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Celebrating the Life

 

Paul Philippe Cret

Acquired in 2000, the Paul Philippe Cret Library is a collection of architectural books and photographs of considerable historic value to the University of Texas at Austin. Its namesake and originator, French-American architect and educator Paul Philippe Cret (1876-1945) devised the University’s 1933 Campus Master Plan and designed 20 campus buildings including the Beaux-Arts Main Building and UT Tower.

In 1903, Cret joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, beginning his architectural practice four years later. In addition to his work at the University of Texas, Cret designed The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. and The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. His contribution to American architecture as both a practitioner and educator bridges the Beaux-Arts tradition of design and emergent concepts of modernism. This transition is reflected in his library in which foundational Renaissance treatises on architecture and design can be located alongside the polemical writings of Le Corbusier and other modernists.

The Cret library includes over 450 volumes published between 1560 and the 1930s as well as 43 albums, portfolios and boxed sets of archival photographs, complementing the Cret drawing collection held in the Alexander Architectural Archive. Offprints, exhibition catalogs, prospectuses, annual reports, monographs, trade and industrial publications, and journals, including many volumes in French comprise the library’s corpus. Among these titles, one can locate numerous rare and richly illustrated imprints, many of which are folios preserved in their original leather or cloth binding.

Following Cret’s death in 1945, partners John Harbeson, William J. H. Hough, William Livingston and Roy Larson continued his practice under the name Harbeson, Hough, Livingston and Larson. Known formally as H2L2 beginning in 1976, the firm maintained the entirety of Cret’s library and in 1998, its partners contacted the UT Architecture & Planning Library regarding its sell. The University of Texas Libraries subsequently acquired the Cret library with funding provided by the Martin S. and Evelyn S. Kermacy Collection Endowment, the School of Architecture, the General Libraries, and the UT System Academic Library Collection Enhancement Program.