Finding Aid for the Victor Cusack papers, 1915-2005, bulk 1932-1989 0000125

Finding aid prepared by Jocelyn Gibbs and Chris Marino
The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
Architecture and Design Collection, Art, Design & Architecture Museum
Arts Building Room 1434
University of California
Santa Barbara, California, 93106-7130
April 16, 2014

Title: Victor Cusack papers
Identifier/Call Number: 0000125
Contributing Institution: Architecture and Design Collection, Art, Design & Architecture Museum
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 9.0 Linear feet (6 boxes and 1 flat file drawer)
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1940-1989
Date (inclusive): 1915-2005
Location note: Boxes 1-3/ADC - regular Box 4/ADC - oversize* Box 5/ADC - regular Box 6/ADC - oversize* 1 Flat File Drawer/ADC - flat files
Abstract: Victor Cusack is an American architect who spent most of his professional career in the offices of William Pereira & Associates, Pereira and Luckman, and Charles Luckman Associates. His papers contain biographical material, including his unfinished memoir about his year with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin and photographs taken during his time there. Also included are reports, printed materials, and drawings for assorted designs in his own practice, and for William Pereira, Pereira and Luckman, and Charles Luckman, as well as for Herzka & Knowles. Projects at Pereira for which Cusack had design responsibility include the California Federal Savings and Loan Building in Los Angeles, the Lockheed Corporation headquarters in Calabasas, the west terminal (now called the Bradley terminal) for the Los Angeles International Airport, and several master plans and reports for other projects,including campus planning for the University of California, Santa Barbara.
creator: Charles Luckman Associates.
creator: Cusack, Victor A., b. 1915
creator: Hertzka & Knowles, Architects.
creator: Luckman, Charles
creator: Pereira and Luckman, Architects, Engineers and Planners.
creator: Pereira, William L., 1909-1985


Open for use by qualified researchers.

Custodial History note

Gift of Victor Cusack, 1999, 2010, 2013.

Preferred Citation note

Victor Cusack papers, Architecture and Design Collection. Art, Design & Architecture Museum; University of California, Santa Barbara.

