Avery Drawings & Archives Collections

Alfred Neumann architectural records and papers, 1900-1985, bulk 1950s-1960s

Summary Information


Alfred Neumann (1900-1968) was a Czech architect with an international career. Most of his major projects were executed in Israel; his earlier work consisted mainly of private residences for Czech clients, as well as commercial and residential architecture undertaken with various firms or government bodies in Paris, Berlin, Algiers, and South Africa. Neumann devoted a substantial portion of his career to teaching and to research into architectural morphology, theories of proportion, polyhedral structures, and architectural space as pattern. He taught at both the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) in Haifa, and the Université Laval in Quebec. He participated in CIAM (Congrès International d'Architecture Moderne), Groupe Espace, and other architectural groups throughout his career. This collection consists mainly of project drawings and photographs, personal and professional correspondence, Neumann's writings and research, papers related to Neumann's membership in CIAM, and publications related to his projects. The bulk of the material dates from Neumann's later career and concerns projects and research undertaken while Neumann was in Israel.

At a Glance

Bib ID 9366747 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Neumann, Alfred, 1900-1968; Neumann, Naomi (Date of work: 1939-1988.)
Title Alfred Neumann architectural records and papers, 1900-1985, bulk 1950s-1960s
Physical Description 8 document boxes; 60 folders (flat-file); 9 rolls
Language(s) English , Hebrew , Korean , Italian , French , Japanese , German , Czech , Dutch; Flemish , 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 arranged in nine series: Project Records, Correspondence, Professional Papers, Writings and Notes, Faculty Papers, Publications, Personal Papers, Artworks, and Reference.


Scope and Content

This collection is composed primarily of project drawings and photographs, extensive personal and professional correspondence, Neumann's writings and unpublished research materials, student artworks, travel photographs, papers related to Neumann's faculty positions and group memberships, and publications related to his projects. The bulk of the material dates from the 1950's and 1960's and concerns projects and research undertaken in Israel. The collection is arranged in nine series: Project Records, Correspondence, Professional Papers, Writings and Notes, Faculty Papers, Publications, Personal Papers, Artworks, and Reference.

  • Series I: Personal Papers

    Comprised of five subseries: Biographical, School Papers, Photographs, Travel, and Other Papers. The first subseries contains birth certificates, biographies and CVs, bank notes from the Terezín ghetto, legal papers, obituaries, and passports. The second subseries contains diplomas from the Akademie der bildenden Kunste in Vienna, the Behrens Prize, matriculation and course certificates from the Deutsche Technische Hochschule in Brno, and student architectural drawings. The third subseries contains portrait photographs of Neumann, photographs of Neumann with students and colleagues, and photographs of friends and family. Subseries 4 contains extensive travel photographs and slides and ephemera from Neumann's travels in Asia. The fifth subseries contains a miscellany of address books, clippings and ephemera not pertaining to architecture, notes, doodles, Naomi Neumann's student and professional papers, and plant matter.

  • Series II: Project Records

    Covers Neumann's architectural career, from early and student projects in the Czech Republic, France, and South Africa, to larger-scale projects in Israel. It also includes records for competitions and other unrealized projects, as well as for Neumann's research on space-packing patterns. The series is comprised of four subseries: Drawings, Files, Photographs, and Model. Subseries 1 contains working and presentation drawings, rough sketches, and reproductions. Most are pencil on trace sketches, brown-line drawings, or reprographic copies. Subseries 2 consists of proposals, reports, notes, correspondence, legal documents, and ephemera pertaining to projects. Subseries 3 contains photographs of models, photographs of the buildings in construction, and interior and exterior photographs of completed buildings. Subseries 4 contains an architectural model for an unidentified project. Within each subseries, entries are listed in alphabetical order according to project title.

  • Series III: Correspondence

    Contains extensive personal and professional correspondence, mainly dating from the 1950's and 1960's. The series is comprised of three subseries: Correspondence of Alfred Neumann (the largest subseries), Correspondence of Naomi Neumann (dating mainly from after the death of Alfred), and Correspondence of Others (correspondence between third parties). Includes letters, drafts, telegrams, postcards, and some enclosures. Notable correspondents include: André Bloc, Yona Friedman, Sigfried Giedion, Jean Ginsberg, Walter Gropius, Zvi Hecker, Le Corbusier, Berthold Lubetkin, Man Ray, William Muschenheim, Moshe Safdie, Jose Luis Sert, and Eldar Sharon. Most correspondence is written in German, French, English, or Hebrew.

  • Series IV: Professional Papers

    Consists of awards, recommendations written for Neumann, bibliographies, documents for exhibitions, competitions, and juries, ecological and topographical studies for Israel, lecture notes, CIAM documents (CIAM V, VI, VIII, IX, and X), and documents for other architectural groups, including Groupe d'Etudes d'Architecture Mobile, Groupe Espace, Japan Architects Association, La Societé des Architectes de la Région de Québec, and Planning Workshop of New York. CIAM documents comprise the bulk of the material for this series, and include correspondence, reports, forms, minutes of meetings, memoranda, and leaflets.

