Heffernan Design Archives

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  Georgia Institute of Technology
Moved from College of Arch
itecture to Archives in GT Library & Information Technology
   
       
 

 

 

 

  Introduction  

 

 

On May 14, 1984 at the College’s Awards Ceremony of Beaux Arts Week, the Association for the College of Architecture honored Paul Malcolm Heffernan by declaring him the College’s first Honorary Alumnus. Following that, the student body bemedaled him as the Philip Trammel Shutze Distinguished Alumnus (Hons.) for 1984.

Paul M. “P.M.” Heffernan’s career in architecture began when he entered the Architectural Engineering Program at Iowa State University, earning his Bachelor’s degree in 1929. He was then awarded a fellowship to the Foundation for Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Lake Forest, Illinois, where he won the Conde’ Nast Fellowship in American Architecture, a nine month traveling fellowship. Returning to Iowa State University, he earned his Master of Science in Architectural Engineering in 1931. He remained at Iowa State as an instructor until 1933 when he entered Harvard University, completing his Master of Architecture degree in 1935. While at Harvard he won three awards - the Eugene Dodd medal for drawing and watercolor, the Julia Amory Appleton Fellowship, and the Frederick W. Sheldon Fellowship, which allowed for European travel. After placing first in the 28th Paris Prize of the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects of New York, he became an eleve (Premiere Classe), at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France, 1935 - 38.

His teaching career at the then Georgia School of Technology began on his return from Paris in 1938 as an Associate Professor in the School of Architecture. He became professor in 1944. Upon the retirement of Professor Harold Bush-Brown in 1956, he was made Director of the School of Architecture, which became the College of Architecture in 1975. The years from 1938 were a period of expansion and change in the school. There was a rapid increase in the student body after World War II. The building for the school, designed by Bush-Brown, Gailey and Heffernan, was opened in July 1952. A six-year curriculum was adopted in 1972 - 73. In 1975, the fourth-year class was affiliated with the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and since then, more than 200 Georgia Tech students have enjoyed their senior year in Paris, France. Also in 1973, in response to the need for increased knowledge about the built environment, a research program was started which, at the time of his retirement in 1976, had attained an unusual size and funding level for an architectural school.

P.M.’s professional career began in 1933 with the Iowa State Parks and Iowa State Planning Boards. In Atlanta, he collaborated with Bush-Brown and Gailey, Architects, from 1938 to 1944. In 1944, the firm became the Bush-Brown and Gailey, Architects, R. L. Aeck and P. M. Heffernan, Architects, 1946 to 1954. P.M. was the chief designer for the expansion plans for the Georgia Tech Campus, including the first Research Building, Smith, Glenn and Tower Dormitories, the Old West Stands of the Grant Field, the Bradley Building, The School of Textile Engineering, the School of Architecture, the Price Gilbert Library, and the State Highway Laboratory. His buildings have been published in Progressive Architecture, Architectural Forum, Architectural Record, I’Architecture Francise, and Vitrun. In addition, P.M. was also a member of many academic and professional societies, including Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi, Tau Sigma Delta and Sigma Upsilon fraternities. He was a Fellow of the International Institute of Art and Letters, Lindau, Germany, the Royal Society of Arts, London, and the American Institute of Architects. He became a member of the AIA in 1945, and was elected a Fellow in 1957.

P.M.’s many responsibilities to the architectural profession and the community were recognized by several citations from the AIA in 1955, from the College of Fellows for the “Effective Teaching of Architectural Design”, and from the Atlanta Chapter in 1965 for “Outstanding Educational Service to the Profession.” He was also cited by the College of Engineering, Iowa State University for “Professional Achievement” in 1973. Throughout his 38 years at the Georgia Institute of Technology, P.M. Heffernan had a remarkable influence on his students. He instilled them with his own love for architecture through discussion, shared explorations of architectural problems and through his own work. His teaching of architectural design was in the most encompassing and in the purest sense. In the drafting room, he quietly demanded and encouraged high performance. Problems were expected to be logically solved but with beauty that came from clarity of thought; details were to be addressed and served to support major intent; and the presentation of ideas was clear, simple and expert. Discussions in the wee hours of the morning at a nearby all-night cafe followed the late night sessions at the School. Over coffee, he delineated on napkin and table covering the basic principles of the student’s project and alluded to historical precedents.