Biographical/Historical note

Victor Aubrey Cusack was born December 13, 1915 in Ramsey, Bergin County, New Jersey and grew up in Yonkers, Westchester County, New York, where he was raised from early childhood by his maternal grandparents. He graduated from the Charles E. Gorton High School in North Yonkers in 1934.
A publisher and editor of a financial newspaper, his grandfather expected Victor to work for him on Wall Street rather than attend college. Victor, however, had independently taken the New York State college entrance examinations and passed with honors. His objective was to apply to Yale University’s architectural school, a five-year course. Encouraged by Yale’s offer of a scholarship and a tuition loan as well as assistance in finding employment in New Haven, Victor entered Yale in September 1938.
Victor’s course at Yale was interrupted in 1936 when a lecture by Frank Lloyd Wright, in which he condemned the beaux-arts principles of architecture then taught at Yale, inspired Victor to try to join Wright’s apprenticeship program in Wisconsin. Victor approached Alexander Woollcott, the critic and playwright and a confidant of Wright, for advice. Woollcott wrote to Wright on Victor’s behalf and encouraged Victor to personally show up at Taliesin, Wright’s workshop in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Wright accepted Victor for a work study apprenticeship.
Victor apprenticed with Wright from October 1938 through December 1940, working kitchen and farming assignments in Wisconsin and assisting with building work at Taliesin West, Wright’s desert camp then under construction outside Phoenix, Arizona. Wright sent Victor to New York City in December 1940 to help install the retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Cusack’s unfinished memoir about Taliesin includes photographs of his time with Wright and the Fellowship and describes several of the apprentices he met there, including Edgar Tafel, James Thompson, and George Nelson.
By the end of 1940, worried about his eligibility for the war draft and by Yale’s threats to foreclose on his tuition loans if he did not return, Cusack knew that he would have to leave Taliesin and return to Yale. Wright, understanding Victor’s predicament, wrote to Dean Meeks at Yale asking for leniency, but to no avail. Wright’s wife Olgivanna Lloyd Wright, irate when told of Victor’s decision to leave, demanded that Victor leave immediately. On Christmas day 1940, Victor found himself on a Greyhound bus from Phoenix bound for New York, with fare offered by the architect George Nelson who was at Taliesin preparing a special issue of Architectural Forum on Wright’s work. Back in New York, Cusack found that working as a draftsman at the U.S. Navy submarine base in New London, Connecticut would give him an exemption from the draft for a year. There he was put in charge of designing camouflage for ships and submarines. At the end of 1941 Victor enlisted in a U.S. Navy program that allowed him to return to Yale University and complete work for his degree.
While he was in Connecticut, Victor worked briefly for James Thompson, a wealthy architect based in Hartford who Victor had met at Taliesin and for whom he designed two residential projects in Connecticut: the Ellsworth house in Simsbury and the Jack Ross house in West Hartford.
In 1942 Victor decided to volunteer for the U.S. Navy Construction Battalion (C-Bs) but instead was assigned to U.S.N. officer training school in New York City, followed by radar training in Florida. When the war in the Pacific was over and Victor was able to resign his commission, he found himself in San Diego and decided to stay in California and move to Los Angeles, determined to work for the best modern architect in the city.
He applied repeatedly to the office of William L. Pereira (1909-1985), finally obtaining an interview after the socially prominent father of a friend asked Pereira to see him. Cusack joined Pereira’s office in 1949 and worked for Pereira for 28 years. He has said that he owed a lot to Pereira’s influence, more so than to Frank Lloyd Wright, his first architectural mentor.
Cusack described Pereira as a “great verbal conceptualizer,” who liked to explore the conception for every project with his designers. over long discussions. Cusack worked on many of Pereira’s commissions, including the prize-winning design for the Union 76 Oil Company office headquarters in Los Angeles, 1949-1950, and the Los Angeles International airport (LAX), beginning circa 1953.
In 1950, Pereira invited Charles Luckman (1909-1999) to join the firm. Luckman, trained as an architect at the University of Illinois where he and Pereira first met as classmates, had become a noted businessman at a young age and was the president of Lever Bros. in New York City when Pereira approached him. Luckman brought considerable marketing skills and business contacts to the partnership. Cusack worked as Senior Designer for Pereira and Luckman in Los Angeles until 1954, when he was sent to Spain for the firm to work on designing U.S. air force bases near Malaga. During his time with the firm, Cusack also worked as chief designer on the master plan for the UC Santa Barbara campus, where Pereira and Luckman were the consulting campus architects.
Cusack returned to the United States from Spain at the end of 1955 and decided to try to find work in San Francisco, a city he preferred to Los Angeles. Between 1956 and 1959, Cusack was the chief designer for the established city firm, Hertzka & Knowles. While there he designed offices, stores, and hotels in San Francisco and Oakland.
Charles Luckman and William Pereira held increasingly different views about the future of the firm and ended their partnership in 1959. Luckman was interested in building a large international practice; Pereira wanted to maintain a firm that allowed him to meet with all his designers around a single table. Pereira was social; Luckman was a businessman. Luckman bought out Pereira’s interest in the firm, including the Los Angeles airport commission and rights to all other projects that were then in the Pereira and Luckman office.
Subsequently, Luckman established Charles Luckman Associates and convinced Cusack to return to Los Angeles to join the firm as Chief Designer. Though reluctant to leave San Francisco, Cusack agreed and only after he returned to L.A. did he realize that he would be one of several “chief” designers. Cusack worked for Charles Luckman Associates from 1959 to 1964. During that time he designed, among other projects, an American Pavilion for the 1964 World’s Fair in New York (unrealized), and the California Federal Savings and Loan headquarters building at 5900 Wilshire Blvd.
Always eager to travel, Cusack left Luckman in 1964 for a yearlong sabbatical and world trip. When William Pereira was awarded the commission to design an international terminal (now called the Bradley terminal) for the Los Angeles airport in 1965, he asked Cusack to rejoin him and serve as chief designer for the project. Cusack created the initial design concept, which included the idea of having the wide-bodied planes dock at the west face of the terminal. Although this idea was not implemented then, it finally was incorporated in a recent remodeling. Due to the complexity of the project, the international terminal became a joint venture with other architects, including Welton Beckett and Paul R. Williams. To Cusack’s dismay, Daniel Dworsky was made the design partner for the joint venture, which he headed with Pereira. In compensation, Pereira assigned Cusack the Lockheed Company Headquarters project to design and supervise.
In 1971, Cusack took a leave of absence from William L. Pereira’s office to travel, returning in 1972 to become Vice-President of William L. Pereira Associates. Cusack retired from the firm only after William Pereira died in 1985. Scott Johnson and William Fain, both of whom had worked in Pereira’s office, founded the successor firm of Johnson Fain.
In 2005, Cusack, Harrison Lewis Whitney, and William A. Schoneberger wrote and published the book, A Symbol of Los Angeles: The History of the Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport 1952-1961. In February 2012 the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Modern Committee designated Victor A. Cusack a Modern Master.

