Avery Drawings & Archives Collections
 

Taliesin Associated Architects projects in Iran : architectural drawings and records, 1968-1980

Summary Information

Abstract

This collection is composed primarily of the projects (built or unbuilt) that Taliesin Associated Architects (TAA) conducted in Iran in collaboration with Nezam Amery and his office NAKK spanning from 1965 to 1979. The collection includes final and working project drawings, correspondences, contracts, estimates, calculation, photographs, and additional papers. It also includes records of litigation after 1979 in the United States Courts. While the time of the projects overlaps, the series are arranged chronologically based on the dates each contract was signed.

At a Glance

Bib ID 14262807 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Taliesin Associated Architects ; Peters, William Wesley ; Amery, Nezam , 1926-2016 ; Brierly, Cornelia ; Wright, Olgivanna Lloyd ; Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
Title Taliesin Associated Architects projects in Iran : architectural drawings and records, 1968-1980
Physical Description 8 document boxes; 32 rolls; 59 oversize folders; 1 print box; 1 manuscript box
Language(s) 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 email avery-drawings@library.columbia.edu.

Arrangement

Description

Scope and Contents

This collection is composed primarily of the projects (built or unbuilt) that Taliesin Associated Architects (TAA) conducted in Iran in collaboration with Nezam Amery and his office NAKK spanning from 1965 to 1979. The collection includes final and working project drawings, correspondences, contracts, estimates, calculation, photographs, and additional papers. It also includes records of litigation after 1979 in the United States Courts. While the time of the projects overlaps, the series are arranged chronologically based on the dates each contract was signed.

  • Series I: Pearl Palace

    The Pearl Palace was a dream commission for Peters and TAA who were fascinated by "Tales of the Arabian Nights." The contract was signed in November 1965 following William Wesley Peters' travel to Tehran. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on November 30, 1969. Tom Casey was the on-site superintendent and the structural designer of the Pear Palace and lived in Iran with his wife Effi (who was also a member of the fellowship) for about seven years. Other members including Johnny Hill, Cornelia Brierly, Stephen and Frances Nemtin also worked on the interior and landscape designs and by traveling to Iran supervised the implementation of the designs. Olgivanna Wright supervised the interior design and chose the color schemes and fabrics. Pearl palace was finished in December 1st, 1973 but in 1974 the large dome started to leak and the process of restoration continued to 1977. The total cost of the construction was estimated around 3.5 million dollars.

    A large portion of the documents and drawings in this series are related to the interior design and the construction of the interior spaces. While the Iranian Behsaznow Construction Co. Ltd. was the main contractor, Western Contract International (WCI) was responsible for ordering the manufacturing and importation of many of the interior components that were designed by TAA and produced all over the world. Ickes-Braun Glasshouses (IBG) was the American contractor for the translucent domes system and Georgio Adreani and Co. from Italy designed and executed the aluminum and plastic parts of the palace. Musetti-Raffo Company from Italy did the Marbles while George Thomas Association designed the auditorium lighting. Chandeliers were produced in Vienna and Uffizi Gallery employees applied gold leaves to the walls.

    This Series is divided of two sub-series: Drawings and Records.

  • Series II: Mehrshahr Development

    This project's drawings were extracted from the documents of the Pearl Palace and the Mehrafarin Villa. In fact, it was not a separate project and was done, apparently along with the Pearl Palace. It is a development of a large neighborhood on the Northeast side of the Palace estate. The drawings include site and infrastructure development and architectural drawings for a model family residence. This series contains around 70 drawings.

  • Series III: Minoo and Kish Islands

    This series includes the documents and drawing for the research that was conducted by TAA, NAKK and the Research International Division of the American Institute for Foreign Trade (later replaced by International Research Associates) to prepare the feasibility studies of the Islands of Minoo and Kish and to determine whether either one of these islands could be developed into a tourist resort of world-wide recognition. The official agreement was signed in 1967 and the last proposal was submitted in 1970. The records include the correspondences and follow ups up until 1973. The design of a schematic master plan drawing is also documented in the Drawings Subseries.

  • Series IV: Mehrafarin Villa

    In 1970, Shams Pahlavi commissioned TAA to design another complex of palaces in a 20-hectare (50 acre) estate in Chalus in the North of Iran near the Caspian Sea. The compound consists of multiple separate and independent buildings including the main house, four guest houses (one of which was adopted for the temporary residence of Shams until the main house would be completed), a Tea pavilion, a house for Shahbaz the elder son and another for Shahyar the younger son of Shams, and some other structures such as a servant lodge, a guard house and volleyball courts.

