Blake, Peter, 1920-2006

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Peter Blake was a noted architect and author of architectural publications. He was associated with "Architectural Forum," a leading and influential journal, from 1942 to 1972, as a contributing author and editor. From 1955 to 1957 he was the architecture editor of "House and Home." He also was chief publisher of "Architecture Plus" from 1972-1975. He was the author of more than 15 books on architecture and architects. Blake was a critic of modern architecture and wrote extensively on the topic. Blake was a professional architect and designed about 50 buildings during the span of his career. Peter Blake was born on September 20, 1920, in Berlin, Germany. He attended college in London in the late 1930s before he immigrated to the United States. He studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania in the early 1940s. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1944 and enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served in Europe during World War II. He received an architecture degree from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1949. He died on December 5, 2006 in Connecticut.

From the description of Peter Blake papers, 1943-1979. (University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center). WorldCat record id: 77620965

Born Peter Jost Blach in Berlin in 1920, he was educated at the Grunewald Gymnasium in Berlin (1928-1934) and was sent to the Bootham School, York, England (1935-38) following the Nazi party's rise to power in Germany. He then attended the University of London (1938) and Regent Street Polytechnic, School of Architecture, London (1939). While in London he was an apprentice to the architect Serge Chermayeff (1938-39). He then immigrated to the United States and attended the University of Pennsylvania's School of Architecture (1941). In Philadelphia, he was apprentice to George Howe, Oskar Stonorov, and Louis Kahn, Architects (1940-42). In 1944 he became a United States citizen and changed his surname to Blake. During World War II, Blake served for the U.S. Army as an Intelligence Officer, U.S. 5th Armored Division (1944-45) and Staff Intelligence Officer, G-2 Division, U.S.F.E.T., in Frankfurt, Germany (1945-47). After the war, Blake continued to work in West Germany as an Intelligence Officer. Upon returning to the United States, he settled in New York City and completed classes in English through the General Studies program at Columbia University (1947-48). He subsequently met architect Philip Johnson, who appointed him curator of the Department of Architecture and Industrial Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City (1948-1950). He finally received his bachelor's degree in architecture from the Pratt Institute's School of Architecture in 1949.

Blake was a prolific editor and author, writing 17 books and numerous columns, articles, and essays for both the professional architect and the layperson. While at MoMA, Blake wrote a monograph on the architect Marcel Breuer titled Marcel Breuer: Architect and Designer (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1949). Following his work at MoMA, he served on the editorial staff of Architectural Forum from 1950-1972--he was associate editor from 1950 to 1961, managing editor from 1961 to 1964, and editor-in-chief from 1965 to 1972. After Forum folded, Blake founded Architecture Plus magazine, where he served as editor-in-chief from 1972-1975. He was also on the editorial staff of House & Home and Magazine of Building, and published articles in Harper's Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, New York Magazine, and Interior Design, where he had a regular monthly column from 1983-1995.

His most notable books include The Master Builders: Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright (Knopf, 1960) and God's Own Junkyard: The Planned Deterioration of America's Landscape (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964), a polemic against billboards and "honky-tonk" whose thesis he would later revise, ultimately appreciating the "pop art" aspect of architecture and urbanism that he had once deplored. By 1977, he had become frustrated with contemporary iterations of modern architecture, writing Form Follows Fiasco: Why Modern Architecture Hasn't Worked (Boston: Little, Brown, 1977).

Although he practiced architecture intermittently, Blake designed several important residences. He established an architectural practice in 1956 and designed projects in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Berlin.These include the Pin Wheel House (1954), designed by Blake for his family in Water Mill, New York. The writer Alastair Gordon called this house "A platform for viewing...a kind of Action Architecture realized--a house that could respond to the weather, the views and the personal moods of its inhabitant." Later, in a collaboration with R. Buckminster Fuller and other architects, Blake designed an exhibition of U.S. architecture at the American National Exhibition in Moscow (1959), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, which included a model suburban house. Its kitchen was the site of the infamous "Kitchen Debate," where Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev shook his fist at then-Vice President Richard M. Nixon. He was elected to the American Institute of Architect's College of Fellows.

Blake also taught architecture, serving as chairman of the Boston Architectural Center (1975-1979) and chairman (1979-1986) and professor (1979-1991) at Catholic University's Department of Architecture and Planning. He was also a visiting professor at the School of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis (1991-1993) and was a visiting lecturer at numerous institutions, including Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Tulane, the Pratt Institute, and the E.T.H. Zurich. He also taught the history of modern art and architecture with some regularity at the New School for Social Research in New York City. Throughout his life, Blake maintained close friendships with many prominent architects and artists, publishing a memoir of critical reflections and anecdotes in No Place Like Utopia: Modern Architecture and the Company We Kept (Knopf, 1993). Blake was married three times, first to Martha Howard, then to Loretta Nelson, and finally to the artist and critic Susan Tamulevich. Blake had two children, Christina and Casey. He died near Branford, Connecticut, in 2006.

