Some sad news for fans of architecture in New York. The NY Times has reported that Norval White, author of the famed AIA Guide to New York City, has passed away this week. The book, which was first published in the late-’60s and is soon to be on its fifth edition, has long been considered the end-all-be-all for information about building in the city. White was also a committed activist for preservation in the city, both through his role as an educator, in his books, and working with groups to save the city’s landmark buildings. Here’s a bit about his AIA Guide and its importance:
The guide made architecture accessible to a broad public by discussing buildings in context rather than treating them in isolation. And it did not require readers to know the difference between a volute and a voussoir.
It celebrated the vernacular background buildings that are as much a part of the cityâ€™s character as its best-known landmarks. By establishing the provenance of these structures, the guide introduced readers to a legion of second-tier architects who had done first-rate work. It also raised the profile of the American Institute of Architects and its New York chapter, which sponsored the guide.