Gordon Bunshaft (1909-1990) received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was awarded the Rotch Travelling Scholarship shortly after graduation in 1935. Bunshaft used his scholarship to travel through Europe, where he sketched and photographed many sites of architectural significance. In 1937, Bunshaft joined the New York office of the young architectural firm Skidmore Owings & Merrill, taking a leave of absence between 1942 and 1946 to serve in the United States Army Corps of Engineers. After World War II, SOM was to become one of the most influential architecture, planning, and design firms in the United States. Bunshaft was named a partner in SOM in 1949, directing the New York office until his retirement in 1979. Bunshaft's impact on American architecture was largely in the arena of large-scale corporate architecture. In 1952, he completed the design of Lever House in New York City, a landmark of Post-War International Style glass curtain-wall skyscrapers. Among his other noted designs are the Chase Manhattan Bank in New York City; Connecticut General Headquarters in Bloomfield, Connecticut; the Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut; the Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin, Texas; and the National Commercial Bank and Haj Terminal in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Bunshaft also received many awards, including the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the American Institute of Architect's Medal of Honor and election to the College of Fellows, and the National Institute of Arts and Letter's first prize in architecture (Arnold W. Brunner Memorial). Bunshaft was also a passionate art collector, maintaining long-standing friendships with such notable artists as Henry Moore and Jean Dubuffet, and serving as a member of the Fine Arts Commission in Washington, D.C. and as a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Bunshaft died in New York City in 1990.
Organized into the following series: I. Correspondence; II. Clippings; III. Photographs-Projects and Personal; IV. Photographs-Projects and Personal, Bound; V. Photographs-Rotch Travelling Scholarship; VI. Publications-General Periodicals; VII. Publications-SOM News; VIII. Postcards; IX. Oversize and Miscellaneous-Thesis, Oral History, Artifact, Audiovisual, Awards, Diplomas, Photographs; X. Architectural Drawings-Rotch Travelling Scholarship; XI. Architectural Drawings-General.
Arrangement: I. Correspondence: general correspondence is chronological, the remaining correspondence is by subject title or name of correspondent; II. Clippings: by subject and thereunder chronological; III. Photographs - projects and personal: project photographs are arranged chronologically and personal photographs are arranged by subject; IV. Photographs - projects and personal (bound): not arranged; V. Photographs - Rotch Travelling Scholarship oversize: arranged by geographic location; VI. Publications - General Periodicals: chronological; VII. Publications - SOM newsletters (bound): chronological; VIII. Postcards: not arranged; IX. Oversize and miscellaneous - artifact, audio visual, awards, diplomas, photographs: not arranged, X. Architectural drawings - Rotch Travelling Scholarship: arranged by accession number; XI. Architectural drawings - general: arranged by accession number.
This collection contains correspondence, photographs, clippings, postcards, newsletters, student and architectural drawings, and other materials mainly related to Gordon Bunshaft's projects and activities while employed as a partner in the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The dates of the material span 1909-1990, with bulk dates of 1950-1979. Most of the information regarding Bunshaft's architectural projects is in the form of photographs and clippings. A portion of the collection documents Gordon and Nina Bunshaft's residences in Manhattan and East Hampton, New York. In addition to documenting his projects, the collection contains photographs and correspondence between Bunshaft, his wife Nina, and family and friends, including artists Jean Dubuffet and Henry Moore.The bulk of the drawings in the collection consists of sketches, rubbings and watercolors that Bunshaft created while he was a Rotch Travelling Scholar in Europe from 1935 to 1936. Additionally there are drawings by Bunshaft for his residences in Manhattan and East Hampton, New York. Lastly, drawings that are not related to Bunshaft's student work include an abstract drawing, two drawings for a radio cabinet, and a sketch plan of a bungalow. All of these drawings are cataloged at the item-level in Columbia's Library Online Catalog (CLIO) and can be found by searching by the accession numbers as given in this finding aid.