Architectural Archives

  • Anne Tyng, c. 1978

  • Tyng with Louis Kahn and others, 1947

Anne Grisold Tyng Collection (074)

The Anne Griswold Tyng Collection contains materials related to her career as an independent architect, as an architect in the office of Louis I. Kahn, and as a teacher at the University of Pennsylvania, together with her articles, lectures and interviews from throughout her career.  The collection also contains personal papers, including correspondence and materials related to her education and family .

Biographical / Historical Sketch

Anne Griswold Tyng devoted her career to achieving a synthesis of geometric order, architecture and human consciousness.  A central figure in redefining modernism in the 1950-60's, Tyng wrote extensively on the subject of creative conflicts between men and women emphasizing her own transition from a muse to heroine in search of an independent visible identity.  Tyng characterized each stage of her life as an evolution of "psychological development necessary to free her creative potential" enabling her to become heroine of her own ideas rather than a muse to the creative potential of another.

Born in Kuling, Kiangsi province, China in 1920, Anne Griswold Tyng was the fourth child of Ethel Arens and Walworth Tyng, Episcopalian missionaries with roots dating back to the Massachusetts Bay colony.  While the Tyng family would periodically return to the United States during sabbatical years, Anne moved permanently to the United States in 1938 to study fine arts at Radcliffe College.  Tyng continued her education at the Harvard Graduate School of Design where she studied architecture under Walter Gropius (1883-1969), Joseph Hudnut (1886-1968) and Marcel Breuer (1902-1981). The Bauhaus training she received at Harvard equipped her with a "fervor for the 'box' with a bareboned dedication to low-cost housing and the purer forms of the international style". 

Upon graduation from Harvard in 1944, Tyng was employed in the New York office of architect Konrad Wachsmann (1944), as well as the industrial design firms of Van Doren, Nowland and Schladermundt (1944) and Knoll Associates (1944-45).  Moving to Philadelphia in 1945, Tyng began working in the office of Stonorov and Kahn where she engaged in a range of projects such as the "Triangle Area Re-Development Plan"(1946-52) for Philadelphia.  Following Kahn's disassociation with Stonorov in 1947, Tyng continued as a member of Kahn’s staff where she remained active until 1964.  During this period, Tyng exerted a visible influence on Kahn's projects, most notably in his design for the Weiss Residence (1948-49), the Yale University Art Gallery (1951-53), the Philadelphia City Tower (1952-57) and the Trenton Bath House (1955-56).  Within the ferment of postwar Philadelphia architectural design, Tyng's efforts both defined and reinforced Kahn's, providing the foundation for a new direction in architectural form and thought.

Tyng devoted the bulk of her time to research and writing following her departure from the office of Louis I. Kahn.  Her search for the essence of constructive geometry, which began in Kahn's office, guided her design work, research and writing, as she pursued the inherent relationships and hierarchies associated with the geometry of architecture and their links to the development of the conscious mind.  Three important articles, "Urban Space Systems as Living Form"(1968-69), "Geometric Extensions of Consciousness"(1969) and "Simultaneous Randomness and Order: The Fibonacci-Divine Proportion as a Universal Forming Principle" (1975), focus on the linkages between architectural history and the "geometric progression from simplicity to complexity of symmetric forms linked by asymmetric process."  Tyng has also written extensively on the nature of urban environments and their relationship to human scale in "Identity Thresholds of Individual and Community in the Forming of Cities" (1976) and in "London Squares" (1980-84), an unpublished manuscript investigating the evolving function of urban squares as outdoor rooms.

Drawing from her personal experiences in one of the last professions dominated almost exclusively by men, Anne Tyng wrote "From Muse to Heroine: Toward a Visible Creative Identity" (1988), a study of the development of female creative roles within architecture from an introverted muse to an extroverted heroine.  In 1976, Tyng was one of only three women from the United States selected to participate in the First International Congress of Women Architects held in Ramsar, Iran.  Her work has been shown in an assortment of exhibits including The Divine Proportion in the Platonic Solids (1964), Women in the Design of the Environment (1974), Two on Two at the Octagon (1979), Visionary Drawings of Architecture and Planning, 1900 through the 1960's (1979-82) and That Exceptional One: Women in American Architecture 1888-1988 (1988).

Anne Tyng began teaching courses at the University of Pennsylvania in 1968. Her courses were an extension of her writing and research focusing on geometric order and human scale in architecture. She was elected Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1975. She was awarded a PhD in 1975 for a dissertation titled "Simultaneous Randomness and Order: The Fibonacci-Divine Proportion As a Universal Forming Principle".  She continued to teach at the University of Pennsylvania until 1995.