  • Series V: Writings and Notes

    Contains articles written by Neumann for architecture periodicals, Neumann's book L'Humanisation de L'Espace: Le Système M-Phi accompanied by extensive drafts and notes, and papers, which include: Proportion: A Measure of Order, Irrational Factors in Building Industrialization, Aspects d'Architecture, Inertie de la Forme, Architecture as Ornament, Openings, Doors, and Windows, and Morphology of Inside-Outside. The series also contains notes and research on space packing, notes on various architectural topics, and bibliographical notes. Drafts, typescripts, and notes often include versions in several languages (typically English, German, and French).

  • Series VI: Faculty Papers

    Comprised of three subseries: Technion (Israel Institute of Technology), Université Laval, Quebec, and Lectures and Pedagogical Notes. The first subseries contains syllabi of courses and programs of study, student projects, notes regarding curriculum reform, and Neumann's formal proposals for said reform. The second subseries contains a prospectus, syllabi and programs of study, and student works. The third subseries contains teaching plans, lecture notes, proposed curricula, plans for student projects, notes on architectural education, and articles and papers on pedagogical topics.

  • Series VII: Publications

    Comprised of three subseries: Articles about Projects (Periodicals), Articles about Projects (Newspapers), and Articles about Neumann. The first subseries is the largest and contains articles about and photographs of Neumann's projects, mainly in architecture, engineering, and design periodicals in numerous languages, along with a handful of popular magazines (1959-1971). The second subseries contains articles about projects in Israeli newspapers (mainly in Hebrew). The third subseries contains articles concerning Neumann's architectural career, his influence within Israeli architecture, his role as an educator, and his thoughts on various architectural topics, in both newspapers and architectural periodicals. This last subseries also contains an exhibition catalogue from Harvard, which cites Neumann's projects and research.

  • Series VIII: Artworks

    The series consists mainly of drawings and sketches in various media, with a handful of oil paintings. Composed primarily of portraits and life drawings, the latter of which were most likely executed while Neumann was a student at the Deutsche Technische Hochschule. Also contains a self-portrait in oil, reproductions of artworks, caricatures, landscapes, figural drawings in the manner of Picasso, and non-figural drawings and watercolors. The works are listed according to subject matter and medium. Artworks not created by Neumann have been so noted.

  • Series IX: Reference

    The series is composed of materials Neumann may have used over the course of his researches on space packing, for his various articles, his book L'Humanisation de L'Espace: Le Système M-Phi, or for lectures. It contains architecture periodicals, newspaper and magazine clippings on architectural topics, photographs of Brno interiors, academic papers and articles, and the contents of seven slide boxes, which may have been used for Neumann's lectures. The first three slide boxes primarily contain photographs of Neumann's projects. The latter boxes contain personal photographs, images taken from published sources, and diagrams pertaining to Neumann's researches on polyhedral geometry, morphological architecture, and proportion.

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.

Restrictions on Use

Columbia University is providing access to the materials in the Library's collections solely for noncommercial educational and research purposes. The unauthorized use, including, but not limited to, publication of the materials without the prior written permission of Columbia University is strictly prohibited. All inquiries regarding permission to publish should be submitted in writing to the Director, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For additional guidance, see Columbia University Libraries' publication policy.

In addition to permission from Columbia University, permission of the copyright owner (if not Columbia University) and/or any holder of other rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) may also be required for reproduction, publication, distributions, and other uses. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of any item and securing any necessary permissions rests with the persons desiring to publish the item. Columbia University makes no warranties as to the accuracy of the materials or their fitness for a particular purpose.

Preferred Citation

Alfred Neumann architectural records and papers, 1900-1985, (bulk 1950s-1960s), Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source of acquisition--Eva Neumann. Method of acquisition--Donated;; Date of acquisition--2009. Accession number--2009.020.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Lauren Murtagh (Graduate Intern) under the supervision of Shelley Hayreh, Avery Archivist, in 2012.

