Avery Drawings & Archives Collections

Félix Candela architectural records and papers, 1950-1984

Summary Information


Felix Candela (1910-1997) was a Spanish-born architect and engineer who gained a worldwide reputation for designing complex concrete structures, especially thin concrete shell structures, many times involving double curvature (hyperbolic paraboloid). This collection contains materials related to Candela's personal, professional, and academic lives, overarching all periods of his career. Project records document the full range of his work of both his Mexican and American periods. The collection contains extensive correspondence with personal friends, clients, and professional and academic colleagues; a large number of reference files relating to architecture, design, urbanism, technology, sociology, anthropology, and current events, compiled throughout Candela's professional life; architectural drawings and photographs from his work; and writings by and about Candela.

At a Glance

Bib ID 3464748 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Candela, Félix, 1910-1997; Pérez Piñero, Emilio, 1935-1972
Title Félix Candela architectural records and papers, 1950-1984
Physical Description 1876 drawings (1876 items); 50 linear feet of paper materials
Language(s) Spanish; Castilian .

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.



The collection is made up of seven series: Personal Papers, Correspondence, Professional Papers, Office Records, Photographs, Project Records, and Reference Materials.


Scope and Content

Prior to the publication of this finding aid in February 2012, the material in the Candela archive was assigned a box and folder number according to the original receipt of the collection. For the finding aid, the collection was organized in the following series and the folders were accordingly placed in this sequence. As a result, all folders have a new box and folder number. The old box and folder numbers, used prior to February 2012, have been recorded as part of the processing and can be consulted by requesting that information. For the majority of cases, the content of the folders have remained intact; if material was separated into different folders, the original box and folder would still be recorded for all materials.

  • Series I: Project Records

    Candela's practice developed in two ways. In Mexico he functioned both as designer and "master builder" of complex concrete structures, especially thin concrete shell structures, many times involving double curvature (hyperbolic paraboloid). As his reputation grew on the global stage, he was brought into projects as a structural consultant. The organization of Candela's files is unusual and reflects the particular type of architectural practice he developed. His role in architectural projects focused on the enclosure of the buildings. As a result he did not keep files on a project basis but used his correspondence files to track his business. The drawings in the archive document the extent of his participation in the design of the building and are generally not complete construction sets (no electrical, plumbing, etc.). The photographs too show his work under construction and generally not the completed work. A second subseries of photographs relate to the photographs used in the publication by Colin Faber. These photographs are listed separately within the inventory.

  • Series II: Correspondence

    As Candela developed his practice as a designer of concrete shells, he collaborated increasingly with architects on a global scale. As his reputation grew, Candela was frequently asked to lecture and teach at architecture schools around the world. Candela filed all his correspondence – business, personal, project-related, faculty, etc. – in an idiosyncratic system. He maintained several different filing systems for his correspondence and letters to and from the same person may be found in several folders. He established files labeled by project, date, location, and/or geography, all of which may overlap chronologically. The correspondence has been organized into four series with extensive notes on the correspondents where applicable. The notes should be used to find names of specific correspondents.

  • Series III: Professional Papers

    Candela maintained a high professional profile throughout his career through lecturing, publication, and teaching. For correspondence regarding any of these activities, it is also good to check the correspondence series. Information about Candela's various teaching assignments could be found in a folder of correspondence under the dean of a particular school. In order to promote his company Candela wrote frequently and sought publicity for his works. For his own professional development, Candela translated engineering and socio-political works.

  • Series VI: Office Records

    The calculations and drawings in this section are drawings about structural problems, not for specific buildings. They function as technical exercises for the development of Candela's ideas. There are several files concerning Candela's business collaboration with Emilio Pérez Piñero, a promising Spanish architect known for his work on deployable, and in some cases mobile, reticular structures; including a dome at Salvador Dali's Theatre-Museum. Pérez Piñero died in a car accident at age 37.

  • Series V: Personal Papers

    Contained within this series are biographical papers as well as documents regarding Candela's activities and thoughts on the political situation in Spain.

  • Series VI: Reference Publications

    Candela kept an extensive personal library of books, journals, and articles on contemporary architectural projects and developments. These have been organized alphabetically by title or concept, as Candela had filed them.

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, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, 1172 Amsterdam Avenue, Mail Code 0301, New York, NY 10027.

Preferred Citation

Félix Candela architectural records and papers, Dept. of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. Columbia University, New York, NY.

Related Materials

Félix Candela Papers, 1767-2007 (mostly 1924-1997) at Princeton University Library's Department of Special Collections, Manuscripts Division.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source of acquisition--Gift. Accession number--2003.027.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Processing Information

The Felix Candela collection was processed over a number of years because of the technical and language demands of the material. The inventory of project drawings was compiled initially by Ruri Yampolsky and reviewed and updated by Elisa Rugarcia. Ines Sanchez de Madariaga created a preliminary inventory of the personal papers and correspondence. Brendan Curley and Elisa Rugarcia contributed to a more detailed inventory of the papers. The final description and arrangement of the collection was undertaken and completed by Daniel Talesnik as a Mellon Graduate Student Intern, under the guidance of Janet Parks, Curator of Drawings and Archives, who also provided the series descriptions. Andrea Merrett, also a Mellon Graduate Student Intern, completed the final arrangement of the collection. Shelley Hayreh, the Avery Archivist, edited and published the finding aid for the collection in 2012.

Revision Description

2011-10-27 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:"
Architects -- Mexico Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Caribbean Area Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Central America Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Mexico -- Designs and plans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- South America Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- United States -- Designs and plans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture, Modern -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Concrete construction -- Mexico Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Flexible structures Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Roofs, Shell Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Shells (Engineering) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Structural design -- Themes, motives Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Structural engineering Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Felix Candela was born on January 27th, 1910 in Madrid, Spain. He studied architecture in the Escuela Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid and received his diploma in 1935. In 1939, during the Spanish Civil War, he emigrated to Mexico, adopting Mexican citizenship in 1941. During the 1970s he resided in the United States and became and citizen in 1978. Felix Candela died in Raleigh, NC in 1997.

Along with siblings Antonio and Julia he founded Cubiertas Ala S.A. in Mexico City, a design and construction company devoted to reinforced concrete shell and laminar structures. Amongst his most renowned projects are the cosmic ray laboratory at the Ciudad Universitaria, the Iglesia de la Virgen de la Milagrosa (1953), and the Palacio de los Deportes of the XIX Olympics held in Mexico City (1968) in collaboration with Enrique Castaneda and Antonio Peiri.