Avery Drawings & Archives Collections

J. Max Bond Jr. papers, 1955-2009

Summary Information

At a Glance

Bib ID 8641981 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Bond, J. Max, Jr.; Harlem Urban Development Corporation; Battery Park City Authority; Davis Brody Bond Aedas; Davis, Brody & Associates; Bond Ryder James, Architects, P.C.; Bond Ryder Associates
Title J. Max Bond Jr. papers, 1955-2009
Physical Description 28 document boxes; 4 print boxes
Language(s) English , French .

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 six series: Office Records, Personal Papers, Faculty Papers, Professional Papers, Project Records, and Reference Materials.


Scope and Content

This collection documents the life and career of J. Max Bond, Jr., one of the most influential and prominent African-American architects and educators in the United States. The collection primarily documents Bond's professional activities rather than his building projects; however, the collection does contain project records and office records. The collection is made up of six series: Office Records, Personal Papers, Faculty Papers, Professional Papers, Project Records, and Reference Materials.

  • Series I: Office Records

    contains papers related to the architectural firms where J. Max Bond, Jr. served as principal or partner. The series is made up of financial papers, the firms' mission statements, firm brochures, project photographs for the firm brochure, project lists and portfolios, some correspondence, and legal papers. The series in divided by subseries according to the firm, and include: Subseries 1: Bond Ryder Associates, Subseries 2: Bond Ryder James, Subseries 3: Davis Brody Associates, and Subseries 4: Davis Brody Bond, which also includes records for Davis Brody Bond Aedas.

  • Series II: Personal Papers

    is made up of some correspondence, pocket diaries/day planners, event invitations, Bond's Ghana Driver's License, alumni material for the Cambridge School and Harvard Graduate School of Design, photographs and slides from various travels and of family members, an oral history transcript of Bond's mother Ruth Clement Bond, and papers related to South Africa protests and activism.

  • Series III: Faculty Papers

    documents J. Max Bond, Jr.'s diverse career as an educator at institutions including Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana, Columbia University, and City College of New York. The series includes the research study Banda Nkwanta spearheaded while Bond was an instructor at KNUST. For the most part, the series contains reports and studies, some syllabi and class notes, and limited correspondence.

  • Series IV: Professional Papers

    is the heart of the collection and contains materials related to work done by J. Max Bond, Jr. outside of the various architectural firms he practiced in. The majority of the material in the series relates to the many juries, panels, design award juries and working group Bond served on throughout his career, as well to Bond's work with Architects' Renewal Committee in Harlem (ARCH). The series also includes lectures and writings by J. Max Bond.

  • Series V: Project Records

    covers J. Max Bond, Jr.'s architectural career spanning from his work in Ghana during the 1960s to his work with Davis Brody Bond Aedas in the 2000s. Documentation for each project is very incomplete and rarely include original architectural drawings. When there are original drawings for a project, they tend to be floor plan sketches in ink on yellow trace paper. Overall, project records usually contain some of the following: correspondence, floor and site plans, publicity materials, project proposals, reports, studies, photographs and slides. Projects represented in the collection include, among others, Apollo Performing Arts Center, Bolgatagna Library (Bolgatanga, Ghana), East St. Louis Housing, Frederick Douglass Circle, Harvard Club of New York City, Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, Langston Hughes Branch Library, Lionel and Gladys Hampton Houses, Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Social Change, New York University Dormitory, Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and The Studio Museum in Harlem.

  • Series VI: Reference Materials

    includes clippings, pamphlets, essays, and books collected by Bond on topics such as architecture, urban planning, public housing, Harlem, Africa, and other related themes.

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.

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.

Preferred Citation

J. Max Bond, jr. papers, 1955-2009, Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

Related Material

J. Max and Ruth Clement Bond Papers at Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source of acquisition--Jean Bond. Method of acquisition--Donated;; Date of acquisition--2009. Accession number--2009.015.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Shelley Hayreh, Archivist of Drawings & Archives in 2011.

