Van Alen Institute Design Archive


Originally founded in 1894 as the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects, Van Alen Institute (VAI) has accumulated a significant archive of historical design material documenting the development of late 19th and early 20th century architectural education and practice. VAI's institutional records date from 1893 to 1994 and comprise 254 linear feet of material. Records include the Institute's founding documents, correspondence, trustee and design jury meeting minutes, financial documents, design competition programs, publications, and scrapbooks. The archive includes material from major figures such as Richard Morris Hunt, Robert William Ware, Whitney Warren, William A. Boring, and William Van Alen. These records were identified in 2007 and remain virtually unknown to design researchers, educators, and the public. The archive also includes drawings and photographs dating from 1904 to 1994, among them 1,730 original architectural drawings, complemented by 67 remarkable drawings from the organization's early history that were donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1980. Photographic material consists of over 200 albumen prints (1904-1908) and approximately 9,000 gelatin silver prints of student drawings. To date, VAI has completed preliminary processing and preservation of its visual material and cataloged one competition series, the Paris Prize in Architecture (616 original drawings and 891 photographs). The remaining 94% of the visual collection needs to be cataloged.


Cataloging Hidden Collections

Amount Awarded

Year Added



Van Alen Institute


  • Olympia Kazi

Collection Size

254 linear feet, 10730 objects

Date Range

1893 - 1994

Geographic Scope

Spans material from across the United States as well as countries such as Japan, China, Uruguay, Australia, Canada, Cuba, and the Panama Canal Zone.