Return to the Finding Aid

Reyner Banham papers, 1877-1988, undated (bulk 1960-1988)

Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record for this collection. Click here for the access policy.

Title: Reyner Banham papers
Dates: 1877-1988, undated (bulk 1960-1988)
Number: 910009
Creator/Collector: Banham, Reyner
Extent: 20.7 linear feet (29 boxes, 5 flatfiles)
Abstract: British-born architectural historian and critic, educator, and editor, 1922-1988. The collection contains draft manuscripts, printed material and research notes for eight of Banham's published books, for unpublished projects, and many articles and reviews related to the history of architecture and design. Included are the notes and manuscripts for his public lectures and his teaching. Other files document his participation on design juries and his consultation work.
Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record for this collection. Click here for the access policy.
Language: Collection material is in English
Repository: The Getty Research Institute
Special Collections
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
(310) 440-7390
Author: Finding aid prepared by Jocelyn Gibbs and Emmabeth Nanol

Biographical/Historical Note

Reyner Banham (1922-1988) was a British-born architectural historian, critic, and educator. He taught at the University of London, SUNY Buffalo, New York University's Institute of Fine Arts, and the University of California at Santa Cruz. His writings and lectures influenced a generation of architects and historians of modern architecture. Banham's writings include reviews, journalistic and scholarly essays, and monographs. Of his many monographs, perhaps the best known are: Theory and design in the first machine age (1960), Los Angeles: the architecture of four ecologies (1971), Architecture of the well-tempered environment (1984), and Concrete Atlantis (1986). After his death, Mary Banham edited A critic writes, a compilation of Banham's essays (1996).

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection contains research notes, manuscripts, and printed materials for eight of Reyner Banham's published books, for unpublished projects, and many articles and reviews related to the history of modern and contemporary architecture and design. Included are the notes and manuscripts for his public lectures and his teaching. Other files document his participation on design juries and his consultation work. Printed materials and reports from the International Design Conference in Aspen (1950-1988) document Banham's involvement with the Aspen design conference during its formative years.

Arrangement note

The papers are arranged in six series: .
Series I. Book manuscripts, 1877-1987;
Series II. Articles and reviews, 1970-1988, undated;
Series III. Conferences, lectures, symposia, 1965-1988, undated;
Series IV. Consulting and design juries, 1966-1988, undated;
Series V. Miscellaneous papers, 1913-1988, undated;
Series VI. International Design Conference in Aspen, 1950-1988, undated



Open for use by qualified researchers.

Publication Rights

Contact Library Reproductions and Permissions.

Indexing Terms

Subjects - Names

Banham, Reyner
Herron, Ron
Piano, Renzo
Ransome, Ernest L. (Ernest Leslie), 1844-1917
Rogers, Richard George
Wright, Frank Lloyd, 1867-1959

Subjects - Corporate Bodies

Brooklyn Museum
International Design Conference in Aspen
Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners
Tennessee Valley Authority

Subjects - Topics

Architecture--California--Los Angeles
Architecture--United States--20th century
Buildings--Environmental engineering
Concrete construction-United States
High technology

Subjects - Places

Buffalo (N.Y.)--Buildings
Los Angeles (Calif.)--Buildings, structures, etc.
Los Angeles (Calif.)--Description and travel

Subjects - Titles

Architecture of the well-tempered environment
Aspen papers
Concrete Atlantis
Los Angeles: the architecture of four ecologies
Scenes in America Deserta

Genres and Forms of Material

Blueprints (reprographic copies)
Photographic prints
Photographs, Original


Piano, Renzo
Price, Cedric
Rogers, Richard George
Waterhouse, Alan

Related Material

The Getty Research Institute holds further material relating to Series VI. International Design Conference in Aspen. See also the International Design Conference in Aspen records, 1949-2006, Accession no. 2007.M.7.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Reyner Banham Papers, 1877-1988, undated, bulk 1960-1988, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 910009.

Acquisition Information

The Getty acquired the bulk of the papers from Mary Banham in 1991. The International Design Conference in Aspen material was added in 1993.

