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Reyner Banham "Buffalo: The Industrial Heritage" course records

 Collection — Box: 1-4, Folder: 1
Identifier: 44-5-1133

Scope and Contents

The materials in this collection document "Buffalo: The Industrial Heritage", a class (DSN 495/595) taught by Reyner Banham in the summer of 1977. The class explored Buffalo's industrial buildings and documented their architectural history. Particular attention was paid to the Larkin Complex, where the administration building was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Photographs and notes from this class were used in an exhibition for the Larkin Day Seminar held in Hayes Hall in the early 1980s.

Topic folders include detailed information sheets about the contents, clippings, field notes, contemporary photographs, negative proof sheets, architectural drawings, and exhibit panels. Most photographs have complete description with address, date, and photographer.


  • 1904-1986
  • Majority of material found within 1977


Language of Materials

Collection material in English.

Terms of Access

The Reyner Banham "Buffalo: The Industrial Heritage" course records, 1911-1986 (bulk 1977), are open for research.


Copyright is held by the State University of New York at Buffalo, University Archives. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the University Archives before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Biographical Note

Peter Reyner Banham was born in Norwich, England in 1922. After working for the Bristol Aeroplane Company engineering department during World War II, Banham married his wife Mary on 16 August 1946. Banham conducted his architectural studies at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, where he earned a B.A. and Ph.D.

Banham became a respected commentator and critic of architecture through his writings in Architectural Review and by holding regular informal gatherings to discuss contemporary art and design. Banham's first publication, Theory and Design in the First Machine Age, also his Ph.D. dissertation, in 1960 began his professional interest in industrial architecture and its impact on society.

From 1966-1972, Banham worked at University College London as a lecturer, professor, and administrator. In 1976, Banham joined the University at Buffalo's School of Architecture and Environmental Design as chair of the design studies department. Buffalo, being a waning industrial city, was an ideal location to study the impact of industrial architecture. Using Buffalo as a resource, Banham published Buffalo Architecture: A Guide (1981) and A Concrete Atlantis (1986).

Banham left Buffalo in 1980 to become professor of art history at the University of California Santa Cruz, a post he held until 1987, when he was appointed to the prestigious Solow chair at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. Unfortunately, Banham also discovered he had cancer.

Banham died on 19 March 1988 at the University College Hospital in London. Reyner Banham was an influential and well-known figure in the architecture field, known for his direct and sometimes brisk style. A prolific writer, Banham was praised for his lucid and informative style that didn't bog the reader down in jargon or details.

Lyall, Sutherland . “Banham, (Peter) Reyner (1922–1988).” H. C. G. Matthew. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed. Ed. Lawrence Goldman. May 2008., Last viewed 4 January 2010.
"Reyner Banham dies in London." UB Reporter. 7 April 1988.


1.46 Linear Feet (3 legal manuscript boxes; 1 legal half box; 1 oversized envelope [11.5 x 15 inches])


Documents "Buffalo: The Industrial Heritage", a summer course taught by Reyner Banham in 1977. Contents include contemporary and historic photographs of Buffalo's industrial buildings (including the Larkin Complex) and field notes.


Original order and titles were maintained as much as possible.

Acquisition Information

The Reyner Banham "Buffalo: The Industrial Heritage" Course Records, 1904-1986, were transferred to the University Archives in January 2004 by Dorothy Tao, librarian at the Architecture and Planning Library. Some items were received later and added to the collection. This collection was originally filed as manuscript collection number MS 96, before being reassigned to University Records collection 44/5/1133.

Accruals and Additions

No further accruals are expected to this collection.

Related Resources

Reyner Banham's wife Mary deposited his personal archive of approximately 1500 35mm slides with the Architectural Association Photo Library (United Kingdom). Slides are arranged thematically, but no guide is available. About 200 of these images are available online.

Separated Materials

Three unrelated student reports included with the acquisition were removed.

Processing Information

Processed by Nathan Tallman, May 2009.

Finding Aid for the Reyner Banham "Buffalo: The Industrial Heritage" course records
Finding aid prepared by Nathan Tallman.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives Repository

420 Capen Hall
Buffalo New York 14260-1674 US
716-645-3714 (Fax)