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.
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.
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. 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.
Harrison's architectural drawings and papers are divided into two parts: Collection I (accession number 1981.001) and Collection II (accession number 1989.002). Both parts of the collection have their own finding aid but are bound together in a single volume. The drawings for both parts of the Harrison collection have been cataloged separately in RLIN VIM. Collection I contains 2,050 drawings and Collection II contains 365 drawings. The first part of Harrison's papers (1981.001) consists of material that was given to Avery Library by Mrs. Harrison in 1981. The second part of his papers (1989.002) consists of material that was borrowed by Victoria Newhouse for her book titled Wallace K. Harrison, Architect. This borrowed material was removed from Harrison's papers before they were given to Avery Library. In 1989, when Newhouse's book was published, the material was given to Avery Library to be rejoined with the material from which it was removed. The material borrowed by Newhouse has not been interfiled with the first part of the collection because of the numerous printed references already made to the collection.
Publications: Newhouse, Victoria. Wallace K. Harrison, Architect. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1989.
Wallace K. Harrison architectural drawings and papers, Dept. of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.