Processing History

Kelly Nipper processed the collection in 1996; further processing occurred in 2000. Emmabeth Nanol physically reprocessed the collection and made minor changes to the finding aid under the supervision of Ann Harrison in 2012.

Container List

Series I. Book manuscripts, 1877-1987, undated 12.71 linear feet (13 boxes, 2 flatfiles)
Includes notes, drafts, printed material, correspondence, reviews and other research materials for Banham's Los Angeles: the architecture of four ecologies (1971), Megastructure (1976), Buffalo: an architectural guide (1981), Scenes in American Deserta (1982), Architecture of the well-tempered environment (1984), Concrete Atlantis (1986), Visions of Ron Herron (1990), and "Making architecture: the paradoxes of hi-tech" (unpublished). The bulk of the material in the series derives from Scenes in America Deserta and Concrete Atlantis. Banham's unpublished project on "High-Tech" architecture includes fairly extensive research materials on the works of Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers.
Arrangement note
Arranged by publication.
Scenes in America Deserta, 1970-1982, undated
Research materials, 1970-1980, undated
Box Folder
1 1 Papers
Includes: clippings; maps; black-and-white photographs; some manuscript materials.
Box Folder
28 1 Color photograph and slide
1 2 Multiple manuscripts, 1976-1981, undated
Correspondence and printed materials, 1975-1982, undated
Includes notes and some manuscripts.
Box Folder
1 3-4 Papers
Box Folder
27* 1 Oversize map of Monument Valley, Navajo Tribal Park
Concrete Atlantis, 1877-1987, undated
Box Folder
2 1 Correspondence and research, 1963-1985
Letters, notes, manuscript proposal, and printed matter.
2 2 Correspondence, 1982-1986
Most letters regard publication, with some manuscripts.
2 3 Annotated drafts, undated
2 4-6 Manuscript, 1986, undated
2 7 Reviews, 1986-1987
Photographs, undated
Some figures missing.
Box Folder
3 1 Lists and annotated photocopies of photographs
3 2 One set of numbered illustrations
Mostly 5 x 7 black-and-white prints.
3 3-7 Figures 3 to 128
Mostly 8 x 10 black-and-white prints. Some prints with multiple copies.
Box Folder
4 1 Illustrations 1 to 14
4 2 Kellog
4 3-5 Other photographs and contact sheets
29 Color photographs, negatives and slides
Includes MIT Graphic Arts: Photo Department; Figure #199; Kellog.
Illustrations and printed materials, 1953-1984, undated
Box Folder
4 6-9 Papers
Box Folder
27* 2 Oversize
Box Folder
4 10 HAER inventory, 1907-1919
Photocopies of Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) survey records of buildings.
Research materials, 1877-1985
Photocopies of articles and illustrations, printed materials, and manuscripts.
Box Folder
5 1-6 General
Box Folder
25 1 Oversize
Box Folder
6 1 This is tomorrow, 1956, 1987
Photocopy of catalogue, published 1956, plus manuscript outline, dated 1987.
6 2 Megastructure, 1961-1982, undated
Includes proposal, bibliography, notes.
6 3 Visions of Ron Herron, 1984 -1987, undated
Includes photocopies of sketches, notes, letters.
Architecture of the well-tempered environment, 1903, 1967, 1982-1983, undated
Box Folder
6 4-6 Papers and drawings, 1967, 1982-1983, undated
1** Blueprints and sketches, 1903, undated
Los Angeles: the architecture of four ecologies, circa 1970
Box Folder
7 1 Notes, drawings and printed materials
Includes maps and postcards.
7 2-5 Black-and-white photographs and postcards
Box Folder
25 2 Oversize
Box Folder
28 2 Negatives
Box Folder
7 6 Buffalo: an architectural guide, 1978-1987, undated
Research materials including photocopies of articles and illustrations, notes and manuscripts.
High-Tech book project, 1965-1987, undated
Research materials, 1965-1986
Photographs, photocopies of articles and printed materials.
Box Folder
8 1-2 General
Photographs, photocopies of articles and printed materials.
Box Folder
25 3 Oversize
Box Folder
8 3 Correspondence, 1983-1987
8 4 Draft outline, introduction and proposal, 1987
8 5-6 Publications and promotional materials, 1980-1985