Scope and Content note

The Victor Cusack papers span 5 linear feet and date from 1932 to 2004. The collection contains personal papers relating to Cusack's biography and training as an architect, including his apprenticeship with Frank Lloyd Wright (1938-1940), his service during World War II (1945-1946), and some family history. Photographs and an unfinished memoir document Victor Cusack's experience with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin. The bulk of the collection documents Victor Cusack's architectural design work in his individual practice and as a designer for William Pereira, Pereira and Luckman, and Charles Luckman. Several projects record his work as chief designer for Herzka & Knowles in San Francisco, during 1957-1958.
Materials include clippings and publications, master plan reports, printed ephemera and publications, photographs, drawings and sketches, and a video recording. Photographs, sketches, and an unfinished memoir by Cusack describe his time at Taliesin. Publications, manuscripts, a sketch, ephemera, and a video recording relate to William Pereira as an individual and as an architect and planner.
Master plan reports, architectural drawings and sketches, and photographs document projects on which Victor Cusack worked, in his individual practice and his work as designer in other firms, primarily for William Pereira and Charles Luckman. Design projects include houses, corporate headquarters, and commercial buildings, as well as planning studies for the Los Angeles International Airport and designs for the West Terminal (now called the Bradley Terminal) at LAX. Also in the collection is the book that Cusack wrote about the history and design of the LAX Theme Building. Other significant designs represented in the collection include the Lockheed headquarters building in Calabasas, the Union Oil Center building, the California Savings and Loan Building in Los Angeles, and designs for the University of California at Santa Barbara.
The papers are arranged in three series: Series I. Personal papers; Series II. Papers relating to William Pereira; and Series III. Architectural projects.

Related Archival Materials note

Welton Becket papers, Architecture and Design Collection. Art, Design & Architecture Museum; University of California, Santa Barbara.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Cusack, Victor A., b. 1915
Cusack, Victor A., b. 1915
Falkenstein, Claire, 1908-1997
Hertzka & Knowles, Architects.
Luckman, Charles
Pereira and Luckman, Architects, Engineers and Planners.
Pereira, William L., 1909-1985
William Pereira Associates.
Architectural drawings
Photographic prints
Reprographic copies


Personal papers 1915-1947

Physical Description: 1.0 Linear feet (2 boxes)

Scope and Contents note

Series includes biographical documents, professional resume, and clippings and photographs relating to Cusack, as well as Cusack family research. Cusack's interest in Frank Lloyd Wright and his year at Taliesin with Wright (October 1938-December 1940) are documented in photographs, drawings of nature and landscape, and an unfinished Taliesin memoir. His war service is documented through the Buccaneer newsletters, which Cusack was in charge of producing while he was stationed with the U.S.S. Pittsburgh.
Box-folder 1/1

Resume of architectural practice 1944-1993 ca. 1993

Box-folder 1/2

Biographical materials n.d.

