Welcome to the ICAA Library

Tucked away amidst the hustle and bustle of midtown Manhattan, the ICAA Library is a quaint haven for scholars in the fields of classical architecture and art. A rare gem stocked with a wide variety of resources, the Library supports the ambitions of the ICAA’s students, instructors, and affiliated professionals. Researchers beyond the Institute’s community are also encouraged to schedule an appointment and to take advantage of the Library’s holdings. The Library is very user-friendly: the catalogue is available online, and ICAA staff members are always happy to assist.

Reserves of the ICAA Library

The ICAA Library is not your average library. For starters, visitors conduct their research in the presence of sculpture groups comprising the Institute’s Historic Plaster Cast Collection. Studying the technical elements of the Parthenon, while admiring casts taken from its glorious frieze, is surely a one-of-kind experience, and one not easily replicated elsewhere. The remaining wall space is devoted to the display of student work—rewarding traces of zealous labor that can only further inspire, intrigue, and charm any visitor. What greater impetus is there to persevere in one’s own scholarship than to be constantly motivated by the achievements of others?

A capital from the Historic Plaster Cast Collection

Moreover, the Library has been the recipient of great generosity on the part of some of the world’s leading architects and artists, including Dick Reid and the Taylor Harbison Estate. Gifts from these sources, in addition to the Library’s other rare books and manuscripts now out of print, are just a few more highlights of the treasure trove that is the Institute’s Library. As a niche frequented by artists, scholars, designers, instructors, and intellectuals, the Library is at the very heart of the ICAA’s vibrant, learned culture. To be sure, visitors will leave enlivened, having acquired so much more than a simple book.

To schedule your visit to the ICAA Library, please contact education@classicist.org or call 212-730-9646 x 116.

The Rare Book Collection

Reserves of the ICAA Library

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The American Institute of Building Design Welcomes the ICAA to Annual Conference

The vast majority of new, single-family homes in this country are designed by residential building designers represented by the American Institute of Building Design (AIBD).  With a large number of building designers producing traditional homes, the AIBD saw a need for educational programs to help its members become versed in the language of classical architecture. In 2002, the AIBD and Institute of Classical Architecture, under the leadership of architectural designer and educator Christine Franck,  partnered to bring a comprehensive program of study in classical architecture.

To continue the relationship between the two organizations, the AIBD invited ICAA fellows and architects Sheldon Kostelecky and Martin Brandwein to its annual conference in Providence, Rhode Island on August 6, 2015 for an all-day workshop. Sheldon started the morning with a brief overview of the ICAA and its educational programs.


Martin followed with a lecture on the classical moldings and orders. During this session, participants learned to draw the Tuscan order and apply it to a temple front sketch problem.


In the afternoon, Sheldon presented a comprehensive overview of classicism in American residential design.  His lecture started with the early colonial architecture of New England and concluded with the New Classicism movement of today.

The ICAA would like to thank AIBD’s Executive Director, Steve Mickley, and conference organizer, Karen Kassik-Michelsohn, for providing support for this program.

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Summer Studio in Classical Architecture | Week 4

The ICAA has successfully celebrated the culmination of the 2015 Summer Studio in Classical Architecture. While much of the final week of the program was devoted to students’ completing their studio design projects, several guest talks and site visits rounded out the experience, as well.

Design project progress

On Monday (July 13th) students completed work on ink wash renderings of the Tuscan Order. In the evening–instructors, ICAA members and friends enjoyed a reception with the students in recognition of the opening of ICAA’s new Cast Hall which features pieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the collection of master carver Dick Reid.

Students at Columbia University

On Tuesday, the students visited Avery Library at Columbia University. Janet Parks, Curator of Drawings and Archives, shared original works including sketchbooks, schematic designs, detail studies, presentation renderings, and construction drawings by Harold Van Buren Magonigle, McKim Mead and White, Mott B. Schmidt, Charles Platt, and others. Andrew Alpern, architect and historian, discussed Avery’s collection of early architectural drawing instruments. Students spent the remainder of the day looking at and drawing buildings by McKim Mead and White on the Columbia campus, with Clay Hayles and David Rinehart.

Inside Avery Library

Early architectural drawing instruments

Luke Hughes, furniture designer and spokesman for the American Hardwoods Export Council, led a class on hardwoods and related building crafts.

Finishing final projects

Throughout the week, students worked into the evening hours to complete drawings for their projects. On Saturday, the last day of the Summer Studio, students presented their final designs for a Market Hall in Burnham Square.