Just as this view of architecture was shaped by his appreciation of the building as a pure art form, his view of architectural education was also viewed on this love for architecture. Within his students, he sought to develop their skill in logical reasoning, to impart to them an understanding of the compositional and constructional principles, and to instill in them a desire to achieve the exciting and unusual solution. His recognition that architecture was the manifestation of varying cultural influences on unchanging basic principles permitted a faculty of varied viewpoints and interests yet with a common focus. His adherence to that belief guided the school not only through periods of growth but also through the difficult controversies.

The soundness of P.M.Heffernan’s attitudes is adequately attested by the buildings designed by his students, the sound teaching of many of them, and the professional dedication of all of them. These careers too are a testimony of P.M.’s immense contribution to the architectural education and to Georgia Tech. During these last years, P.M. has spent several quarters actively teaching in the Paris Program. He participates in many events of the College, maintains an active interest in all affairs of the College, and is a still familiar figure around the building. And, he still begins his day at noon! 

(From the College of Architecture, Georgia Tech - Awards Ceremony of Beaux Arts Week: dated May 14, 1984)

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

  Publication and Search Engine  

 

 

Over the last few years, the total number of items within the Heffernan Archives has grown substantially, numbering now in several thousands. Therefore, in addition to documenting the above drawings, we have also started to develop a Web-based Browser Interface, anticipating the need for the future search and access of Heffernan Design Archives items in Electronic Format. This Web-based Browser Interface system would allow for quick searching and retrieval of electronic images of the drawings and photographs in the archive. The interface is based on a one to one relation between each article or image and the web page that supports them. These pages would also include exhaustive bibliographical notes, other descriptions about the image, and links to downloading large resolution files for the purpose of high quality printing (at local and remote locations). This web-supported application will be attached to the whole collection or parts of the collection, such as the case of acquiring a compact disc containing a section of the archive. The application will run in a search engine mode therefore accessing the indexed list of all single pages.

The advantages of this interface are clearly many. First, accessing electronic copies would conserve the real drawings and photographs within the archives, while potential researchers may easily access their electronic versions. At a second level, this system shall provide an efficient way to search for particular drawings and images by using attributes such as author, building, date, location, medium, etc. Depending on the accessibility strategy to be agreed upon, the search can be either confined to local computers on campus or distributed via compact discs, or alternatively it can be performed directly on the Internet provided that the whole collection is posted for such use. At a third level, creating copies of original materials will be relatively easy and may be performed directly from the scanned files by downloading high resolution scans and printing them on color printers thus avoiding difficult and often risky photo-copying and scanning of the original drawings, a very large number of which are extremely fragile. At a fourth level, owing to the posting of the collection on the Internet, it will be easier to advertise and disseminate material to scholars in virtually any academic location.

2. The forthcoming publication entitled, “The Legacy of P.M. Heffernan,” is centered on the works and projects of Paul M. Heffernan, renowned Atlanta architect, educator and director of the College of Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology  (1956 - 76). It seeks to explore his enormous legacy, through critical essays viewing his work in the context of architectural developments in the post-war period in America, his several surviving buildings on the Georgia Institute of Technology Campus, the achievements of his students and how these have shaped the city through their built projects, and an exhaustive review of the vast collection of his drawings and papers stored at the Heffernan Archival Center of Design located at GeorgiaTech.

The book is viewed as an appropriate addition to the field of research concentrating on the contributions of mid-century architects towards the creation of building ensembles in the United States, particularly those dealing with large university campuses. While individual buildings by architects from this era have survived, it is indeed rare for a major ensemble of buildings - such as the one at GeorgiaTech - to remain largely intact until present day. Heffernan formative years of training in the strong Beaux Arts tradition, and his gradual adaptation to the trends of Modernism prevalent in his time, make for a significant contribution to the field of knowledge.

The publication is expected to make an important impact on serious architectural historians, in addition to students and general readers interested in architectural history, and the significant architects of the southeastern United States. It shall also perform the crucial function of informing these readers and serious researchers of the myriad of possibilities which exist through the careful sifting of material at the Heffernan Design Archives at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The manuscript of “The Legacy of P.M. Heffernan” is currently under preparation and we expect it to be completed in Summer 2002 (to be published Fall 2002). It is co-edited by a select team of architectural historians engaged in research at the Doctoral Program, Georgia Institute of Technology. These include the renowned architectural historian Dr. Rob Craig, and doctoral candidates Samiran Chanchani, Manu Sobti and Ermal Shpuza.

(Updated - April 2004, Ermal Shpuza & Pegah Zamani)

 

 

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