Box-folder 1/3

Biographical photos and clippings ca. 1934-1960

Box-folder 1/4

Birth certificate (photocopy) 1915

Box-folder 1/5

Cusack family research

Scope and Contents note

Cusack-Hooke family tree, coat of arms, and family history.
Box-folder 1/6

Yale University diploma 1943

Box-folder 1/7

California State Board of Architectural Examiners certificate 1952

Box-folder 3/1

AIA, certificate of membership 1957

Box-folder 1/8

Appointment to Naval Reserve, certificate 1944

Box-folder 1/9

Buccaneer Newsletters 1944-1945

Scope and Contents note

Cusack was editor and illustrator, while stationed with the U.S.S. Pittsburgh.
Box-folder 1/10

Taliesin memoir: manuscript excerpt, “F. L. Wright at Yale” 1994

Box 2

A Taliesin memoir 1935-1940 circa 1994

Scope and Contents note

145 pp of text, photographs, and supporting material for Cusacks unfinished account of his time at Taliesin West and the significance of F. L. Wright in his training as an architect.
Box-folder 3/2

Photographs taken at Taliesin East (Wisconsin) and Taliesin West (Arizona) 1938-1940

Scope and Contents note

Photographic prints by Cusack, Edgar Tafel, and others of people and the sites.
Box-folder 1/11

Drawings done at Taliesin 1938-1940

Scope and Contents note

Cusack’s drawings from nature.
Box-folder 1/12

“Guggenheim redux,” Journal of the Taliesin Fellowship, #12 1993-1994

Scope and Contents note

Article recounts the F.L. Wright exhibition at the Guggenheim, on which Victor Cusack worked for Wright, building models.
Box-folder 1/13

“Two Retrospectives in Retrospect,” Victor Cusack, in Journal of the Taliesin Fellowship, #13 1994

Box-folder 1/14

Cusack materials from David Russell

FlatFile folder 1

4 watercolor drawings 1934, 1937, 1954

Box-folder 1/15

Notes on evenings with Claire Falkenstein 1991-1993, 1997, 2004

Physical Description: 8.0 Items (8 pages)

Scope and Contents note

Typed notes that document Victor Cusacks's conversations with Claire Falkenstein about her work and career, that took place between 1991 and 1997, the date of his last conversation with her. Some of the notes were typed up years later, presumeably from his hand-written notes.

Papers relating to William Pereira ca. 1970-1985

Physical Description: 0.25 Linear feet

Scope and Contents note

Includes manuscripts and a drawing by William Pereria, and printed materials about him as well as a video recording of interviews with people who knew him.
Box-folder 1/16

Pereira manuscript on planning

Scope and Contents note

Edited typescript and original handwritten mss.
Box-folder 1/17

Clippings and printed materials about Pereira

Box-folder 1/18

Manuscript draft of Pereira's speech to the FAA, Washington, D.C. 1971

Box-folder 1/19

Time magazine issue with Pereira on cover Sept. 6, 1963

Box 1

“Legacy of William L. Pereira”: VHS recording by Bronya Pereira

Scope and Contents note

Includes interview with Victor Cusack, among others.

Architectural projects 1941-1989

Physical Description: 4.5 Linear feet (1 box and 1 flat file drawer)
Box-folder 1/20

Ellsworth house (Simsbury, Conn.): elevation 1941

FlatFile Folder 2

John G. Ross house (West Hartford, Conn.) 1941

Box-folder 1/21

Small Hillside House, by Victor Cusack, published in Arts & Architecture 1946

FlatFile folder 3

Jack Lieberman house, Los Angeles 1946


Emory Eckley house (Catalina Is., Calif.) 1947

Box-folder 6/1

Plan and perspective mounted on board

FlatFile folder 4



Community Hospital (Hobbs, New Mexico), 1950 1950

Scope and Contents note

Clipping: William Pereira, architect; Victor Cusack, designer.

