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Huxtable (Ada Louise) papers, 1859-2013 (bulk 1954-2012)
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Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Other Finding Aids
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Archival Materials
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Ada Louise Huxtable papers
    Date (inclusive): 1859-2013 (bulk 1954-2012)
    Number: 2013.M.9
    Creator/Collector: Huxtable, Ada Louise
    Physical Description: 239.5 Linear Feet (433 boxes, 27 flatfile folders. Computer media 17.151 GB [5,533 files])
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles 90049-1688
    Business Number: (310) 440-7390
    Fax Number: (310) 440-7780
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Metadata Rights:
    Abstract: The Ada Louise Huxtable papers contain the writing and research of the outspoken architecture critic and ardent advocate of the contemporary preservation movement. Huxtable wrote 11 books and worked as a dedicated architecture critic at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. This collection is comprised of correspondence, typescripts, photographs, awards and research files spanning her career as a writer and one of the most important voices in the field of architectural criticism during the second half of the twentieth century.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record   for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in English.

    Biographical/Historical Note

    Ada Louise Huxtable (née Landman, 1921-2013) was considered the most important voice in architectural criticism over the last 50 years. Born and raised in New York City, she graduated from Hunter College in 1941 and subsequently studied architectural history at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts. Ada Louise married the industrial designer L. Garth Huxtable in 1942. Because of their related interests, the couple frequently collaborated throughout their marriage. Together they worked on the design of tableware and serving pieces for New York's Four Seasons restaurant, and Garth's influence was also evident in her sporadic writing about the field of industrial design and through the numerous photographs he took to illustrate her writing. In 1946 Huxtable was hired by Philip Johnson to work as an assistant curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). She left MoMA in 1950 upon receiving a Fulbright Scholarship which provided her the opportunity to travel to Italy and research Italian architecture and engineering. She also received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1958 to support her research on the structural and design advances of American architecture. While Huxtable wrote freelance articles during the 1950s for several journals including Arts Digest, Progressive Architecture and the New York Times Sunday Magazine , her writing career was truly established with the publication of her first book based on her Fulbright research, Pier Luigi Nervi (1960). The New York Times hired Huxtable to write about architecture full time in 1963 when their art critic Aline Bernstein, the wife of Eero Saarinen, felt that she could no longer cover architecture without a conflict of interest. These unique circumstances placed Huxtable as the first ever dedicated architecture critic for an established daily newspaper.
    Huxtable's writing on architecture focused on the importance of its humanistic meaning and artistic power; she often reserved her displeasure for projects that lacked civic engagement. With her writing occasionally appearing on the front page of the New York Times , Huxtable made architecture a more prevalent part of the public dialogue. Her approachable and irreverent or sarcastic style made for astute reviews of the city's built environments that were appreciated by readers and architects alike. Her hold on public opinion was so great that it was commemorated in New Yorker cartoons in 1968 and 1971. Her popularity and success can be attributed to a manner of treating architecture holistically, not solely considering a building's formal and aesthetic features, but also examining the social relations and material conditions of its particular context. She was an advocate for preservation over urban renewal and her essays championed the conservation of many important landmarks in New York and elsewhere in the country, eventually influencing the establishment of the Landmark Preservation Commission. In 1970 she received the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism, the first year the category was established. Three years later Huxtable joined the newspaper's editorial board. Huxtable remained at the New York Times until 1982, when she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. A bibliography of her work at the New York Times is available here . Following her departure from the New York Times Huxtable committed herself to conducting research, publishing writing and advisory work. Subsequently, in 1997, Huxtable became the architecture critic for the Wall Street Journal where she contributed work until 2012.
    Throughout her extensive career Huxtable published 11 books, some of which were curated selections of essays from her New York Times oeuvre compiled to explore specific themes such as Architecture Anyone? (1986), On Architecture (2008) and Will They Ever Finish Bruckner Boulevard? (1970). Huxtable was particularly adept at seeing how different groupings of her published articles expressed various themes. She also wrote several long-form books including The Tall Building Artistically Reconsidered (1985), Unreal America (1997) and Frank Lloyd Wright (2004).
    Over the years Huxtable became such an important figture in the world of architecture, design and preservation that she was invited to participate in numerous juries and committees. She served as a juror for the Pritzker Architecture Prize and Praemium Imperiale of Japan and served as a member on the Architectural Selection and Building Design Committees for the Getty Center and Getty Villa, as well as many others. Huxtable was regularly lauded for her work in criticism and preservation activism and received numerous distinguished awards and honorary degrees. Her contributions to the fields of architecture criticism/writing and preservation are indelible.

