The Environmental Design Archives (EDA) at the University of California, Berkeley received a $151,586 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Collections and Reference Resources Grant to organize, preserve, and make accessible materials generated by architect Cathy Simon and urban designer Karen Alschuler of the firm SMWM (Simon Martin-Vegue Winkelstein Moris).
While archival repositories have long been collecting architect’s records, there are few collections of significance that highlight the collaborative and innovative approach to design that is the trademark of Simon’s and Alschuler’s careers. Their work demonstrates that by championing user-centric design, environmental stewardship, and social equity, architecture and planning can bring people together, create communities, and nourish urbanity.
The records of SMWM are significant primary sources ripe for study in humanities disciplines, including the shifting relationships between urban studies and economics, geography and environmental science, design and gender, community and place, and sociology and landscape. The design approach taken by SMWM results in records that contain raw data about communities, local and national policy and economy, and design development, allowing scholars to explore the inner workings of large cities.
While other architectural archives often focus on traditional architectural design, this collection represents a unique social and cultural approach to design within the built environment.
The SMWM collection is comprised of project files and drawings, photographs, firm portfolios, born-digital design files, and models. Of special concern are the born-digital records on obsolete or proprietary removable computer media.
Completion of the grant-funded project will result in an electronic finding aid, disk images of all born-digital media, and collection-level bibliographic records made accessible through the Online Archive of California, the Environmental Design Archives web site, OCLC, and the UC campus library system. All materials processed in this project will be available for study on-site.
About the Environmental Design Archives: The Environmental Design Archives is a non-profit, self-supporting research unit housed in the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley. One of the largest archival repositories of its kind west of the Mississippi, the EDA holds more than 200 collections that document the work of the San Francisco Bay region’s historically significant architects, landscape architects, planners, and designers. The Archives is committed to collecting, preserving, and providing access to primary records of the designed environment.
About the National Endowment for the Humanities: Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.