Abe Feder was an architectural and theatrical lighting design engineer, practicing in New York City from the 1930s until the early 1990s. He was born on July 27, 1908 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and studied architecture at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, but left after his sophomore year. Feder worked briefly for the Goodman Theatre in Chicago before moving to New York City in 1930, where he began to establish his reputation as an innovative designer in such theatrical productions as Virgil Thompson's "Four Saints in Three Acts" and Orson Welles' "Dr. Faustus," the latter through the WPA's Federal Theatre Project. After World War II, he opened his own business, Lighting by Feder, in New York City and began to light built structures in addition to stage productions, becoming one of the most prominent architectural lighting designers in the United States. His projects ranged in size from small urban apartments to international airports, with many related bulb and fixture designs that are now standards in the industry. Feder is recognized as a founder of the lighting design profession in the U.S. and wrote and lectured widely on the subject. Feder was appointed the first president of the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) and was named a Fellow of the Illuminating Engineering Society of America. Feder was also inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in New York City in 1996. He died in New York City on April 24, 1997.
This collection includes original and reprographic drawings, photographs, project files and office records documenting the professional life of architectural and theatrical lighting designer Abe Feder. Projects represented are primarily in the continental United States, with additional commissions in Canada, Puerto Rico, and Israel. Also included in this collection are substantial correspondence files and "data books" that record essential project information. Among Feder's best known architectural commissions were the lighting of the Prometheus Fountain and the GE/RCA building at Rockefeller Center, the Philhamonic Hall at Lincoln Center, and JFK Airport, all in New York City; also, the San Francisco Civic Center; the JFK Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.; several buildings for the 1967 World Exposition in Montreal; the University of Illinois' Assembly Hall; and the Israel National Museum in Jerusalem. As well, he received numerous commissions to light department stores, fashion shows, and other temporary events. Feder maintained close professional and social relationships with many noted architects, interior designers, and artists, including Max Abramovitz and Wallace Harrison; Cecil Beaton; Carson and Lundin; Emery Roth & Sons; Harper and George; Melanie Kahane; William Lescaze; Morris Lapidus; Loebl, Schlossman, and Bennett; Shreve, Lamb and Harmon; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Edward Durell Stone; Frederick P. Victoria; Welton Becket and Associates; and Wurster, Bernardi, and Emmons. A small portion of the records in this collection also document his lighting designs for such noted theatrical productions as "The Boy Friend," "Camelot," "Four Saints in Three Acts," "Grand Hotel," "The King and I," "Inherit the Wind," "My Fair Lady," "Night of the Iguana," and "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever."
This collection is available for use by qualified readers by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University. A portion of this collection is maintained in off-site storage and will be retrieved with advance notification only. For further information and to make an appointment, please call (212) 854-4110 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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