Project presentation

A considerable thank you to all of the instructors and guest lecturers for sharing their knowledge and expertise with this extraordinary group of emerging architects and designers. A special thank you to Stephen Chrisman and Michael Mesko for coordinating the curriculum. Summer Studio 2015 was an incredible success and a transformative experience for all.

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Summer Studio in Classical Architecture | Week 3

Students spent the third week of the Summer Studio in Classical Architecture exploring classical architectural design and composition through ongoing development of their studio design projects; continued studies in wash rendering; exploration of traditional materials and the architectural arts; and with on site study of exemplary achievements in classical design throughout New York.

Students at work

David Genther, assisted by Danielle Murphy, guided students through an ink wash rending of the Tuscan Order to investigate the qualities of light and shade on classical form.

Wash Rendering with David Genther

Guest lecturer presentations focused on the practice, history and theory of classical architecture. Bill Westfall, of the University of Notre Dame, highlighting themes from his new book, “Architecture, Liberty and Civic Order”, discussed the role of imitation in architectural practice; the relationship between architectural and urban elements; and the value of drawing upon history and tradition in building just, beautiful and sustainable cities.

Design Project underway

Christine Franck of the University of Colorado provided historical context on the resurgence of education in classical architecture and a survey of contemporary classical and traditional architecture and urban design.

Visits to the offices of Ferguson and Shamamian, and Gil Schafer helped to forge links between theory, concepts and practice. Mark Ferguson and Stephen Chrisman provided insights into the design process and the business of architecture essential to professional practice. Mickey Benson and Mark Pledger of Gil Schafer Architects walked through a series of design projects exemplifying the firms design methodology and use of precedent in creating new residential architecture reflective of regional character .

Ferguson and Shamamian’s office

EverGreene Architectural Arts gave a series of tutorials in their workshops on architectural restoration, conservation, architectural ornament, plasterwork and painting. Adrian Taylor and a team from Hyde Park Mouldings discussed architectural plaster and gave a demonstration in methods for making and laying plasterwork. Students had an opportunity to try their hand at Venetian plaster.

Evergreene Studios

Hyde Park Mouldings class with Adrian Taylor

Making and Laying plasterwork

Field studies throughout the week reinforced concepts introduced in lectures and the design studio. Architectural historians Francis Morrone and Matthew Postal introduced students to important classical buildings on the Upper East Side and lower Manhattan. Metropolitan Museum of Art curators Amelia Peck, Danielle Kisluk-Grosheide and Carlos Picón, shared their expertise on the period rooms of the American Wing; English rooms by Robert Adam and John Sanderson in the European galleries; and Greek & Roman antiquities .

Field trip with Francis Morrone

A field trip to significant homes and landscapes in the Hudson River Valley capped off the week. Richard Hampton Jenrette, founder of Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, gave a personal tour of Edgewater House built in 1825. The trip concluded with a tour of nearby Montgomery Place by museum associate Lauren Bailey.

Edgewater with Richard Hampton Jenrette

Throughout the week and into the evening hours students were busy advancing development of their design projects in anticipation of the final week.

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Master Class

Peter’s Reflections
A monthly column by ICAA President, Peter Lyden

Summer Studio students in front of Edgewater

Over the last four weeks, our Summer Studio Driehaus Scholars have learned from some of New York’s greatest treasures, including brilliant visionaries, historic buildings, and priceless museum collections. Last Saturday, all three of these forms of inspiration converged, as our students visited Edgewater with the estate’s private owner, Richard H. Jenrette.

Edgewater Estate

Dick gave an unforgettable master class on classical architecture, the decorative arts, furniture, and landscape design. He shared his passion for reinstating Edgewater to its original prominence, while incorporating a touch of his dignified, individual taste. His approach to caretaking is an exhibition of true historic preservation, continually improving the estate while remaining true to its original character.

Dick Jenrette

Dick emphasized to the group the importance of the collaboration between the architect, interior designer, and landscape gardener in creating a unified result. This idea was solidified by our history lesson on the important alliance between architect A.J. Davis, and A.J. Downing, the “Father of American Landscape Architecture,” as well as Edgewater’s owner at the time, Robert Donaldson. Their partnership produced Edgewater’s brilliant harmony between the interior, the exterior, and the landscape.

The interiors of Edgewater

Dick shared fascinating stories about his treasured collections and his travels around the world to acquire original furniture pieces and paintings for Edgewater’s interiors. We also learned that he continually adds new pieces and updates his gardens to help Edgewater remain, tastefully, au courant.