Includes promotional packet for Nicholas Grimshaw and partners.
Box Folder
9 1-2 Richard Rogers research, 1977-1986
Photocopies of articles.
Renzo Piano research, undated
See also Box 17.
Includes materials relating to FIAT-Lingotto and Torino.
Box Folder
9 3-4 Papers
Photocopies of articles and photographs, some of FIAT in Lingotto and Torino.
Box Folder
28 3 Color photograph
Box Folder
9 5 IRCAM: Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics and Music (Paris, France, 1973-1977)
Fiat VSS experimental vehicle (Turin, Italy, 1978-1980)
Box Folder
9 6 Papers and black-and-white photographs
Box Folder
28 4 Slides
Progetto delle stazioni per la metropolitana genovese (Genova, 1983)
Box Folder
9 7 Papers and black-and-white photographs
Box Folder
28 5 Color photographs
Box Folder
9 8 "Il Prometeo" di L. Nono (Venezia-Milano, 1983-1984)
Piano and Palladio (1986)
Civic and cultural centre: rehabilitation of basilica, Vicenza.
Box Folder
9 9 Papers and black-and-white photographs
Box Folder
25 4 Photocopies of plans and drawings
Industrialized construction system for evolving-type homes (Perugia, Italy, 1978) and One-family homes (Cusago, Milan, Italy, 1972-1974)
Box Folder
9 10 Papers and black-and-white photographs
Box Folder
28 6 Color photographs
Box Folder
9 11 IBM travelling exhibition (1982)
9 12 Montecchio Maggiore (Vicenza, Italy, 1984-1985)
Stadio San Nicola (Bari, Italy)
Opened in 1990.
Box Folder
9 13 Black-and-white photographs
Box Folder
28 7 Color photograph
2** Oversize
Box Folder
9 14 Palazetto dello sport (Ravenna, Italy, 1986)
9 15 Cedric Price research, 1979-1987
Clippings, notes, letters and photocopies.
Series II. Articles and reviews, circa 1970-1988, undated 0.4 linear feet (1 box)
Series includes notes, manuscripts, whole issues of magazines and tear sheets of articles written by Banham, published in Casabella, Art in America, A+U, New Society, and other publications.
Arrangement note
Arranged in rough chronological order.
Box Folder
10 1-2 Notes for articles, 1970s-1988
3 notebooks and a few loose pages, with handwritten versions of articles, including one on the TVA [Tennessee Valley Authority].
Published articles (photocopies), 1974-1980
Box Folder
10 3 "A question of magic," 1976
10 3 "Buffalo Archaeological," 1980
10 3 "Catacombs of the Modern Movement," 1980
10 3 "Europe and American Design," 1974
10 4 "Valley of the Dams," 1977 July 21
About the TVA, in New Society (whole issue).
10 5 "Ransome at Bayonne," 1983
Typed manuscript in 2 versions, with notes, apparently written for the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (JSAH), 1983.
10 6 Correspondence regarding Banham article, 1985
For article on "Modern Nomadism" (called "Domesticity of movement") for catalog of the 17 triennale di Milano.
10 7 "The Most Beautiful Power Plant in the World," 1985 November
In California (whole issue).
10 8 "Art space angst," 1986 January 24
Published article about the Lloyds of London building by Richard Rogers, in New Society (whole issue). See also: Box 10, Folder 20 for another article, in manuscript, about Lloyds building.
10 9 "Modern monuments," 1986 November 14
In New Society (whole issue).
10 10 Interview with Reyner Banham, 1986 March
In Progressive Architecture (PA); several sets of tear sheets, plus whole issue.
"In the neighborhood of art," 1981-1987
Box Folder
10 11 General, 1981-1987
Includes correspondence, receipts, notes, Banham's manuscript and research for article about the De Menil museum for Art in America, June 1987.
10 12 Art in America (whole issue), 1987 June
Box Folder
25 5 The Architecture and Design: Review of Houston, 1981
Box Folder
10 13 "Well Suited to Its Site and Institution," 1987 May
Tear sheets from magazine, Architecture, about Elena Baskin Visual Arts Studios.
10 14 "Making Architecture: The High Craft of Renzo Piano," 1987
Two copies of typed manuscript called "Making architecture," for A+U magazine, with letter from Banham to the magazine.
10 15 Book reviews, 1987