From the description of Peter Blake architectural records and papers, 1910-2006 (bulk 1980-2002). (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 269257255

Born Peter Jost Blach in Berlin in 1920, he was educated at the Grunewald Gymnasium in Berlin (1928-1934) and was sent to the Bootham School, York, England (1935-38) following the Nazi party’s rise to power in Germany. He then attended the University of London (1938) and Regent Street Polytechnic, School of Architecture, London (1939). While in London he was an apprentice to the architect Serge Chermayeff (1938-39). He then immigrated to the United States and attended the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Architecture (1941). In Philadelphia, he was apprentice to George Howe, Oskar Stonorov, and Louis Kahn, Architects (1940-42). In 1944 he became a United States citizen and changed his surname to Blake. During World War II, Blake served for the U.S. Army as an Intelligence Officer, U.S. 5th Armored Division (1944-45) and Staff Intelligence Officer, G-2 Division, U.S.F.E.T., in Frankfurt, Germany (1945-47). After the war, Blake continued to work in West Germany as an Intelligence Officer. Upon returning to the United States, he settled in New York City and completed classes in English through the General Studies program at Columbia University (1947-48). He subsequently met architect Philip Johnson, who appointed him curator of the Department of Architecture and Industrial Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City (1948-1950). He finally received his bachelor’s degree in architecture from the Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture in 1949.

Blake was a prolific editor and author, writing 17 books and numerous columns, articles, and essays for both the professional architect and the layperson. While at MoMA, Blake wrote a monograph on the architect Marcel Breuer titled Marcel Breuer: Architect and Designer (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1949). Following his work at MoMA, he served on the editorial staff of Architectural Forum from 1950-1972--he was associate editor from 1950 to 1961, managing editor from 1961 to 1964, and editor-in-chief from 1965 to 1972. After Forum folded, Blake founded Architecture Plus magazine, where he served as editor-in-chief from 1972-1975. He was also on the editorial staff of House & Home and Magazine of Building, and published articles in Harper’s, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, New York magazine, and Interior Design, where he had a regular monthly column from 1983-1995.

His most notable books include The Master Builders: Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright (Knopf, 1960) and God’s Own Junkyard: The Planned Deterioration of America’s Landscape (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964), a polemic against billboards and "honky-tonk" whose thesis he would later revise, ultimately appreciating the "pop art" aspect of architecture and urbanism that he had once deplored. By 1977, he had become frustrated with contemporary iterations of modern architecture, writing Form Follows Fiasco: Why Modern Architecture Hasn’t Worked (Boston: Little, Brown, 1977).

Although he practiced architecture intermittently, Blake designed several important residences. He established an architectural practice in 1956 and designed projects in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Berlin.These include the Pin Wheel House (1954), designed by Blake for his family in Water Mill, New York. The writer Alastair Gordon called this house "A platform for viewing...a kind of Action Architecture realized--a house that could respond to the weather, the views and the personal moods of its inhabitant." Later, in a collaboration with R. Buckminster Fuller and other architects, Blake designed an exhibition of U.S. architecture at the American National Exhibition in Moscow (1959), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, which included a model suburban house. Its kitchen was the site of the infamous "Kitchen Debate," where Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev shook his fist at then-Vice President Richard M. Nixon. He was elected to the American Institute of Architect’s College of Fellows.

Blake also taught architecture, serving as chairman of the Boston Architectural Center (1975-1979) and chairman (1979-1986) and professor (1979-1991) at Catholic University’s Department of Architecture and Planning. He was also a visiting professor at the School of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis (1991-1993) and was a visiting lecturer at numerous institutions, including Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Tulane, the Pratt Institute, and the E.T.H. Zurich. He also taught the history of modern art and architecture with some regularity at the New School for Social Research in New York City. Throughout his life, Blake maintained close friendships with many prominent architects and artists, publishing a memoir of critical reflections and anecdotes in No Place Like Utopia: Modern Architecture and The Company We Kept (Knopf, 1993). Blake was married three times, first to Martha Howard, then to Loretta Nelson, and finally to the artist and critic Susan Tamulevich. Blake had two children, Christina and Casey. He died near Branford, Connecticut, in 2006.