Robert Rissman house (Los Angeles, Calif.) 1948-1949

Scope and Contents note

3 drawings on trace, mounted on separate boards: perspective, plan, revised plan and perspective.
Box-folder 6/3

Proposed Cairn Lea School for Joan Landon (Brentwood, Los Angeles, Calif.): plan and elevation 1949

Box-folder 1/23

Jack Lear house (Los Angeles, Calif.) 1949-1950

Box-folder 1/23, FlatFile folder 5

Elevations 1949


Photograph 1950


J. S. Hutchison house (Chatsworth Park, Calif.) 1950, 1975

Physical Description: 4.0 Linear feet
creator: Cusack, Victor A., b. 1915
creator: Pereira and Luckman, Architects, Engineers and Planners.
FlatFile foler 6

Blueprints 1950

Physical Description: 18.0 Items
Box-folder 1/24-25

Photographs 1950, circa 1975

Scope and Contents note

Photographs from 1950 and color photographs and real estate brochure from circa 1975. Designed by Victor Cusack for William Pereira Associates.
Box-folder 1/26

El Paso Medical Center (El Paso, Tx) 1951, 1953

Scope and Contents note

William Pereira, architect; Victor Cusack, designer: photograph of drawing and printed page with text and construction photos.
Box-folder 1/27

Farmers and Stockmen’s Bank (Phoenix, Az.) 1950-1951

Scope and Contents note

William Pereira, architect.
Box-folder 1/27

Photographs, clippings and printed ephemera circa 1951

FlatFile folder 7

Drawings 1950-1951

Box-folder 1/28

Library for Cal Tech (Pasadena, Calif.) circa 1952

Scope and Contents note

Photographs of drawings: William Pereira, architect; Victor Cusack, designer.
Box-folder 1/29

Los Angeles Music Center proposal, printed ephemera circa 1952

FlatFile folder 8

S. M. Lazarus house: perspective and plan 1952

Box-folder 1/30

Union Oil Center building (Los Angeles, Calif) 1952-1957

Scope and Contents note

Photographs, drawings, notes, printed ephemera.
FlatFile FF

Communications City master plan 1953

Scope and Contents note

Plan on tracing paper, mounted on board. Cuscak was the designer for Pereira & Luckman.
Box-folder 1/31

Edwards Air Force base, master plan circa 1953

Scope and Contents note

Printed ephemera. Cusack was the project captain for this project.
Box-folder 1/32

Resort development master plan, Malaga Spain 1954-1955

Scope and Contents note

Photographs of preliminary design: site plan and perspectives.

Mrs. V. E. Stephens house (Malaga, Spain) circa 1955


Hertzka & Knowles assorted projects circa 1956-1958

Scope and Contents note

Printed ephemera and photographs of projects on which Victor Cusack worked for this San Francisco firm: Lakeshore Towers Apartments (Oakland, Calif.); Study for Standard Oil Company office building (San Francisco); New Store for Moore’s (San Francisco); Market Street office annex to Crocker Bank (San Francisco); C2 building at Skidmore; America-Fore Insurance Co. building.

Proposed Lake Park Hotel and apartments (Oakland, Calif.) circa 1957

Box-folder 1/34

Photograph of rendering

FlatFile FF

Drawing for Lake shore tower apartments


Pacific Employers Insurance Co. (San Francisco, Calif.) circa 1957

Box-folder 1/35

Photographs of renderings

FlatFile FF


FlatFile FF

Van Ness Avenue Hotel and office building (San Francisco, Calif.) circa 1957

Box-folder 1/36

University of California Santa Barbara Master Plan: photograph of rendering circa 1959

Box-folder 1/37

Hotel-Office complex (Los Angeles, Calif.): photographs of renderings circa 1960

Scope and Contents note

Charles Luckman is architect of record. Cusack was the designer.
Box-folder 1/38

Los Angeles County Museum of Art 1960, 1987

Box-folder 1/38

Agreement for architectural services between William Pereira and Museum Associates (LACMA) 1960

Box-folder 1/39

Victor Cusack's letter regarding LA TImes review 1987

Scope and Contents note

Clippings and manuscript of Cusack's letter to the Los Angeles Times, regarding the review by the LA Times critic, John Dryfuss of the architectural design by Pereira.