Manuscripts, for TLS ( Times Literary Supplement); with letter to the paper from Banham.
Casabella, 1984-1987, undated
Box Folder
10 16 Correspondence, 1984-1987
Letters from Casabella editors and Banham's carbon copy replies, regarding articles he is writing for the magazine.
10 17 "The Engineering of Utopia," 1987
Manuscript of article on the Tennessee Valley Authority and with letters from Banham.
10 18 Museums: U.S.A., undated
10 19 "End of Silicon Valley," 1987
Manuscript and letter from Banham.
Other articles, undated
Box Folder
10 20 "Grain Elevators: Symbol and Substance"
Proposal for an article.
10 20 "The Quality of Modernism"
10 20 The English Terraced House
10 20 MIT Press book reports
10 20 "New Lloyds of Old London"
10 20 "A Black Box: the Secret Profession of Architecture"
Unpublished article.
10 20 "Fagus & Fiat"
10 20 "The Becher Vision"
Series III. Conferences, lectures, symposia, 1965-1988, undated 0.8 linear feet (2 boxes)
Includes correspondence, printed material and manuscripts related to research on Frank Lloyd Wright's Ocatillo project, 1980; a 1980 lecture at the Neuberger Museum; a conference presentation at the University of Delaware, 1981; L'Americanisme et la modernité colloquium, Paris 1985; Open Spaces, City Places conference, Tucson 1987; and the SE/SAH 1987 conference lecture (about the TVA) in Knoxville, Tennessee. The series also includes multiple manuscripts of a 1988 undelivered lecture titled, "A Set of Actual Movements." Teaching materials course outlines and a bound course reader from Banham's classes at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), with some emphasis on "High-Tech" architecture, are also found in this series.
Arrangement note
Conferences and lectures are arranged by venues, with teaching papers, mostly UCSC materials, at the end of the series.
Box Folder
12 1 "A set of actual monuments," 1988 February 8
1 handwritten and 2 typed versions of lecture in manuscript, with heading: "An inaugural lecture which was not delivered on Monday Feb. 8, 1988 at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, by Reyner Banham, First Sheldon H. Solon Professor of the History of Architecture."
SE/SAH conference, 1965, 1987, undated
Southeast chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians conference in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Box Folder
12 2 Problems of the Art Gallery, 1984-1987, undated
Letters and printed material relate to lecture and travel arrangements.
12 3 TVA lecture, 1965, 1987
Manuscript of lecture (1987), and transcript of interview (1965) with architect of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). See also: TVA article in Box 10.
Box Folder
28 8 Color photograph, undated
Box Folder
12 4 Open Spaces, City Places Conference, Tucson, 1987
Conference held November 19-21; 2 copies of manuscript of Banham's lecture ("Riders of the empurpled page") with slide list, letters and printed program.
12 5 Colloque L'Americanisme et la modernité, Paris, 1985-1986
Correspondence, printed conference material, manuscript of Banham's lecture, and notes. Symposium at École des Hautes études en Sciences Sociales l'Institut Français d'Architecture, October 23-25, 1985.
University of Delaware conference paper, 1980-1981
Box Folder
12 6 Papers
Includes manuscript of "What the Traffic Would Bear," slide list and correspondence.
Box Folder
25 6 Poster
Frank Lloyd Wright's Ocatillo Desert Camp project, 1980-1983
Box Folder
12 7 Papers
Research files on F.L. Wright's Ocatillo camp (for lecture?): manuscripts (by Colin Flavin and Neil Levine) and correspondence.
Box Folder
28 9 Slide
Box Folder
12 8 Neuberger Museum lecture, 1980
Manuscript of lecture and slide list.
Box Folder
13 1 Notebook, 1985-1987, undated
Handwritten notes regard travel, lectures, research, and readings. Includes some notes for Paris' "A et M," 1985 and Tucson's "WOTPS," 1987.
13 2 Other lectures, 1970-1986
