A Short History of the ADC, Part 2

Click here for Part 1.

Sadly, David Gebhard died of a heart attack in 1996, leaving behind a wife and two daughters. Two years later, the first staff curator, Kurt Helfrich, was hired to continue the collecting and exhibition of ADC materials. Helfrich, an architectural historian and Certified Archivist, received his PhD from the University of Virginia. Building upon the acquisitions of the previous years, new collections included Walter White, Kenneth Wing, Jim Charlton, Victor Cusack, as well as the collected papers of David Gebhard. In addition to acquiring physical collections, Helfrich received grants to digitize large portions of the Schindler and Irving Gill collections in 2006. Some of the new collections acquired in the early 2000s included Barton Myers, Edward Killingsworth, Maynard Lyndon, and Rex Lotery. Emphasis on local architects continued with the acquisitions of Frank D. Robinson, Richard B. Taylor, and the firm Arendt, Mosher, and Grant.

Barton Myers, Toro Canyon home, circa 1999

Kurt Helfrich left the Museum in 2008, to become the Chief Archivist at the British Architectural Library. Jocelyn Gibbs was hired as curator in 2010, after serving as the Associate Director of Collections at the Canadian Center for Architecture in Montreal. She previously was Head of Special Collections Cataloging at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. Shortly thereafter, the Museum was closed for seismic retrofitting and alterations to two of the wings of the Arts Building, including the addition of a Research Room. The name of the Museum was also changed from the University Art Museum to the Art, Design & Architecture Museum. Gibbs secured funding through a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to organize, process, and catalog the collections and make them available through the Online Archive of California. Grants were also secured to upgrade the ADC archive storage facility with compact shelving and updated climate controls so that the collection could continue to expand and to preserve the fragile drawings.

The pace of acquisitions quickened in the 2010s as more prominent mid-century architects retired or passed away and their families and colleagues generously gifted their collections to the archive. During this time, Gibbs collected the papers of James de Long, Bernard Judge, Harry Wolf, Lockwood de Forest, Carlos Diniz, Isabelle Greene, and Sim Bruce Richards, among many others. A National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant was secured to help fund the renovation of a building at UCSB’s Devereux campus and efforts are ongoing to secure additional grants and funding for the long-term storage project.

ADC Research Room, photo by intern Kinny Chen, 2018

In 2018, Jocelyn Gibbs retired as an emeritus curator and has continued to advocate for the value and importance of the ADC. Silvia Perea was hired in 2019; she was previously curator at the Baker Museum in Naples, Florida. A trained architect and architectural historian (PhD, Polytechnic University of Madrid), Perea is continuing the expansion of the collection.  Recent acquisitions include Barton Phelps, Claud Beelman, Norm Applebaum, and Marshall Wilkinson.

Associate Campus Architect Dennis Whelan presenting UCSB history, circa 2011

With over 275 distinct collections, spanning from the late 19th century until the early 21st century and covering all areas of Southern California, the ADC now contains close to 2 million items. These include architectural drawings, renderings, correspondence, photographs, models, and furniture. The ADC has grown into one of the largest stand-alone architecture archives in North America. As technology expands into the digital realm, the ADC now has the vast majority of its collection finding aids available online through the Online Archive of California for researchers all over the world to access. Additionally, the ADC has made available digitized collection images through Calisphere and online exhibits through Omeka.  The ADC works closely with UCSB’s History of Art and Architecture department to provide digital and physical archival materials for classroom viewing. The Museum also provides internships for UCSB undergraduates to work in the archive and at the Museum, which gives the interns valuable work experience.

The ADC is an important learning tool for students of architecture and architectural history, as well as a valuable resource for architectural historians, scholars, and homeowners to help understand the history of a building. With a specific focus on the built environment of Southern California, the ADC brings together the collections of architects, landscape architects, and urban planners to highlight the interconnectivity of design to the region’s social, cultural, political, and environmental landscape.

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