Avery Drawings & Archives Collections
 

Max Abramovitz architectural records and papers, 1925-1990

Summary Information

Abstract

Max Abramovitz (1908-2004) was an American architect, whose firm Harrison & Abramovitz was one of the leading architectural practices in post-war America. Major commissions include Lincoln Center's Philharmonic Hall and the United Nations complex. The collection contains over 14,500 drawings, over 5,000 photographs, 24 boxes of manuscript material, 7 boxes of oversize material, 23 boxes of financial records, 5 boxes of reprint tear sheets, 36.75 linear feet of specification notebooks, photo albums, sketchbooks, art and artifacts.

At a Glance

Bib ID 3459530 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Abramovitz, Max, 1908-2004 ; Harrison and Abramovitz ; Ferriss, Hugh, 1889-1962 ; Harrison, Wallace K (Wallace Kirkman), 1895-1981 ; Abramovitz-Kingsland-Schiff ; Abramovitz-Harris-Kingsland
Title Max Abramovitz architectural records and papers, 1925-1990
Physical Description 14,000 drawings (approximate); 302 document boxes; 24.5 manuscript boxes; 27 albums
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

Arrangement

This collection is organized into ten series.

Description

Summary

The collection spans the years 1926-1995 and includes architectural drawings, photographs, correspondence, photo albums, scrapbooks, sketchbooks, financial records, reprint tear sheets, specification notebooks, art and artifacts related to the professional work, faculty work, and personal life of New York City architect Max Abramovitz.

The collection includes seven original renderings (1987.005) by Hugh Ferriss for projects designed by Harrison & Abramovitz.

The collection also includes 233 letters and 16 telegrams written by Abramovitz to his wife and children while in the Army. The time period spans 1942 to 1945 and 1950.

  • Series I: Architectural Drawings

    The over 14,500 architectural drawings in this series are arranged by project. Projects are arranged geographically by state and then city. Additionally, projects within New York are listed under the state, then city. Domestic projects are listed first, followed by international projects. Projects with no specified location are listed last.

    The projects in the colleciton represent commissions undertaken by Abramovitz while associated with various firms. Job numbers for the majority of projects. Job numbers beginning with the letter N are Harrison & Abramovitz projects, job numbers with beginning with the letter A are Abramovitz - Harris - Kingsland or Abramovitz - Kingsland - Schiff projects.

  • Series II: Project Photographs

    The Project Photographs are divided into three subseries. The largest is project photographs from AKS Office Files, which contains 4,351 photographs from the office files of Abramovitz-Kingsland-Schiff. Projects undertaken by Harrison & Abramovitz are included in this subseries. The next subseries consists of 16 Albums of Ezra Stoller Photographs. The last subseries, Loose Photographs includes 144 photographs, 20 negatives, and 73 color slides and transparencies. Additional photographs can be found in the series: Personal Papers, Professional Papers, Lincoln Center House, and United Nations.

    The photographs in each subseries are arranged by project. Projects are arranged geographically by state and then city. Additionally, projects within New York are listed under the state, then city. Domestic projects are listed first, followed by international projects. Projects with no specified location are listed last.

  • Series III: Project Records

    The Project Records are divided into four sub-series: Project Files, Financial Records, Shope Drawings, and Specifications. Within each sub-series, the records are arranged by project in geographically order by state and then city. Additionally, projects within New York are listed under the state, then city. Domestic projects are listed first, followed by international projects. Projects with no specified location are listed last.

    The records found in this series tend to be technical and do not document the design process.

  • Series IV: Personal Papers

    The series is arranged into the following sub-series: Biographical Information, Student Work, Sketchbooks, Military Service, and Appointment and Address Books.

  • Series V: Professional Papers

    The series is arranged into the following subseries: Correspondence, Writings of Max Abramovitz, Lectures, Exhibitions, Faculty Papers, Awards and Honors, Associations, Liscenses and Certificates, and Photographs.