IDCA talk, 1970 (photocopy), See also: Series VI for more IDCA materials; Berkeley chat, 1986 (notes); Manuscript of lecture for SAH 1981 annual meeting; transcript of lecture at SUNY, Buffalo School of Architecture and Environmental Design, circa 1983.
University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) 1981-1988, undated
Box Folder
13 3 Course material, undated
Bound reader of photocopied articles about palaces.
13 4-5 Winter course: The Rise of High Tech Architecture, 1981-1988
Course description, preliminary material for teaching, correspondence, course reader (bound photocopied articles), book lists and other materials for course.
13 6 Slide lists, undated
Series IV. Consulting and design juries, 1966-1988, undated 0.8 linear feet (2 boxes, 1 flatfile)
Manuscripts, correspondence, photocopies of articles, photographs, drawings and printed materials regarding Banham's involvements as a juror for the Brooklyn Museum competition, 1986 and Progetto Bicocca, 1986; expert for renovation of Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie house, 1986; essayist for Museum of Moving Image exhibit proposal. Also includes materials relating to Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) exhibit Blueprint for modern living, 1989 including 3 versions of NEH grant applications.
Arrangement note
Arranged by project.
Brooklyn Museum Competition, 1966-1986, undated
Regards a publication about the competition, and Banham's involvement.
Box Folder
14 1-3 Catalogue introduction (by Banham) and competition documents, 1966-1986, undated
Manuscript, photocopies of clippings and correspondence.
3** Brooklyn Museum drawings, undated
Blueprint architectural drawings (6) and photocopied illustrations (2) of the Brooklyn Museum.
Blueprints for Modern Living: History and Legacy of the Case Study Houses, 1985-circa 1988
An exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) in 1989.
Box Folder
15 1 Correspondence, 1985-1987
Most correspondence with Elizabeth Smith, regards planning the exhibit and related events; abstract essay by Thomas Hines; with printed materials about the project and NEH grant.
15 2-4 NEH [National Endowment for the Humanities] grant applications, 1986
Working title: Case Study Houses: History and Legacy. 3 versions of the application.
15 5 "Klarheit, Ehrlichkeit, Einfachkeit...and wit too! The Case-study Houses in the World's Eyes," circa 1988
Banham lecture about case study houses, for MOCA.
15 6 Grant application assessments, 1981, undated
Banham's draft letters of evaluation for 2 grant applications: Léon Ploegaerts study of Henry van de Velde, 1981; and Design Communications grant, undated, to document the Doumani house (Venice, California).
15 7 Progetto Bicocca jury, 1985-1986
Banham manuscript, "BICOCCA '86" and correspondence and printed material
15 8 Robie house cooling and ventilation recommendations, 1985
Correspondence and printed material.
15 9 Motion Picture Design and Vernacular Architecture, 1986-1987
Printed material regarding Museum of the Moving Image; correspondence with Donald Albrecht regarding grant application proposal.
Series V. Miscellaneous papers, 1913-1988, undated 1.8 linear feet (3 boxes)
Series comprises curriculum vitae; professional correspondence including letters from Columbia University regarding teaching for summer session, 1982 and Banham's Sheldon W. H. Solow professorship at New York University, 1987; printed materials including Alan Waterhouse's manuscript; four spiral-bound volumes of drawings and texts of Renzo Piano's works; research on ventilation and solar power and Rudolph Schindler.
Arrangement note
Arranged topically. Correspondence is further arranged by date except for two groupings of letters regarding Banham's teaching at Columbia University and his Sheldon H. Solow professorship, NYU.
Box Folder
16 1 Curriculum vitae, circa 1984
Correspondence, 1976-1987, undated
Box Folder
16 2 Columbia University, 1981-1985
Regards teaching summer session.
16 3 Sheldon H. Solow professorship, NYU Institute of Fine Arts, 1987