Revision Description

2011-10-25 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 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:"
American Institute of Architects. New York Chapter Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architects' Renewal Committee in Harlem (New York, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility/New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Ghana Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- South Africa Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Study and teaching Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- United States -- Designs and plans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Zimbabwe Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, Ala.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bond, J. Max, Jr. Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
City University of New York. City College Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
City University of New York. City College. School of Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Community development -- New York (State) -- New York. Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Harlem (New York, N.Y.) -- Buildings, structures, etc Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Harlem (New York, N.Y.) -- Social conditions Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Harlem Urban Development Corporation Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Harvard University. Graduate School of Design Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing rehabilitation -- New York (State) -- New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Library architecture Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Morningside Park (New York, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
National Organization of Minority Architects (U.S.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
National University of Science and Technology (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Pratt Institute. Center for Community and Environmental Development Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Public housing -- Africa Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Public housing -- Designs and plans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Public housing -- New York (State) -- New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Regional Plan Association (New York, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Studio Museum in Harlem Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Urban Land Institute Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Urban renewal -- New York (State) -- New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note


J. Max Bond, Jr. was born on July 17th, 1935 in Louisville, Kentucky. He was the second of three children born to James Max Bond, Sr. and Ruth Elizabeth Clement Bond. His father, a prominent American educator, served as President of the University of Liberia during the 1950s.

As the son of two educators, Bond grew up on various university campuses in the South. The Bond family lived on the campus of Dillard University from 1938 to 1940 where J. Max Bond, Sr. served as Dean. The family moved to Alabama in 1940 when Bond, Sr. accepted the position of Dean of the School of Education at the Tuskegee Institute (today Tuskegee University). From 1944 to 1947, the family lived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti where Bond, Sr. worked for the US State Department's Inter-American Educational Foundation. After living in Haiti for a few years, the family settled back in the US in Atlanta, GA. Bond, Jr. attended Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta. After graduating in June of 1949, Bond was accepted into Morehouse College, however, his parents felt he was too young for college. In the fall of 1949, Bond entered into The Cambridge School in Cambridge, MA. The train rides between Atlanta and Washington were segregated during this time so Bond would have to change to or from a segregated car in the train yard at D.C. Bond was the second African American student to attend the Cambridge School. He later wrote that "If [the Cambridge School] was a progressive school I can't imagine what a conservative one would have been like."

Bond was one of 11 African American students out of 1100 admitted to Harvard College in the fall of 1951. He graduated magna cum laude in June 1955, majoring in Architectural Science. In the fall of 1955, Bond entered the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Before entering, he was interviewed by Serge Chermayeff and he later wrote that they had a lively exchange where Chermayeff was impressed or at least amused by his youthful cockiness.

Bond's first year at H.G.S.D. proved challenging. As Bond later wrote, a faculty member at the School took him aside and said, "Mr. Bond you seem like a bright young man, but there have never been any great Negro Architects. So why don't you pick another profession." Despite the challenges facing minority students in H.G.S.D. , Bond continued to pursue his degree, graduating in 1958 with a Master of Architecture.

Bond spent the summer after obtaining his M.Arch. at H.G.S.D. in Tunisia. The architectural landscape had a strong impact on Bond, writing later, "I loved the spare landscape (including the olive groves) and the repetition of domes and arches. All in all it was the most impressive architectural experience I had ever had." In the fall of 1958, Bond left Tunisia for France on a Fulbright Grant where he worked with André Wogenscky, Le Corbusier's Chef d'Atelier. Bond worked on projects such as the Unite d'habitation de Briey-en-foret and a submission for a C.I.A.M. meeting.

Leaving France in the fall of 1960, Bond moved to New York where he worked for a time at Gruzen & Partners and later for Pedersen & Tilney. During this time, Bond met his wife Jean. They were married on October 7th, 1961.

Max and Jean moved to Accra, Ghana in the fall of 1964 because, as he wrote later, "of our interest in Africa and Pan-Africanism, [and because we shared] the feeling that Nkrumah was creating a progressive Socialist state. Others in our group shared the desire to live outside the U.S. Du Bois was in Ghana and we felt we could contribute something."

In Ghana, Bond work as an architect for the Ghana National Construction Company. While with the G.N.C.C., Bond worked on projects of interest to President Kwame Nkrumah, including the President's office and residence as well as the Regional Library in Bolgatanga. The Ghana Library Board had programmed several new regional libraries as part of the country's campaign to achieve full literacy. Therefore, the building was designed to include reference, adult and children's sections, and a small auditorium for the literacy program. The design of the building was based on local architecture in that each major space is expressed almost as a separate building, and all are entered from a common area. The building was designed to respond to the local hot-dry climate by natural means rather than by relying solely on air-conditioning. It was probably Bolgatanga Library that he had in mind when he wrote later, "I've always felt I grew up as an architect in Ghana."

