Archival Collections
Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library

Wallace K. Harrison architectural drawings and papers, 1913-1986 (bulk 1930-1980) 

Harrison, Wallace K. (Wallace Kirkman), 1895-1981.
Phys. Desc: 
Papers: approx. 13 linear ft;; Drawings: 2,415
Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library
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Online information

Biographical Note

Wallace K. Harrison, (1895-1981), was an American modernist architect. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, where as a teenager he worked for the contractor O.W. Norcross and the architectural firm Frost & Chamberlain. Beginning in 1916, the architectural firms for which Harrison worked were McKim, Mead & White; Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson; Frank J. Helmle & Harvey Wiley Corbett; Corbett, Harrison & MacMurray; Harrison & Fouilhoux; Harrison, Fouilhoux & Abramovitz; and others. He also did free-lance work for Raymond Hood. Harrison served in World War I as a Navy ensign aboard a subchaser. After the war, Harrison attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts where he spent a year in the atelier of Gustave Umbdenstock. He was also a winner of a Rotch Travelling Scholarship in 1922. Harrison had a long-standing personal and professional relationship with Nelson A. Rockefeller which began while he was workig on Rockefeller Center. Rockefeller established the U.S. Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, where Harrison served as assistant coordinator in 1941 and director in 1945. Harrison won numerous awards, including the New York Architectural League's Gold Medal in 1936 and the American Institute of Architect's Gold Medal in 1967.

Scope and Contents

Architectural drawings, photographs, correspondence, notes, speeches, manuscripts, press releases, clippings, memoranda, printed material, job lists, curriculam vitae, contracts, articles, and other material related to Wallace K. Harrison's architectural projects. The collection also contains a significant amount of material regarding Harrison's position as director of the Office of Inter-American Affairs, director of planning of the United Nations Headquarters and biographical material. There are a total of 32 boxes of material of which 11 consist of photographs. Photographers include Wendy Barrows, Shirley Burden, George Cserna, Y[uzo] Nagata, and Ezra Stoller, among many others. There is also a collection of 148 art books that belonged to Harrison referred to as his "doodle books." A list of these books with brief descriptions of where Harrison drew in them is contained in the finding aid. Projects documented include Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Opera House, Rockefeller Center, Albany Mall (Empire State Plaza), United Nations, X City, ALCOA building, Corning Glass building, First Presbyterian Church, La Guardia Airport, Socony-Mobil building, Battery Park City, Radio City Music Hall, New York World's Fair (1939 and 1964), Institute for Advanced Study, National Academy of Science, Pahlavi National Library Competition, Oberlin College's Hall Auditorium, Pershing Memorial, Rockefeller University, Hopkins Center, The Anchorage, Avila Hotel, and numerous other buildings and residences.