  • Series VI: Office Records

    The series is arranged into the following subseries: Job Lists, Financial Records, Scrapbooks, Tear Sheet File, Project Documentation, Promotional Materials and Clippings, and Memorabilia.

  • Series VII: United Nations

    The series is arranged into the following subseries: Meeting Minutes, Le Corbusier, Photographs, Printed Materials, Clippings, Additions and Alterations, and Miscellaneous.

    The architectural drawings for the United Nations can be found in Series I: Architectural Drawings. Additional photographs and project records can be found in Series II and Series III.

  • Series VIII: Lincoln Center

    The series is arranged into the following subseries: Meeting Minutes, Project Files, Printed Materials, Early Schemes and Site Plans, Philharmonic Hall, Metropolitan Opera House.

    The architectural drawings for Lincoln Center can be found in Series I: Architectural Drawings. Additional photographs and project records can be found in Series II and Series III.

  • Series IX: Battery Park City

    The Battery Park City material, with the exception of the Agreement of Lease and copies of the 1973 West Side Highway report, was arranged in labeled file folders. Labels read: N-520 Battery Park City and include a topical subject term. These subject terms are transcribed below at the folder level. In the few instances where these terms have not been used, a note is included giving the wording of the original label. Dates have been added.

    Additional photographs and project records can be found in Series II and Series III.

  • Series X: Art and Artifacts

    Includes artifacts, models, and sketches.

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.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Permission to publish must be obtained in writing from the Director of Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, 1172 Amsterdam Avenue, MC 0301, New York, NY 10027.

Preferred Citation

Max Abramovitz architectural records and papers. Dept. of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York, N.Y.

Ownership and Custodial History

Max Abramovitz gave his first gift to Avery Library in 1987. These seven Hugh Ferriss drawings (1987.005) form part of the Library's Hugh Ferriss architectural drawings collection. He donated his own drawings and papers in ten installments during the years 1990-1997 (1990.003, 1990.007, 1991.002, 1992.017, 1993.001, 1993.006, 1994.014, 1995.022, 1996.020, 1997.004). The bulk of the collection came in the 1997 accession.

At the request of Max Abramovitz, the papers that he deposited at Syracuse University in 1965 were transferred to Avery Library in 1997 (1997.001). The architect also requested that his papers deposited at the University of Wyoming in 1983 be transferred to Avery. This collection was accessioned in 1998 (1998.003).

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Processing Information

This ArchivesSpace finding aid was converted from a legacy finding aid in 2020 by Shelley Hayreh (Avery Archivist).

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.

Genre/Form

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Architects Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architectural drawings -- American Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Architects -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architectural firms Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architectural photography Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- New York (State) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- United States -- Designs and plans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- United States -- History -- 20th century. Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Battery Park City (New York, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Brandeis University Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Buildings -- New York (State) -- New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
International style (Architecture) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Rockefeller Center Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United Nations Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Max Abramovitz was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1908 to a Romanian Jewish immigrant family. Abramovitz received his B.S. from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1929. In 1931, he received his M.S. from Columbia University's School of Architecture. His education continued on fellowship at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1932-1934.

Abramovitz's architectural career began in 1935 when he was employed as an associated at Wallace Harrison's firm, Harrison & Fouilhoux. By 1941, Abramovitz became a partner in the firm, with the practice changing its name to Harrison, Fouilhoux & Abramovitz. After the death of J. André Fouilhoux, the firm was renamed Harrison & Abramovitz (active from 1945-1975). Later partnerships included Abramovitz-Harris-Kingsland from 1976 to 1985, and Abramovitz-Kingsland-Schiff from 1985-1992.

Outside his professional practice, Abramovitz served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Corps of Engineers during World War II. During the war, Abramovitz designed military installations in China. He received the Legion of Merit Award for Service in China in 1945. From 1950-1952, Abramovitz was a Colonel for the Unnited States Air Force. In 1952, he served as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the United States Air Force.

Abramovitz was married to Anne Marie Causey in 1937. They had two children. After their divorce in 1964, Abramovitz married Anita Zeltner Brooks. He died in Pound Ridge, New York in 2004 at the age of 96.