Scope & Content Note

The Anne Griswold Tyng Collection comprises the contents of her office and studio at 2511 Waverly Street in Center City Philadelphia, her residence for nearly fifty years.  Donated to the Architectural Archives in 2004, the collection contains project files and architectural drawings from work in the office of Louis I. Kahn, a clippings file related to his work and city planning in Philadelphia (1946-1998), Anne Tyng's personal papers, papers associated with Tyng's independent architectural practice, teaching files, professional files, writings, research, photographs and models.

The collection is arranged six series: Series I. Personal Papers; Series II. Professional Papers and Project Files; Series III. Architectural Drawings; Series IV. Photographic Materials; Series V. Models; Series VI. Oversized Materials.  Series I is organized in sub-series, including personal alphabetical files, materials associated with Anne Tyng's education, personal correspondence, curricula vitae and biographical sketches, published materials about Anne Tyng and a sub-series of materials collected by Anne Tyng about Louis I. Kahn.  Series II comprises professional alphabetical files and correspondence, writings, teaching materials and project files.  Series III, IV and V contain materials that are separated for storage purposes. 

Researchers seeking materials in this collection related to the relationship between Louis I. Kahn and Anne Tyng will find them dispersed among the personal and professional series.  Tyng’s collection of assorted materials related to the work of Kahn is found in Sub-series I.F, including, among other things, Kahn and Tyng's weekly planner (1952) and notepad (1947-49) and her clippings file.  Also, files related to conferences and lectures about Kahn are found in subseries II.A. Alphabetical Files.

Files related to projects in Kahn's office (1942-1974) are arranged chronologically in sub-series II.F, including files related to the Broudo Residence (1942), Washbourne Residence (1950-51), Clever Residence (1957-61/1972) and Shapiro Residence (1959-61/1973-75).  Architectural drawings related to Kahn projects are arranged alphabetically in Series III.  Photographs and slides related to Kahn are found in Series IV. and two Kahn-related models are found in Series V. Subject files related to the controversy surrounding additions to the Salk Institute and the Kimbell Art Museum are located in sub-series II.A.

In 1997, Tyng published Louis Kahn to Anne Tyng: The Rome Letters 1953-54 detailing her relationship to Kahn using the correspondence they exchanged while she was in Rome expecting the birth of their daughter Alexandra.  Materials related to this publication are found in sub-series II.D, including drafts and correspondence.  The original letters published in the book remain with the family. This subseries contains additional original letters from Louis Kahn, photocopies of the letters published in the book and other correspondence from 1953-54. Photographic materials related to the publication are found in Series IV. Further correspondence between Kahn and Tyng is located in sub-series II.A.

Researchers seeking materials related to Anne Tyng's independent work will find files for her architectural projects in sub-series II.F and the related architectural drawings, photographs and models in Series III, IV and V.  Notable projects include the Elementary School Project, Bucks County, PA (1949-52), Walworth Tyng Residence (1952-54) and an Urban Hierarchy (1969-71).

Tyng’s dissertation, "Simultaneous Randomness and Order: The Fibonacci-Divine Proportion As a Universal Forming Principle"(1975) (written in fulfillment of the requirements for a Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Fine Arts) is located in the Education sub-series (I.B) along with earlier coursework from the Harvard Graduate School of Design (1942-44).  Published materials written about Tyng throughout her career are found in sub-series I.E arranged chronologically (1938-2000). 

Tyng’s alphabetical and chronological files are found in Series II.  The first sub-series, arranged alphabetically by subject, contains materials related to exhibits, associations and committees Tyng was involved with during her career. Notable materials include documentation of the exhibit The Divine Proportion in the Platonic Solids (1964) in which models were used to show the linkages between the five platonic solids by the divine proportion.  The bulk of Tyng’s professional correspondence is arranged chronologically in sub-series II.B; however, some correspondents (e.g. R. Buckminster Fuller, Zvi Hecker, Haresh Lalvani, Moshe Safdie, Sir Peter Shepheard and Robert Venturi) are filed alphabetically in sub-series II.A.

Tyng's writings, including articles, lectures and interviews, both published and unpublished, are arranged alphabetically by title in sub-series II.C.  A bibliography of published works by Tyng including the Mill Creek Redevelopment Plan, "Urban Space Systems as Living Form", "Geometric Extensions of Consciousness" and "From Muse to Heroine: Toward a Visible Creative Identity" is located in Appendix B. 

Syllabi, notes, and other materials related to courses taught by Tyng (at the University of Pennsylvania and other colleges in the region) are arranged by year in Sub-series II.E.  Selected examples of work completed by her students at the University of Pennsylvania are located in Series III. Architectural Drawings and in Series V. Models.

Among models in Series V, researchers should note geometric models illustrating the relational hierarchies between the Platonic solids and a fine series of four models of her Four-Poster House. Also notable are full-size examples of Tyng Toys, modular wooden play equipment she designed for children. 

Series Index

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