Community Design Hospital competition entry 1961

Box-folder 1/40

Photographs and printed ephemera

Scope and Contents note

Photographs of model, clipping, and grand prize certificate of award for design by Victor Cusack, Ronald Meza and James Moore.
FlatFile FF

Large format photographs of model

Box-folder 6/4

California State Governor's Residence competition entry 1962

Scope and Contents note

Drawings on two boards: elevations, plans, and sections

World's Fair, American Pavilion (Flushing, NY) 1962-1964

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Victor Cusack for Charles Luckman and Associates.
Box-folder 1/41

Photographs of drawings, sketches, printed ephemera

FlatFile 14

Drawings and sketches

FlatFile 15

Union Oil Company building (Los Angeles, Calif.) 1963

Scope and Contents note

Elevation, bird's eye view perspective, and site plan (reproductions). Victor Cusack chief designer for William Pereira. Project later credited to Charles Luckman Associates when Luckman bought out Pereira.
Box-folder 1/42

Santa Monica Airport complex 1963

Scope and Contents note

Photographs of model. Charles Luckman, architect; Victor Cusack, designer.

California Federal Savings and Loan headquarters (Los Angeles, Calif.) 1965

Box-folder 1/43

Photographs and printed ephemera

FlatFile 16



Lockheed Corporation headquarters 1963, 1979, 1983

Scope and Contents note

William Pereria & Associates, Victor Cusack designer.
Box-folder 1/44-45

Photographs and printed ephemera

Box-folder 3/3

Photographs of drawing and model

FlatFile 17


FlatFile 18

Study sketches 1979

Box-folder 1/46

Chapman College Natural Sciences building (Orange, Calif.) 1968

Scope and Contents note

Printed empemera and photographs; William Pereira & Associates, Victor Cusack, designer.
Box-folder 1/47

Occidental College Administration and residence buildings 1968

Scope and Contents note

Printed ephemera and photographs; William Pereira & Associates, Victor Cusack designer.

TransAmerica building Annex (San Francisco, Calif.) 1975

Box-folder 1/48


FlatFile FF

Design book

Scope and Contents note

Photocopied drawings, photographs, annotations
Box-folder 1/49

Hollywood-Burbank Airport Master plan 1975

Scope and Contents note

Draft, final report; William Pereira & Associates
FlatFile FF

University of California, Irvine, Faculty Club 1977

FlatFile FF

University of Southern California, Hydrocarbon Institute 1979


Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Bulk, 1980-1982 circa 1954-2004

Box 4

Chronology of the Master Plan development circa 1980

FlatFile FF

LAX Terminal building schematic not after 1954

FlatFile FF

LAX West Terminal building original concept sketch circa 1955

Box-folder 1/51

West Terminal building circa 1980-1982

Scope and Contents note

Photographs and printed ephemera
Box-folder 1/52

West Terminal and Theme building circa 1980-1982

Scope and Contents note

Clippings, photographs, printed ephemera
Box-folder 1/53

Dana Goodyear, "Hotel California," profile of Paul Revere Williams in New Yorker

Box-folder 1/54

Accounts of the LAX Theme building

Scope and Contents note

Clippings and printed ephemera
Box 2

Victor Cusack and Harrison Lewis Whitney, "An Illustrated Account of the conception, development and construction of the Theme building, LAX" circa 2004

Scope and Contents note

Early manuscript for the book eventually published by the Flight Path Museum, 2005.

Publications circa 1960-circa 1990

Physical Description: 0.5 Linear feet (1 box)