Bond began his teaching career in 1965 as an instructor at the University of Science & Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. He accepted the position just a few months before Nkrumah was overthrown in a military coup in February 1966. Every summer, the U.S.T. sponsored research programs for the students, in which they would either work in the school's design office or go out to document villages and indigenous architecture. For one of these research programs, Bond spearheaded a report, Banda Nkwanta, in which the students measured a village and then in studio proposed ways of providing new neighborhoods. Bond later wrote, "Those of us on the faculty learned as much as the students."

Max and Jean returned to the US in the 1967, now with two children (Carey, born December 1964 and Ruth, born May 1966). Back in New York, Bond helped establish and served as the executive director of the Architect's Renewal Committee in Harlem (A.R.C.H.), one of the early community design centers that developed during the late 1960s and 1970s.

In 1968, Bond started teaching at Columbia in the Graduate School of Architecture & Planning. He served as Assistant and Associate Professor from 1969 until 1980, Professor from 1980 to 1985, and Chairman Division of Architecture from 1980 to 1984. After leaving Columbia, Max became the Dean of the School of Architecture and Environmental Studies at City College of New York until 1991.

In 1969, Max co-founded with Donald P. Ryder the architectural firm Bond Ryder Associates. The firm quickly became one of the leading African-American architecture firms in New York and the East Coast. From its inception, the firm was involved in a broad range of projects, including: medium and high density urban housing; urban planning and design; university, religious, and community complexes.

Max served as design architect for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center and Dr. King's entombment. The architecture of the Center was designed to reflect the nature of Dr. King's work and the continuing Civil & Human Rights Movement. Therefore, the formal organization, building proportions, elements and materials each have a spiritual, cultural, and in some cases economic relationship to the goals of the Center.

In 1983, the firm became Bond Ryder James, Architects, P.C. Alongside J. Max Bond, Jr. and Donald P. Ryder as principals was John A. James. Some of the notable projects designed by the firm include Schomburg Center in New York; the Studio Museum in Harlem; several housing developments; Permanent Mission of India to the U.N.; Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; and the Housing Study Choice and Flexibility in Housing for Battery Park City.

In 1991, Bond Ryder Associates joined forces with Davis, Brody Associates. As one of the four partners of DBA, Max continued to be responsible for the planning and design of major institutional, residential, cultural, and commercial developments. DBA associates included Tibbalds-Monro in London, Mwamuka-Mercuir in Harare, and Linda Mvusi/DA in Johannesburg. In 1994, the firm became Davis Brody Bond, which later became Davis Brody Bond Aedas. Davis Brody Bond served as the associate architect for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center. At his death, Bond was the partner in charge of the museum portion of the memorial.

Besides being an educator and an architect, Bond was also very active in a larger professional realm. His extensive community service commitments included membership on the New York City Planning Commission from 1980 to 1986, the Municipal Arts Society Board, Board of Regents to the American Architectural Foundation, and the Trustee Board of the Studio Museum of Harlem. Max also served on many juries, panels, and design award juries including New York State Council on the Arts-Infill Housing Design Competition, Jamaican Governor General's Design Awards, the National Endowment for the Arts panels and the Presidential Design Awards Jury, and the Chrysler Awards. He was also a part of President-Elect Clinton's Round Table on "Design Initiatives Toward an Inclusive and Competitive America."

Among his many awards and honors are Honorary Doctorate from New Jersey Institute of Technology, membership with the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Award for Architecture from the Atlanta Urban Design Commission for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center; 1987 Whitney M. Young, Jr. citation Award from the American Institute of Architects; and the Harry B. Rutkins Memorial Award for Service the Profession from the New York Chapter of the AIA.

J. Max Bond, Jr. died of cancer at the age of 73 on February 18, 2009.

[Quotes have been taken from biographical notes stored on Bond's Desktop Files located in Box 26, Folder 8.]