Archival Collections
Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library

Percival Goodman architectural records and papers, 1929-1989 

Goodman, Percival,
Phys. Desc: 
46 document boxes; 6 manuscript boxes; 5 print boxes
Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library
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Biographical Note

Percival Goodman, 1904-1989"architect, interior designer, planner, teacher, author and critic, and artist and illustrator, began a seventy-year career in architecture at age thirteen as an apprentice to his architect uncle. A winner of the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects' 18th Paris Prize in Architecture in 1925, he studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. returning to New York in the late 1920s profoundly affected by the work of Le Corbusier and other European modernists. In the 1930s he began his longstanding commitment to teaching, and became an important early contributor to American modernism through his work in architectural design, theory and criticism. The leading designer of synagogues in the post-World War II period, hew was a pioneer of modern religious architecture and in the use of modern art in a religious context.". "Goodman is well recognized as a theoretician of urban planning. He is the co-author of the highly regarded Communitas (1947, new editions in 1960 and 1990), which has been translated into Japanese, Spanish and Italian. Written with his brother, the social critic and author Paul Goodman, and illustrated with his drawings, this classic work analyzes a variety of modern city planning solutions and presents three original proposals or 'paradigms' for theoretical communities. In his book The Double E (1977), Goodman developed his social concerns and visionary thinking, focusing on the relationship between ecology, economy and planning. His sixty years of writing also includes articles for professional journals, book reviews, letters to editors, texts for government publications, lectures and symposia, as well as numerous unpublished manuscripts, such as his translation and adaptation of Auguste Choisy's L'Histoire de l'Architecture.". "A respected teacher, Goodman taught design and planning at Columbia University from 1946-1972, when he was appointed professor emeritus. He closed his architectural office in 1979, but continued to work as a design consultant. In his last decade he also undertook several theoretical and critical projects combining drawing and text, including 'An Illustrated Guide to Utopia" and 'A Direction for Post-Modern Revivalism'." -- Study Guide to the Percival Goodman Collection, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library / prepared by Joy Kestenbaum.

Scope and Contents

Percival Goodman (1904-1989) was an Americam architect, teacher, urban planner, artist and writer. In a career that spanned more than sixty years, Goodman achieved renown as one of the most prolific synagogue architects in the United States and was instrumental in the development of a critical discourse around the building of modern religious architecture. The collection consists of project records, drawings, models, photographs, slides, professional correspondence and contracts, articles and unpublished manuscripts, teaching and lecture notes and personal and professional memorabilia, such as architectural licenses and certificates, as well as articles and clippings about his work. The Goodman Collection contains the records of some sixty years of a prolific career in architecture, urban planning and theory (1929-1989). The collection consists of drawings, models, photographs, slides, professional correspondence and contracts, articles and unpublished manuscripts, teaching and lecture notes and personal and professional memorabilia, such as architectural licenses and certificates, as well as articles and clippings about his work. Included are photographs and records of his early work and projects; competition entries from all periods of his career; planning studies that Goodman undertook, including those he supervised as Professor of Design and Urban Planning at Columbia University's School of Architecture, as well as graduate student projects. A major component are the files of Goodman's post-World War II jobs (1946-79), primarily religious, institutional and domestic work, both built and unexecuted; this material contains a large collection of photographs as well as other documentation, primarily for the sixty-some synagogues that Goodman designed. The organizing of the Goodman papers required the integration of two separate collections. In 1979, after he had closed his office, Goodman donated a considerable part of his professional records to the University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center. The second collection, which had remained his possession, he willed to the Avery Library. As a result of preliminary work in assessing and organizing the latter material, the University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center agreed to return their Goodman Collection so that it could be consolidated, catalogued and then deposited at Avery Library. (However, since Avery does not have a circulating slide library, Goodman decided to give the slide collection of his religious work to the Jewish Museum.) Because of the return of the Wyoming material, the organization and cataloguing of the Goodman Collection became a more complicated project than had been originally anticipated. In addition, during the organizing of the collection, additional drawings, photographs and manuscripts were located. As some of this material was undated, incorrectly dated, unlabelled or mislabeled, the necessary research was undertaken in an attempt to properly identify and date the contents of the collection before its transfer to Avery Library. The collection series are as follow: Series I: Personal Material and Professional Memorabilia Includes photographs, biographical information, exhibition fliers, press releases, publications, clippings, office brochures, professional associate material, and other background material related to PG. Series II: Projects and Office Job Files, 1925-1989 Projects have been arranged by building type, then state, city and name of client. Original drawings or copies of drawings for some of these projects are housed in the Architectural Drawings series. The series is made up of 12 subseries. Series III: General Correspondence Correspondence is arranged chronologically. Included in these files are original letters, memos or carbon copies (cc:) and photocopies of letters sent to PG, as well as carbon copies, thermofax and photocopies of PG's letters and memos to others. This is not a complete listing of the correspondence in the PG Collection. Some letters and memos relating to specific jobs, projects and publications and the bulk of the Columbia University-related correspondence are located in those respective files. Series IV: Columbia University, School of Architecture Included are PG's Columbia University files which contain correspondence and miscellaneous course material, primarily from 1960-1972. Other items, such as reports and photographs that were determined to be Columbia University material or student projects, were added to these files. Correspondence and reports for urban planning projects undertaken with Columbia University affiliation and/or sponsorship, with PG as Project Director or Coordinator, are also included. Teaching and course notes, particularly for PG's course on Utopian Communities, are housed with Manuscript Material, PG's Lecture & Course Notes. Also included in the series is miscellaneous material such as catalogues and photographs, papers & reports, probably for or related to specific courses taught by PG, for which no files had previously existed. Finally, the series also contains files related to Urban Planning Projects with Columbia University Affiliation or Sponsorship. These project files are arranged chronologically. Additional correspondence for these projects may be found in the Columbia University Files or the General Correspondence files. Some Columbia University-related correspondence and material can be found in the files for Urban Planning Projects & Redevelopment Proposals which PG undertook without Columbia University sponsorship or direct affiliation, including the proposals for Morningside Heights and West Harlem, 1964, and Manhattanville-on-Hudson, 1964-65. Series V: Manuscripts, Articles, Lectures This sereis is made up of manuscripts, notes, tearsheets, offprints, photocopies, journals & conference transcriptions. The majority of the writings are by PG, however, some material was written by PG and his brother Paul Goodman, and at times by other individuals. Also included are articles on PG and his works. The series contains 10 subseries. Series VI: Lantern Slides & Glass Color Transparencies Contains 41 lantern slides and 3 glass positive color transparencies. All but 6 slides are of PG’s work. Series VII: Architectural Drawings Contains original renderings, sketches and working drawings for PG’s projects. To be consistent with the job files, drawings have been arranged by building type, then state, city and name of client. The series contains 6 subseries.