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Guide to the Records of the Office of the University Architect/Joseph J. Roberto Collection
1928-1987
 RG 11.4  RG 11.4

Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY, 10012
(212) 998-2641
university-archives@nyu.edu


New York University Archives

Collection processed by Stephen Urgola.

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on October 24, 2011
Description is in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Content Note

The records of the Office of the University Architect/Joseph J. Roberto span the years 1928-1987, with the bulk of the material covering the period 1960-1987. These records delineate the activities of Roberto=s office and those of the Director of Planning and Supervising Architect, Martin Beck (1961-1966), whose office records Roberto assumed upon Beck=s departure. Primary correspondents include top university officials like the President, financial officers within the university, officials in the Plant and Properties office and other departments responsible for the school=s physical plant, deans and faculty members, architects, engineers, contractors and consultants, city and neighborhood leaders, and professional colleagues.

The collection documents one of the periods of New York University's most prolific physical expansion. During the 1960s the university erected a number of major structures at the Washington Square, University Heights, and other university centers, including Philip Johnson's Bobst library, I. M. Pei's University Towers, the Technology II Building, and the award-winning Warren Weaver Hall. Though New York University=s building program stalled in the 1970s as the school experienced a financial crisis (which necessitated the sale of the University Heights campus), several more modest projects were completed that decade and in early 1980s , such as the Hagop Kevorkian Center. The Roberto Collection illustrates these building efforts in great detail, documenting construction projects, alterations of extant buildings (including the renovations of historic buildings like the Washington Square North row houses), and proposed structures never ultimately built. Space planning for the university, one of Roberto's chief responsibilities, represents another major topic covered by the records.

The university's strategic plans for its physical layout are also revealed by this collection. For example, several files deal with Philip Johnson's unrealized arcade-style plan for the Washington Square Campus in the early 1960s. New York University=s building initiatives affected the surrounding neighborhoods, and consequently the records of the University Architect include material on issues like zoning and urban renewal. Also included are records relating to historic preservation and restoration activities (in which Roberto was deeply involved ) at NYU, in New York City, and elsewhere. Among Roberto's projects documented in the collection are the renovation of the Old Merchant's House and the rehabilitation of Washington Square Park.

Though the collection is most comprehensive in its coverage of New York University's physical growth after 1960, the year in which Roberto assumed the office of University Architect, it also contains some material related to initiatives undertaken from the 1920s through the 1950s, such as the construction of the Loeb Student Center. Documentation is most extensive through the late 1960s. The quantity of records is smaller for the years leading up to and following Roberto's retirement in 1977 (after which he worked on a consulting basis), but nevertheless provides a good picture of the university's building program in that period.

SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

SERIES 1: ADDRESS & TELEPHONE DIRECTORIES AND APPOINTMENT BOOKS 1965-1981 (Box 1) Includes Roberto's personal appointment and address books as well as institutional telephone lists and directories of NYU personnel.

SERIES 2: MEETING MINUTES 1961-1966 (Box 1) Includes minutes of meetings of committees and with administrators in which Roberto and Beck participated. Also contains minutes of meetings dealing with architectural and planning matters but which did not include Roberto.

SERIES 3: CORRESPONDENCE 1928-1968 (Boxes 2-5) Includes monthly chronological correspondence files for the Offices of the University Architect and the Director of Planning and Supervising Architect covering the period of the early through late 1960s, as well as correspondence organized by the offices' particular functions such as coordinating alterations and space allocation. Contains correspondence from architects and other building professionals offering their services to the university. Files organized by correspondent include correspondence between Roberto's and Beck's offices and university administrators, as well as internal and external communications among administrators. Also contains Martin Beck's correspondence with friends and professional associates, as well as a file of the correspondence of previous University Architect Fiske Kimball transferred to Roberto by administrator Frederick Knauth in 1974.

SERIES 4: PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS 1961-1986 (Box 5) Contains Roberto's correspondence with fellow members of architectural organizations. Includes files on the 1964 meeting of the Association of University Architects held at NYU

SERIES 5: FINANCIAL AND BUDGET FILES 1960-1973 (Box 6) Correspondence, Memoranda, tables, and charts detailing financing, fund raising, budgetary, and expense information for the university's physical plant and building program.

SERIES 6: PROGRESS REPORTS 1965-1970 (Box 6) Reports submitted by Joseph Schober of Plant and Properties Office, Structural Engineer Jules Gagnon, Plant Engineer R. K. Bedell and Construction Coordinator R. E. Rapp detailing the progress of construction and alteration and design projects at all NYU Centers. Also includes general project status listings.

