the late 1980s-early 1990s. He served as the Court Appointed Outside Housing Advisor in the United States v. Yonkers, regarding segregation in the city's public housing. When the court issued a Federal Housing Remedy Order, Newman was put in charge of planning and directing the construction of several hundred units of scattered-site public housing.

Newman moved away from architecture and planning in the mid-1990s, using his retirement to focus on his love of Native American art through woodworking and painting. He explored Native American mythology, publishing a collection of myths and images of his totem poles in the book Secret Stories in the Art of the Northwest Indian. Newman passed away in April of 2004 at the age of 68.