    The initial design was presented in June 1970 in which the construction and final design of the project was divided into two phases: the first phase includes the Tea pavilion and guest houses whose final designs are dated 1973. The second phase covers all the other spaces up until 1975. The records of the project are missing and only one explanatory brochure is survived. This series contains around 650 drawings.

  • Series V: Regional Center for Iranian Culture

    This series contains the Drawings and Records for the design of the Regional Centre for Iranian Culture for the Technical University of Iran in Tehran. The contract is signed between the government of Iran acting through Technical University of Iran and Nezam Amery in 1975 and TAA has an agreement for a joint venture with Nezam. This unbuilt project is an educational and archival center that as stated in the Schematic Master Plan is "to store and make available to interested and qualified students the many faceted aspects of Iranian culture." The Schematic Master Plan is divided into two phases which are presented in four packages. Packages A, B and C are architectural drawings and package D is the textual description and explanation of the project. Other than official correspondence, contracts and estimates, Records includes some research study regarding libraries and their mechanization, a Program Study and Schematic Master Plan. The series includes more than 200 drawings.

  • Series VI: Damavand College

    This series includes Drawing and Records for the design and construction of a women's college on the foothills of the Damavand Mountain northeast of the city of Tehran. The Damavand College was the expansion of Bethel School for Girls, founded by the American Presbyterian Mission in Tehran. The contract for this commission was signed in October 1970 between TAA and Ms. Frances Gray, the director of school and the representative of the Board of Trustees. The first phase of the development was designed to include residence hall, an auditorium, student center, gymnasium, athletic fields, and staff accommodations. This series include Structural, Architectural, Mechanical and Electrical drawings. Records include promotional brochures, correspondence, contracts, cost and statements and some photos of the construction site and the finished project.

  • Series VII: Other Files

    This series contains other documents related to Iran that were found in TAA files but could not be catalogued under any of the projects. It includes a copy of the Articles of Incorporation of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation from 1965, some researches for the Shahistan project and Olgivanna Lloyd Wright and Tom Casey disputes over the latter's salary in Iran.

Using the Collection

Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Conditions Governing 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.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Alireza Karbasioun, Graduate Intern in Primary Sources, under the supervision of Shelley Hayreh, Avery Archivist, in 2019.

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.

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Architectural firms -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Designs and plans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Iran -- Designs and plans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Damavand College (Tehran, Iran) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Iran -- Politics and government -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Pahlavī, Shams Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Palaces -- Iran Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Pearl Palace (Mehrshahr, Iran) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Princesses -- Iran Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wright, Frank Lloyd, 1867-1959 -- Influence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

This collection is created mainly by the Taliesin Associated Architects of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. A number of Taliesin Fellowship and TAA members also actively participated in designing and constructing of the projects in Iran, nevertheless, the official drawings are signed by and carry the name of William Wesley Peters as the chief architect. The name of Nezam Amery, a former apprentice of Mr. Wright who coordinated the bureaucratic matters and the construction phase in Iran also appears below the drawings as the Iranian associated architect. Introducing the creators of this collection requires a brief history of Frank Lloyd Foundation.

THE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT FOUNDATION

When Frank and Olgivanna Lloyd Wright established the Taliesin Fellowship in 1932 in Spring Green, WI, they envisaged it as an apprenticeship program "to provide a total learning environment integrating all aspects of the apprentices' lives with the intent of educating responsible, creative and cultured human beings." Established amidst the hardships of the Great Depression, during the time that Wright was receiving few commissions, the Taliesin Fellowship required thirty accepted apprentices to pay $1100 tuition to be able to study with the master. Beyond merely learning architecture, the apprentices were expected to engage and master other activities like molding and casting, music, dance and drama, painting and sculpting as well as cooking, gardening, farming and developing the estate by doing construction works. In 1937 Wright added a winter home and school in Scottsdale, AZ—Taliesin West— to the fellowship. Wright and the fellowship then established a migration pattern between Spring Green and Scottsdale. In 1940 the Wrights and Wes Peters incorporated the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to maintain and propagate Wright's legacy and administer Taliesin and Taliesin West.

TALIESIN ASSOCIATED ARCHITECTS

Frank Lloyd Wright died in 1959 but with Olgivanna Lloyd Wright as the leader, the fellowship program continued its work under the umbrella of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation supported by Taliesin Associated Architects. The senior members of the Fellowship formed TAA as a division of the Foundation (a non-profit corporation) to fund and support other entities. In June of 1965, the Foundation—originally incorporated as a Wisconsin corporation—was reorganized and incorporated in Arizona still as a non-profit corporation for which Olgivanna Lloyd Wright was appointed as president and William Wesley Peters as Vice President. In its Articles of Incorporation, the Foundation includes an architectural school and an architectural business. The Foundation aimed primarily to administer and support the school of architecture with emphasis on the teachings of the late Frank Lloyd Wright and his "organic architecture" both as an architectural philosophy and a trademark. TAA was made up of the senior members who had a lifetime experience of living in the fellowship community and working with Wright. They were also the faculty of the architecture school and instructors of the new apprentices. William Wesley Peters, Frank Lloyd Wright's son-in-law and protégé was both a Trustee of the Foundation and the chief architect of both the school and TAA at the time when their projects in Iran were being conducted.

