|Avery Drawings & Archives Collections|
At a Glance
The collection is made up of three series: Architectural Drawings, Property Surveys, and Other Records.
Scope and Content
This collection represent the history of one prominent architectural firm in New York, its most well-known member being Ely Jacques Kahn (1884-1972) whose activity spans over fifty years. The archive was given to Avery Library by the successor firm of Hellmuth, Obata, and Kassabaum in 1978. The firm has been known under the following names:
Buchman & Deisler (ca. 1883-1900) ; Buchman & Fox (ca. 1900-1919) ; Buchman & Kahn (ca. 1920-1929) ; Kahn & Morgan (1930) ; Kahn & (Eliel) Saarinen (1930) ; Ely Jacques Kahn, archts. (1930-1940) ; Kahn & Jacobs (1941-1972)
The series consists of architectural drawings for 117 projects (located primarily in New York City), designed or altered by Kahn and Jacobs and its predecessor firms. Each project was catalogued separately in the online catalog. In order to preserve this historical unit, each project was catalogued in the online catalog in close to chronological order. This finding aid provides a link to each project's associated record. Sheet level description can be found in these project-level records. Each sheet is individually accessioned with numbers ranging from 1978.001.00001 through .08313. In the container listing for this online finding aid, the projects have been listed alphabetically by the available identifier (either building name or address) rather than in accession/chronological order.
This series contains 738 survey drawings for over 270 properties located primarily in New York City. The drawings date from the 1860s to the 1940s, with the bulk created during the Buchman & Deisler and Buchman & Fox years. The surveys are arranged in ascending street order, with non-New York properties list at the end.
Included are specifications, dated from 1903 to 1918, for work done for Messrs. Bloomingdale Brothers Department Store; and three ledger books, dated from 1926 to 1941.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Permission to publish must be obtained in writing from the Director, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, 1172 Amsterdam Ave., MC 0301, New York, NY 10027.
Kahn & Jacobs architectural drawings and papers. Dept. of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.
Ely Jacques Kahn papers, 1906-1986, (bulk 1906-1972): Ely and Liselotte Kahn (1963.001, 1992.003, 1992.011, 1993.016, 1994.013)
Robert Allan Jacobs papers, 18902-1990s, (bulk 1909-1983): Margot Jacobs Gift (1999.013)
[Conceptual cross-section rendering for a multi-use building] / Kahn & Jacobs : Mark Dessauce Gift (2003.005)
150 Permanent Dwelling Units and Community House [Lexington Park, M.D. ] / Kahn & Jacobs: Mark Dessauce Gift (2003.005)
[2 Park Avenue (New York, N.Y)] : [design for bronze Subway sidewalk sign post] / Buchman & Kahn: Andrew Alpern Gift (2010.005)
[Perspective rendering of] Federation Building [New York, N.Y.] / Buchman & Kahn: Catha Rambusch Gift (1994.017)
[Dwelling, 30 West 72nd Street (New York, N.Y)] / Buchman & Fox: Andrew Alpern Gift (2010.005)
[Alterations to House, 21 East 63rd Street (New York, N.Y)] / Buchman & Fox: Andrew Alpern Gift (2010.005)
Students Building [Barnard Hall?] / Buchman & Fox : Gilbert Seltzer Gift (1986.009)
Robert A. Jacobs Photographs, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Source of acquisition--This collection was donated in 1978 by Hellmuth, Obata, and Kassabaum, the successor firm of Kahn & Jacobs.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library
The description and cataloging of drawings were completed by Janet Parks in 1978. Shelley Hayreh, Avery Archivist, processed addtional records, edited and published the finding aid for the collection in 2015.
2009-06-25 File created.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Ely Jacques Kahn was one of the most significant architects in New York City in the 20th century, sustaining an active career over more than six decades. Many of his buildings are now New York City landmarks, bearing witness to the sophistication of Art Deco and Moderne styles and the ambitions of the post-World War II building boom.
Born in Manhattan, Kahn graduated from Columbia College in 1903 and completed further study in architecture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1907-08. Returning to New York, Kahn struggled to find work in the wake of the 1907 stock market collapse. Competition for architectural jobs was tough given the growing number of trained architects and Kahn also faced a rising wall of anti-Semitism in the patrician world of New York architecture. In 1914, Kahn took a teaching position at Cornell as a replacement for a French architect unable to return due to the outbreak of World War I. In 1917, he joined the partnership of Buchman and Fox, already an established firm. As part of Buchman & Kahn, he began designing and building successful commercial buildings, profiting from the building boom in the 1910s and 1920s.
After Buchman's retirement in 1930, Kahn practiced alone for a decade, and was joined in 1940 by the much younger Robert Allan Jacobs. Kahn finished his career in partnership with Jacobs, retiring from the practice in 1969. Jacobs retired soon after, in 1973, and the remaining junior partners of Kahn & Jacobs joined the St. Louis-based architecture firm Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK) that same year. The bulk of this collection consists of the Kahn & Jacobs architectural drawings and records, created between circa 1893 and 1965, which were donated to Avery Library by HOK in 1978.