    Other Finding Aids

    Ada Louise Huxtable's New York Times bibliography can be found here .

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers. Audio visual materials and digital files are unavailable until reformatted.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Ada Louise Huxtable papers, 1859-2013, bulk 1954-2012, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2013.M.9.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired in 2013.

    Processing History

    Laura Schroffel processed and cataloged the collection under the supervision of Ann Harrison from 2013 to 2014. Laura Schroffel processed born digital content betweeen 2017 and 2019. Files require further processing before access copies can be made available.
    Laura Schroffel added an accretion, box 433, to the collection in 2020.

    Related Archival Materials

    The Getty Research Library also holds the L. Garth Huxtable papers 1932-1983, Special Collection accession number 2013.M.2.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection chronicles the work of the esteemed writer and architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable. The Huxtable papers provide a comprehensive record of the evolution and accomplishment of her extensive writing career. But Huxtable's research papers, which were integral to her writing, also serve as documentation of the shifting landscape of architectural design, planning and urbanism in America and the world during the second half of the 20th century.
    Series I contains correspondence and email records comprised mostly of letters to Huxtable extending requests for her coverage of a specific site or building, advocating the preservation of certain buildings or to comment to her on a previously published article. Included in this correspondence are letters from architects who felt compelled to pen their agreement or disagreement with what she had written about other architects, and sometimes themselves. All of these letters constitute a record of the popular reception of modern and contemporary architecture as well as the professional discourse on both new buildings and preservation in the latter half of the 20th century. Other correspondence includes scheduling and work requests between Huxtable and her colleagues. Huxtable corresponded with numerous architects, politicians and scholars including Richard Meier, John Lindsay, Philip Johnson, Moshe Safdie and Walter Muir Whitehill.
    The material in Series II is writing by Huxtable comprised of typescripts for journal articles, books and lectures. Huxtable often kept drafts of earlier versions of her work with corrections and improvements in her hand, as well as the research, illustrations and related correspondence for each project. The bulk of this series is almost a complete archive of clippings from Huxtable's contribution to the New York Times , including her editorials, which often did not attribute her as author. This series reveals that Huxtable's journalistic process was a practice of patience, and she often waited for other critics to place their stories on a building before she formalized her own opinion. Along with all of Huxtable's papers for her published works, Series II also contains the writing and research for The Architecture of New York: A History and Guide which comprises a large portion of this series though Huxtable only completed one of five volumes for the publisher. Other incomplete writing projects found in Series II include the foreword and research for her book on ranch house style and research for a book on extreme architecture, which were both unpublished.
    Series III contains architect research files that Huxtable maintained, with documentation spanning the careers of some of the most prominent architects of the 20th century. The files represent her habit of meticulously saving all materials related to a particular architect or firm such as press releases and brochures, biographical/firm files, announcements, typescripts or drafts of essays, clippings or entire issues of journals, letters, slide carousel lists, and sometimes plans. This series is rich in photographs, as Huxtable always requested original photography from architects and never relied on copy prints. Some of Huxtable's most robust files are for Tadao Ando; Norman Foster; Frank Gehry; Herzog & de Meuron; Johnson & Burgee; Le Corbusier; Richard Meier; Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; Renzo Piano; Eero Saarinen; Skidmore Owings and Merrill; and Minoru Yamasaki.
    The rest of Huxtable's research files are in Series IV. This series contains research on subjects of interest to Huxtable and often relate to themes explored in her published writing. The research files focus on subject matter related to geographical locations internationally, nationally, and with a substantial portion devoted to New York City. Other particular locations of interest to Huxtable were Boston, Washington, DC, and Great Britain. It is in this series that research on design, planning, preservation and urbanism are more thoroughly explored. Files are typically comprised of clippings, but sometimes also include photographs, plans, official reports and promotional materials.
    Series V contains papers regarding Huxtable's participation on juries and advisory committees. Because of Huxtable's prodigious and respected critical writing career she was invited to be a member of several honor societies celebrating artists of letters. She was also invited to participate on advisory committees and councils for cultural institutions embarking on new architectural design projects, selecting architects, awarding prizes in architectural excellence, or shaping architectural scholarship. Huxtable's impact in her field was so great that often organizations that had awarded her prizes asked her back to participate in the selection of future prize winners, such as the MacArthur Prize and the Guggenheim Fellowship. Files typically include correspondence, meeting minutes, institutional reports, architect submissions, travel itineraries, expenses and sometimes certificates or medals. This series also contains papers and recordings from Huxtable's speaking engagements.
    Series VI is comprised of Huxtable's personal papers including the substantial collection of awards and honors that she received. These honors include diplomas and certificates (often large format), academic hoods, medals, three-dimensional awards and commemorative objects. Huxtable received more than 33 honorary degrees during her long career as well as the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, Pulitzer Prize, MacArthur Award and various honors from the City of New York and the American Institute of Architects. This series also includes clippings from articles and interviews about Huxtable, publicity materials, ephemera, Huxtable's annual calendars and heavily annotated address book, research resources, papers regarding her retirement from the New York Times and some of her personal art. Series VI also contains the bulk of Huxtable's photographs including images from (national and international) trips and of her residences, documenting the household settings and changing environs that the Huxtables shared during their life together.
    Finally, Series VII describes the extent of the born digital media in Huxtable's collection. This series describes the media at the aggregate level while individual files are described more specifically in other series of the finding aid. Filenames have also been added to notes throughout the finding aid in order to disambiguate between other content on shared media. Information regarding media labels, file counts and size, as well as identified file format types are found in Series VII. The digital materials have been preliminarily processed but are unavailable until fully reformatted. Contact reference for reformatting.