Correspondence regards bringing Banham to NYU (New York University) and includes material for his inaugural lecture. See also: Box 12, folder 1 for manuscript of proposed lecture.
16 4 1976-1982
16 5 1983-1984
16 6 1985-1986
16 7 1987
16 8 undated
Includes some notes.
16 9 SAH materials, 1980-1985
16 10 Banham's proposal: Art & Technology: The Elusive Synthesis, undated
16 11 Various notes and printed materials, 1982-1987, undated
Photocopies of draft historical survey report regarding the New York harbor and "The Independent Group: towards a redefinition" by Anne Massey; materials regarding The Charles E. Peterson Prize.
16 12 Alan Waterhouse manuscript, 1980
"Architecture, urbanization and the state;" "The effects of architectural commodities on land use patterns;" application for research grant (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada).
16 13 Computer print-out of Banham files, circa 1988
Renzo Piano material, 1986-1987, undated
1 loose drawing (reproduction) and 4 spiral-bound volumes of drawings and text (photocopies).
17 Drawing of unidentified Turin building, undated
reproduction of (1916) drawing showing elevation and sections
17 Bercy Commercial Centre, 1987
17 Palazzo dello sport, Ravenna, 1986 October
Building workshop S.R.L.
17 Progetto per il nuovo stadio, 1987 February
Includes 4 photographs.
17 Extension IRCAM: construction report, Paris, 1987
Box Folder
11 1-7 Heating, ventilation and solar power, 1913-1988, undated
11 7 R.M. Schindler, 1975
A + U: A Monthly Journal of World Architecture and Urbanism, No. 59.
Series VI. International Design Conference in Aspen, 1950-1988, undated 4.2 linear feet (8 boxes, 2 flatfiles)
Correspondence, reports and printed matter, including conference materials, relate to Banham's involvement in the IDCA, as well as his project to document the history of the conference in his monograph The Aspen Papers (1974).
Arrangement note
Arranged in three groupings: manuscripts containing Banham's manuscripts for publication, The Aspen Papers; twenty years of design theory from the International Design Conference in Aspen; correspondence regarding the publication; research materials including correspondence, photographs, conference papers and printed materials.
Manuscripts, 1965-1973, undated
Box Folder
18 1-4 Aspen Reader, 1965-1973, undated
18 5 Portions of the 1st and 2nd Aspen conferences (by Banham?), undated
18 6 Correspondence regarding The Aspen Papers, 1969-1973
Regards book project, published in 1974.
Research materials, 1950-1988, undated
Box Folder
18 7 Correspondence, 1950-1968, undated
Transcripts, 1953-1970, undated
Box Folder
18 8 John Allpass and Peter Eisenman interview, 1968
18 9 Arthur Cohen, 1962
Manuscripts and correspondence.
18 10 J. Gordon Lippincott, undated
18 11 William Lynch talk, 1965
18 12 Nikolaus Pevsner, 1953
18 13 Cora T. Walker, 1970
18 10 Miscellaneous, 1968-1970, undated
Lists and photographs, 1951-1972
Box Folder
18 15 Committee lists (most photocopies), 1951-1972
18 16 Chairman and speakers lists, 1951-1968
18 17 Attendance list, 1951-1954
Box Folder
19 1-2 Photographs of speakers and panelists, circa 1965-1968
19 3 Annual report, 1951-1960
Conference papers, 1951-1988
Box Folder
19 4-13 1951-1959
Box Folder
20 1-11 1960-1969
Includes some correspondence, printed material.
Box Folder
21 1-3 1970
List of participants.
21 4 1971
List of participants.
21 7 1988
Graphic materials, 1951-1988, undated
Bound conference papers, brochures and pamphlets.
Box Folder
21 8-11 1951-1959
21 12-15 1960-1963
Box Folder
22 1-6 1964-1969
22 7-12 1970-1979
Box Folder
23 1-9 1980-1988
23 10 Design Quarterly, 1986-1987
23 11 Aspen Institute, 1970, undated
Box Folder
25 7 Oversize
26 1974
4** 1960-1973, 1975-1980
5** The Towering Inferno (1974)
Printed materials about IDCA, 1951-1970, undated
Calling cards; pamphlets; Impressions from the Design Conference of Aspen by R. Hunter Middleton and Alexander Ebin, 1951; clippings; full issue publications.
Box Folder
24 1-3 General
Box Folder
25 8 Oversize
Box Folder
24 4-5 Speakers statements and biographies, 1963