WILLIAM WESLEY PETERS

Known to his friends and associates as Wes, William Wesley Peters was born on June 12, 1912 in Terre Haute, IN. Peters studied at Evansville College in Indiana and then graduated from M.I.T. He came from a wealthy family and by paying the tuition in advance, after speaking with Wright, became the first apprentice of the Fellowship in 1932. Except for two years in private practice, he never left the fellowship and remained Wright's "right arm" in different capacities, significantly among them as structural engineer and project manager on many of Wright's signature buildings and most acclaimed projects including Fallingwater in 1936 in Mill Run, PA, Johnson's Wax administration building and its adjacent research tower built in Racine, WI. (1936-44), and the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan completed in 1959.

In 1935 Peters married Svetlana Hinzenburg, Wright's adopted daughter from Olgivanna's previous marriage. The couple had two sons, Daniel and Brandoch. Svetlana who was pregnant and Daniel who was two years old were killed in an automobile accident in 1946. Peters gained fame in the eye of the general public and outside his profession for his brief marriage to Svetlana Alliluyeva, the daughter of Stalin. This marriage which was coordinated by Mrs. Frank Lloyd Wright, as she was liked to be called, in 1972 (twenty days after Svetlana's arrival to the Taliesin) lasted only for 20 months. Chafing the regimented and communal way of life at Taliesin West, Alliluyeva left Peters and took their daughter Olga with her. They were divorced in 1973.

After Wright died in 1956, Peters succeeded him as the chairman of TAA and the Vice President of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and in 1985, after Olgivanna's death, he became the chairman of the Foundation too. Peters was a registered architect in 50 states and personally designed more than 100 projects and a variety of structures including churches, schools, hotels, banks, shops and residences, libraries and performing art centers including the projects in this collection.

Peters died in St. Mary's Hospital in Madison, WI. of the effects of a stroke in July 1991 at the age of 79.

TAA and Peters connection to Iran and the Pahlavi family (as the direct client of three projects and indirect client of two others of this collection) was through the only Iranian apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship, Nezamedin Khazal Kabi Amery, a.k.a Nezam Amery.

NEZAM AMERY

Nezam Amery was born in Tehran in 1926. A year prior to his birth, Reza Shah (King of Iran at the time) defeated and ousted his father Sheikh Khazal who was the ruler of Mohammerah (now Khoramshahr in Southwestern Iran) and detained him under home arrest. He later was killed by Shah's order in the same home in which Nezam was born. During his early years Nezam was not allowed to leave the town either and only after the WWII when Allies overthrew Reza Shah, he could travel outside the country to study. He finished Highschool in Tehran and then went to England. After a short stay in England, Nezam moved to the U.S to go to college. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture from Kent State University in Ohio. Upon graduation, because of his fascination with the drawings and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, he went to study with him. In 1952, after an interview with Wright he was accepted into the Fellowship and for two years studied and worked both in Arizona and Wisconsin. He then returned to Iran and started to work as an architect in architectural offices (in an interview he mentions working for Gendarmery and designing barracks), he opened his own office in Tehran in 1956. But in 1957 after receiving Wright's invitation, he traveled to Baghdad, Iraq, and was delegated as Wright's representative in the Middle East and the supervisor of the Baghdad projects. Nezam, as he remembers, spent two more years in Taliesin working on the Baghdad Opera House and Post and Telegram Building and then returned to Baghdad to proceed the construction work. However, with the breakout of the Iraqi Revolution in July 1958 the projects were foiled and his mission in Iraq was curtailed. He went back to Tehran and in 1963 he eventually established his office "Nezam-Ameri, Kamooneh, Khosravi," (a.k.a NAKK) associating with two of his former employees Kamal Kamooneh and Hormozdyar Khosravi. His office was very active and designed and built a variety of projects in different scales including hospitals, Universities, various offices for Government Ministries such as Agriculture, Education, Health, Tourism and Justice among others, Banks, Housing Projects, Hotels, University Buildings and Corporate headquarters until the 1979 Iran Revolution. After the revolution the office was closed, the assets were qualified for settling the accounts and the partners left Iran for good. Nezam moved to London where his wife Shenda and his children had been living for several years. Nezam died in 2016 in London.