Calendar of Events

Thu 01.23.2014

Practice Post-50: Edgar Tafel in New York


When: 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM THURSDAY, JANUARY 23

Where: At The Center   

Well known for his role as Wright apprentice and historian, Edgar Tafel also maintained a long productive architectural practice in New York. This event celebrates the opening of the Edgar Tafel archive at the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University and will introduce the archive to the architectural community. Speakers will discuss Tafel's two most prominent projects in post-1950 New York: the Church House for the First Presbyterian Church and the SUNY Geneseo campus. The program will also take place in Edgar A. Tafel Hall, named for a person who cared deeply about bringing people together to share ideas and good stories.

Janet Parks, Curator of Drawings and Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University
Tania Franco, Project Archivist, Edgar Tafel Archive
Kimbro Frutiger, Architect, Author, "Edgar Tafel's Religious Work: Design, Traditions, Ethics"
Caroline Zaleski, Author, "Edgar Tafel and SUNY Geneseo: Lessons from Frank Lloyd Wright"

Robert Silman, President Emeritus, Robert Silman Associates

Price: Free for AIA members and students; $10 for non-members

Speaker Profiles:
Janet Parks has been the Curator of Drawings and Archives at the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University since 1978, a period that coincides with the growing recognition of architectural archives. Under her curatorship, the archive has grown to 2 million items documenting the history of 19th and 20th century American architecture. Parks has worked on numerous exhibitions involving Avery collections, most notably the Guastavino Company, Max Abramovitz, and Ely Jacques Kahn and the Avery Centennial collection. Most recently, as part of the joint acquisition of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation archives by the Museum of Modern Art and the Avery Library, she organized and supervised the move of the Wright archives from Scottsdale to New York.

Tania Franco was the project archivist for the Edgar Tafel Archive, completed in mid-2012. Prior to coming to Avery Library, Franco worked at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal as part of the processing teams for the Ernest Cormier and the Arthur Erickson archives. She received her BA in Literature from York University in Toronto and her Master of Library and Information Studies from McGill University in Montreal. She recently became Archivist at the firm of Moshe Safdie and Associates.

Kimbro Frutiger is an architect and writer with twenty years of professional experience in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. He specializes in high-stakes projects, recently including the National September 11th Museum at the World Trade Center, the super-deep DUSEL physics facility in South Dakota, and urban planning for social equity in Brazil and India. Kimbro studied archeology at Amherst College and received an MArch from Yale University’s School of Architecture. Since 2000, he has researched and written about architectural design and professional culture in New York City during the 1960s and 70s for DoCoMoMo. He is preparing a book on this subject that will include a chapter documenting and critiquing Edgar Tafel's First Presbyterian Church House, one of the city's most enigmatic postwar buildings.

Caroline Rob Zaleski received her Master of Science degree in architectural preservation from Columbia University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

She is the author of the critically acclaimed Long Island Modernism 1930-1980 for W.W. Norton, an illustrated book, based on a survey of modern buildings for the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, known as SPLIA. In the book are chapters about SUNY Old Westbury and SUNY Stony Brook; thus, Caroline has done extensive research in to the early history of the SUNY system. For a chapter on Frank Lloyd Wright’s Rebhun house from 1937 in Great Neck, Caroline interviewed Edgar Tafel at his residence in Greenwich Village. He, as a young apprentice to Wright, engaged in some site management responsibilities for the building of the Rebhuhn house.

From 2006 to 2012, Caroline was the chair of the Preservation League of New York State Seven to Save Endangered Sites program, where she has worked to encourage the inclusion of applications relating to twentieth-century modernism and recent New York State history. A former medical journalist, Zaleski turned to preservation advocacy and the study of architectural history and preservation while she served on the Certificate of Appropriateness Committee for Landmark West! in Manhattan. She is the director of the Modern Long Island Survey for SPLIA. Her proudest “Save” was working with SPLIA to place the Edward Durell Stone–designed Conger Goodyear house in Old Westbury, Long Island, on the State and National Register and World Monuments Watch. She also led a successful campaign to raise awareness of and civic involvement in the preservation and repurposing of Eero Saarinen’s TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport.

Robert Silman, as president emeritus of the structural engineering firm he founded in 1966, has directed all phases of its operations. The firm divides its time evenly between projects of new construction, alteration, renovation and preservation with Mr. Silman contributing his knowledge in all structural materials. He has particular expertise in historic preservation, as evidenced by his work on Carnegie Hall, Fallingwater and The Museum of Immigration at Ellis Island. Silman has taught for more than 40 years at IAUS, Columbia, Yale and Harvard. He is a licensed professional engineer in 10 states.

In 2006 he received the New York Historic Districts Council’s Landmarks Lion Award, in 2009 the AIA New York Chapter Award for his accomplishments in the field of engineering and contributions in the built environment in the City of New York, in 2010 the New York Landmarks Conservancy Preservation Leadership Award and in 2013 the Harley McKee Award from the Association for Preservation Technology International.

He met Edgar Tafel while working on the first of the firm’s eleven Frank Lloyd Wright restorations – Wingspread – and they remained close friends until Edgar died in 2011. Edgar provided some valuable insights as well as many humorous anecdotes about the Wright legacy. One of Silman’s most satisfying projects was restoring and upgrading Edgar Tafel’s amazing Community House for the First Presbyterian Church. And finally, Silman worked with Edgar to achieve a lasting legacy by encouraging him to endow two chairs of architecture (at Cornell and Illinois), to endow the lecture hall at the Center for Architecture and to donate his archive to Avery Library at Columbia.

Organized by: Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University and AIANY Historic Buildings Committee

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