The interiors of Edgewater

The students’ enthusiasm for classical architecture and their genuine appreciation of Dick’s encyclopedic knowledge and tireless efforts to restore Edgewater were infectious. Not only was I deeply inspired by the experience, but Dick was energized like I have never seen him before. I imagine that seeing the interest, passion, and talent of the next generation of classicists was a thrilling experience.  It was an unforgettable day for everyone involved, and I feel confident that the impact of Dick’s master class will continue to echo long into the future.

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An Interview with ICAA Summer Studio Students

As the ICAA’s four-week, immersive Summer Studio in Classical Architecture is coming to a close, we sat down with three students to hear their thoughts on the program:

Interview with Kelly Umutoni

Favorite activity/lecture?
Lecture on urbanism with Mike Watkins

Is it different than what you expected?
It’s a lot more rigorous than I thought.

What skills have you acquired?
Being able to understand space and how to organize it and proportion well and relate to it. I think that’s really important to understand before the design begins.

How’s the design project going?
Good. When they first told us we were going to do an Esquisse in two and a half hours, I didn’t believe it was going to be possible. But, we’ve come really far.

Have they provided sufficient guidance?
Yes, the lecturers especially have helped a lot to get to the final design.

Have you hand-drafted before?
No. The first perspective we did the other day in class was my first hand-constructed perspective. Yes, I like it better than the computer. It helps me understand how things are put together better.

Most transformative experience?
Getting to do the office visits are really cool. We forget about the whole other side to Architecture school which is the business side, the professional practice.


Interview with Sasha Pokrovskaya

How have you been enjoying the program?
Absolutely loving it. The program is excellent. I only wish it could be stretched out into an extra week!

Favorite activity/lecture?
I’ve enjoyed several of the lectures, especially the ones with Professor Westfall architecture as a civic act, New Urbanism with Mike Watkins and measured drawing with George Suamarez Smith. I’ve loved being able to study the theory of a design element and then to be able to go into the city and see those principles in use. The lectures on materials have been very insightful as well.

Has the program changed your thought process?
This program has not changed my thought process as much as confirmed my design instincts and interests. The professors have been very helpful. I’m really glad I’m here and would recommend the program to all. 


Interview with Jack Duncan

I’m Jack Duncan. I’m from Charleston, South Carolina. I went to the College of Charleston, and I studied Historic Preservation and Art History with a concentration in Architectural History. I’m here because I’m testing out the ideas of classical architecture and my pursuit of architecture. I’m applying to the University of Notre Dame in the fall for Graduate School, so I thought this would be a nice intro to classicism. Everything we’ve done has been extremely intensive, extremely informative. It’s nice that there’s so many people that are at the top of the classicism game teaching us. We can trust them. All of the people we’ve had lectures from are also at the top of academia concerning classical and traditional architecture, Richard Economakis, Bill Westfall, Christine Franck, all just very heavy hitters in the practice. So I’m grateful that I get to do this. I come from Charleston, which is a very traditional city. The city is of a different scale and proportion than New York. If I wasn’t from Charleston, I think I’d only yearn more for an opportunity like this to come in contact with classicism and the things we’re studying here.

The most advantageous thing is seeing working architects at the professional practice visits. Seeing how things happen and learning about them are very different.

The two architects I work for in Charleston are both from Notre Dame. The famous thing they say all the time is “Architects make drawings.” When they say that they laugh off the difficulty it takes to gain not only an Architect’s degree, but a classical Architect’s degree. There’s this paradigm of how you do things, how things fit together that we design off of that nobody knows. This experience has given me clarity on that. I know how things fit together now, the tectonics. They were blurry and fuzzy before. You know that incorporating a colonnade to the front of a building isn’t just like putting a stamp on an envelope. It has to fit and work tectonically. So the program is really clarifying tectonic structure in my mind. I actually understand in my mind now and move that from my mind to my hand and into my drawings.

My favorite event or activity or speaker has to be a three-way tie between Richard Economakis, Bill Westfall, and George Saumarez Smith. George Saumarez Smith was young, so he was amazing at connecting with us and helping us understand measured drawings and the process of sketching. Richard and Bill helped from a more academic approach, imparting their knowledge that they’ve acquired throughout their careers. Not that George didn’t do that as well. They just met us where we were skill-wise and knowledge-wise in different ways.

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