Revision Description

2012-04-03 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:"
Architecture -- France -- Designs and plans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Israel -- Designs and plans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- South Africa -- Designs and plans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Study and teaching Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture, Modern -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Behrens, Peter, 1868-1940 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bill, Max, 1908-1994 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Dwellings -- Design and construction Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gropius, Walter, 1883-1969 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
International Congresses for Modern Architecture Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Le Corbusier, 1887-1965 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Neumann, Alfred, 1900-1968 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Planned communities -- Designs and plans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note


Alfred Neumann was born in Vienna on January 26th, 1900 to Hermine Hikl and Sigmund Neumann, a furniture maker. They moved to Brünn (now Brno) in the 1910's, where Neumann attended the Deutsche Technische Hochschule from 1919 to 1922 (there he received some training in the fine arts as well as architecture). He subsequently attended the Meisterschule für Architektur at the Akademie der bildenden Kunste in Vienna (1922-1925), where he studied under Peter Behrens and was awarded the Behrens Preis in 1924. Upon completion of his studies in Vienna, Neumann moved to Paris where he studied under Auguste Perret at the Atelier du Palais de Bois (1926-1932). During the 1920's, Neumann also worked for French architect Charles Siclis (1925) and for Peter Behrens in Berlin (1927) (projects during this period include cinemas, metro stations, department stores, and housing). Neumann was additionally employed in Paris by Ali Tur, architect of the Ministère des Colonies, under whom he worked on Parisian housing developments and the reconstruction of Guadeloupe after a 1928 hurricane. Later that year Neumann traveled to Barcelona to study the work of Antoni Gaudí.

In 1928 and 1929, Neumann worked in Algiers for the architect Jacques Guiauchain on projects for the Bureaux Administratifs du Palais du Gouvernement and other civic and municipal projects. In the early 1930's, Neumann worked in the offices of various architects in Paris, including Pierre Forestier, Jean Ginsberg, Denis Honegger, Berthold Lubetkin, Auguste Perret, Georges-Henri Pingusson, and Maurice Rotival (projects of this period include housing, schools, and recreation facilities). During the 1930's, Neumann was a member of the Parisian artists' groups Cercle et Carré and Abstraction-Création, avant-garde groups which promoted abstraction in the arts.

Between 1934 and 1936 Neumann worked for the architectural firm of Kallenbach, Kennedy, and Furner in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa, on residential and commercial projects. After a brief period in Paris, Neumann returned to Brno and practiced independently, producing mainly residential buildings, interior designs, and furniture designs for private clients. In February of 1945, Neumann was deported from Prague to the concentration camp Terezín (Theresienstadt); he was freed in May of that year. After the war, Neumann worked for the Country Research and Planning Institute in Brno (1945-1948). In 1947, Neumann attended CIAM VI in Bridgewater, England, with a Czech delegation, where he presented planning studies for the Moravian region of Czechoslovakia (other architectural groups with which Neumann was involved at various points in his career include Groupe Espace, Groupe d'Etudes d'Architecture Mobile, Japan Architects Association, and La Societé des Architectes de la Région de Québec).

Neumann immigrated to Israel in 1949, where he initially worked in Jerusalem for the architect and town planner Richard Kaufmann. Between 1950 and 1953, Neumann was employed by the Israeli government to work on regional and urban planning projects (notably for Jerusalem and the town of Beit-Shemesh). In 1952, Neumann became Professor at the Faculty of Architecture, Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) in Haifa. He later became Dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning (1953-1960) and was awarded the Mary Hill Swope Chair of Architecture (1961). He planned a new curriculum incorporating studies on human biology, psychology, morphology, and ecology in keeping with his researches on the humanization of architecture. In 1956, Neumann published the book L'Humanisation de L'Espace: Le Système M-Phi, which principally addresses questions of modular coordination and theories of proportion.

In 1959, Neumann established an architectural practice with his former Technion students Zvi Hecker and Eldar Sharon. That year he also undertook a round-the-world trip, including visits to numerous cities in India, Southeast Asia, the United States, and Europe. During these later years, Neumann also explored the notion of 'space-packing' systems as three-dimensional arrangements of geometric spatial units. His major projects in Israel include the Bat Yam City Hall and Civic Center, holiday camps at Achziv, Michmoret, and Kiryat Yam, a housing village for Arab refugees at Ein-Rafa, Dubiner Apartment House in Ramat Gan, the Danciger Building for the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the Technion, Beit Zayit Youth Camp and Restaurant, and the Synagogue at the Officer's School on Training Base I in Mitzpe-Ramon. Competitions Neumann engaged in during this period include those for Netanya City Hall, the Ashdod City Center, an Auschwitz memorial, and the Amsterdam Town Hall. Many of these projects were considered experimental by Neumann's contemporaries. Neumann's work gained some international exposure during his life through publication of dozens of articles in leading professional periodicals, including L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, Domus, Architectural Design, Zodiac, Arts and Architecture, and others.

In 1962 Neumann married Naomi Gottesman (1939-1988), one of his students at the Technion. Their daughter Eva-Marie was born later that year. From 1962 to 1963, and from 1965, Neumann taught at the Ecole d'Architecture at the Université Laval in Quebec. Neumann died in Quebec on October 23, 1968.


Segal, Rafael. "Unit, Pattern, Site: The Space Packed Architecture of Alfred Neumann, 1949-1968." Diss. Princeton University, 2011. Abstract.

Alfred Neumann Fonds, compiled by Eva-Marie Neumann.

Curriculum Vitae, Alfred Neumann