SERIES 7: MASTER PLANNING AND SPACE ALLOCATION 1960-1972 (Box 7) Contains internal and external correspondence, memoranda, notes, news clippings, news releases, and meeting minutes relating to the comprehensive architectural programs for the Washington Square and University Heights centers, including the Philip Johnson plan for the former. Correspondents include university administrators, municipal officials and community leaders, and architects such as Philip Johnson and Richard Foster. Also includes correspondence, memoranda, notes, reports, charts, tables on space availability, requirements, and allocation at the Washington Square and University Heights centers.

SERIES 8: HISTORIC PRESERVATION AND HISTORICAL ACTIVITIES 1962-1985 (Box 8) Includes correspondence, memoranda, meeting minutes, notes, news clippings, brochures and other printed matter relating to New York City and NYU historic preservation initiatives, as well as material on the architectural history of the university and the city. Also contains records of historical activities such as the commemorations of NYU's sesquicentennial and the U.S. bicentennial.

SERIES 9: FORMS AND REFERENCE MATERIALS 1953-1977 (Boxes 8-9) Contains forms and guidelines relating to dealings with architects, engineers, and contractors. Also includes comprehensive city building laws and architectural reference publications.

SERIES 10: ROOM DATA SHEETS: WASHINGTON SQUARE & UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS 1962-1967 (Boxes 9-10) Comprises forms describing the features of rooms in buildings at the Washington Square and University Heights centers.

SERIES 11: BUILDING FILES: WASHINGTON SQUARE CENTER 1934-1987 (Boxes 11-24) Correspondence, memoranda, reports, minutes, charts, notes, drawings, news clippings, and printed matter relating to the designing, planning, construction, alteration, and space allocation for buildings of the Washington Square Campus and related topics, organized alphabetically by building or topic.

SERIES 12: BUILDING FILES: UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS CENTER 1947-1977 (Boxes 25-27) Correspondence, memoranda, reports, minutes, charts, notes, drawings, news clippings, and printed matter relating to the designing, planning, construction, alteration, and space allocation for buildings of the University Heights Campus and related topics, organized alphabetically by building or topic.

SERIES 13: BUILDING FILES: OTHER UNIVERSITY CENTERS 1946-1978 (Box 28) Correspondence, memoranda, reports, minutes, charts, notes, drawings, news clippings, and printed matter relating to the designing, planning, construction, alteration, and space allocation for buildings of the Graduate Business, Medical, Dental Centers, the Institute of Fine Arts, the Sterling Forest/University Valley complex, and other facilities and related topics, organized alphabetically by center or topic.

SERIES 14: BUILDING FILES: WASHINGTON SQUARE NEIGHBORHOOD AND NON-NYU PROPERTIES 1944-1986 (Box 29) Correspondence, memoranda, reports, minutes, charts, notes, drawings, floor plans, news clippings, printed matter relating to the Washington Square neighborhood and properties in New York City and elsewhere not owned by NYU. Records document renovation projects (such as that of Washington Square Park in the 1960s and 1970s) and historic restoration programs (such as the Old Merchant's House) in which Roberto participated. Also contains records relating to private architectural work undertaken by Roberto.

SERIES 15: ARCHITECT, ENGINEER, & BUILDER PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS 1958-1970 (Boxes 30-31) Brochures and promotional binders presented to the offices of the University Architect and the Director of Planning and Supervising Architect by architects, engineers, and contractors.

SERIES 16: OVERSIZE 1960-1982 (Boxes 32-33) Publications, drawings, photographs, plan books, and other material related to the buildings of the several NYU centers and other architectural projects.

Note: An "[O]" following a folder topic indicates the presence of related material within the Oversize series.

SERIES 17: BLUEPRINTS 1950-1978 (Boxes 32-33) Plans pertaining to NYU and Non-NYU buildings and properties organized into subseries: Washington Square Campus, University Heights Campus, Other University Centers, and Non-NYU Buildings, and arranged alphabetically.

Arrangement

The files are grouped into 17 series; 1: Address & Telephone Directories and Appointment Books; 2: Meeting Minutes; 3: Correspondence; 4: Professional Organizations; 5: Financial and Budget Files; 6: Progress Reports; 7: Master Planning and Space Allocation; 8: Historic Preservation and Historical Activities; 9: Forms and Reference Materials; 10: Room Data Sheets: Washington Square & University Heights; 11: Building Files: Washington Square Center; 12: Building Files: University Heights Center; 13: Building Files: Other University Centers; 14: Building Files: Washington Square Neighborhood and Non-Nyu Properties; 15: Architect, Engineer, & Builder Promotional Materials; 16: Oversize ; 17: Blueprints

Folders are generally arranged alphabetically.