The Donald Olsen Collection spans the years 1941-1998 (Bulk dates 1952-1989) and includes documents created by Olsen while
working with Vernon DeMars and Joseph Esherick on Wurster Hall. The collection is organized into five series: Personal Papers,
Professional Papers, Faculty Papers, Office Records, Project Records. The collection is extensive and contains a wide range
of materials documenting Olsen's long career as an architect and professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His
career focused heavily on designing residences, of which many are well documented in this collection.
Donald E. Olsen was born in Minneapolis in 1919 to Clarence Edward and Thea Olsen. He married Helen Ohlson in 1944 and had
one son, Alan Edward Olsen. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from the University of Minnesota in 1941. He
won a scholarship to Harvard's Graduate School of Design but had to defer due to the outbreak and United States' involvement
in World War II. During the war years, Olsen found himself in Richmond, CA where he worked at the Kaiser Ship Yard designing
large manufacturing and office buildings as well as housing, railway systems, fire stations, and schools. Once the war ended
he obtained his Master's degree in Architecture from Harvard graduating in 1946. He continued his education doing post-graduate
work in England, studying civic design at the University of Liverpool in 1953 and the Philosophy of Science at the London
School of Economics, 1962-63.
57 Linear Feet:
14 Cartons, 18 Document Boxes, 5 Flat Boxes, 91 Tubes
All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from materials in the collection should be discussed with the
The Collection is open for research. Many of the Environmental Design Archives collections are stored offsite and advance
notice is required for use.