    Organized in seven series: Series I. Correspondence, 1949-2012; Series II. Writing, 1934-2012; Series III. Architect files, 1886-2012; Series IV. Research files, 1859-2012; Series V. Advisory committees, juries and speaking engagements, 1889-2012; Series VI. Personal papers, 1912-2013; Series VII. Digital media, 1980-2012. Born-digital materials are integrated into their corresponding series based on content. The original order of the files is retained when viewed through the provided links.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Lindsay, John V. (John Vliet)
    Johnson, Philip, 1906-2005
    Whitehill, Walter Muir, 1905-1978
    Safdie, Moshe, 1938-
    Yamasaki, Minoru, 1912-1986
    Foster, Norman, 1935-
    Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig, 1886-1969
    Le Corbusier, 1887-1965
    Piano, Renzo
    Saarinen, Eero, 1910-1961
    Andō, Tadao, 1941-
    Gehry, Frank O., 1929-

    Subjects - Corporate Bodies

    Wall Street Journal (Firm)
    Johnson & Burgee
    Richard Meier & Partners
    Herzog & de Meuron
    New York Times Company
    Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

    Subjects - Topics

    Architectural criticism
    Architecture -- Conservation and restoration
    Architecture, Modern -- 20th century
    Architecture -- Designs and plans
    Architecture, Postmodern

    Subjects - Places

    Washington (D.C.)
    New York (N.Y.)
    Boston (Mass.)

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Gelatin silver prints -- 20th century
    Color photographs
    Hard disks
    Color slides
    Compact discs -- 20th century


    Huxtable, Ada Louise