From the guide to the Peter Blake architectural records and papers, 1910-2006, (bulk 1980-2002), (Columbia University. Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Department of Drawings & Archives, )

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig, 1886-1969. Papers of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1921-1969 (bulk 1938-1969). Library of Congress
referencedIn Bliven, Bruce, 1889-1977. Bruce Bliven papers, 1906-1985. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Chermayeff, Serge, 1900-1996. Serge Chermayeff architectural records and papers, 1909-1980. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Woods, Shadrach, 1923-1973. Shadrach Woods architectural records and papers, 1923-2008 (bulk 1948-1973). Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Peter Blake architectural records and papers, 1910-2006, (bulk 1980-2002) Columbia University. Avery Architecture and Fine Arts Library. Department of Drawings and Archives.
referencedIn Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Papers, 1921-1969, (bulk 1938-1969) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Serge Chermayeff architectural records and papers, 1909-1980, 1930s-1970s Columbia University. Avery Architecture and Fine Arts Library. Department of Drawings and Archives.
referencedIn Gropius, Walter, 1883-1969. Papers, 1925-1969 (bulk: 1937-1969) Houghton Library
referencedIn George Sarton additional papers, 1901-1956 Houghton Library
creatorOf Haskell, Douglas Putnam, 1899-1979. Douglas Putnam Haskell papers, 1866-1979 (bulk 1949-1964). Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Peter Blake : vertical file. Centre canadien d'architecture, | Canadian Centre for Architecture | CCA
referencedIn Dwight Macdonald papers, 1865-1984 (bulk 1920-1978) Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.). Dept. of Architecture. Letters, 1939-1949, to Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Macdonald, Dwight. Dwight Macdonald papers, 1865-1984 (bulk 1920-1978) Yale University Library
creatorOf Blake, Peter, 1920-2006. Letters, 1948-1955, to Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Blake, Peter, 1920-2006. Peter Blake architectural records and papers, 1910-2006 (bulk 1980-2002). Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Blake, Peter, 1920-2006. Peter Blake papers, 1943-1979. Univerisity of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Blechman, R. O. (Robert O.), 1930- person
associatedWith Bliven, Bruce, 1889-1977. person
associatedWith Brodovitch, Alexey, 1898-1971. person
associatedWith Chermayeff, Ivan. person
associatedWith Chermayeff, Serge, 1900-1996. person
associatedWith De Carlo, Giancarlo, 1919-2005. person
associatedWith Ellwood, Craig. person
associatedWith Ellwood, Craig. person
associatedWith Franzen, Ulrich, 1921- person
associatedWith Fuller, R. Buckminster (Richard Buckminster), 1895-1983. person
correspondedWith Gropius, Walter, 1883-1969 person
associatedWith Haskell, Douglas Putnam, 1899-1979. person
associatedWith Holzbauer, Wilhelm. person
associatedWith Holzbauer, Wilhelm. person
associatedWith Johnson, Philip, 1906-2005. person
associatedWith Kaufmann, Edgar, 1910-1989. person
associatedWith Kleihues, Josef Paul. person
associatedWith Kleihues, Josef Paul. person
associatedWith Krasner, Lee, 1908-1984. person
associatedWith Le Corbusier, 1887-1965. person
associatedWith Macdonald, Dwight. person
associatedWith MacDonald, Dwight. person
associatedWith Masey, Jack. person
associatedWith Masey, Jack. person
associatedWith Masey, Mary Lou. person
associatedWith Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig, 1886-1969. person
associatedWith Moholy-Nagy, Sibyl, 1905- person
associatedWith Moltke, Willo von. person
associatedWith Moltke, Willo von. person
associatedWith Muschamp, Herbert. person
associatedWith Muschamp, Herbert. person
associatedWith Museum of Modern Art. person
associatedWith Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.). Dept. of Architecture. corporateBody
associatedWith Nervi, Pier Luigi. person
associatedWith Nervi, Pier Luigi. person
associatedWith Neski, Julian. person
associatedWith Neski, Julian. person
associatedWith Neutra, Dion. person
associatedWith Neutra, Dion. person
associatedWith Oud, J. J. P. (Jacobus Johannes Pieter), 1890-1963. person
associatedWith Pollock, Jackson, 1912-1956. person
associatedWith Roche, Kevin, 1922- person
associatedWith Roche, Kevin, d. person
associatedWith Rogers, Ernesto N. person
associatedWith Rudolph, Paul, 1918-1997. person
associatedWith Saarinen, Aline B. (Aline Bernstein), 1914-1972. person
associatedWith Saarinen, Eero, 1910-1961. person
correspondedWith Sarton, George, 1884-1956 person
associatedWith Seidler, Harry, 1923-2006. person
associatedWith Seldes, Timothy. person
associatedWith Seldes, Timothy. person
associatedWith Singh, Patwant, 1925-2009. person
associatedWith Snibbe, Richard W. person
associatedWith Soleri, Paolo, 1919- person
associatedWith Soriano, Rafael, 1920- person
associatedWith Stubbins, Hugh, 1912-2006. person
associatedWith Tafel, Edgar. person
associatedWith Tange, Kenzō, 1913-2005. person
associatedWith Ungers, O. M. (Oswald Mathias) person
associatedWith University of Wyoming. American Heritage Center. corporateBody
associatedWith Venturi, Robert. person
associatedWith Venturi, Robert. person
associatedWith Wachsmann, Konrad, 1901-1980. person
associatedWith Woods, Shadrach, 1923-1973. person
associatedWith Wright, Frank Lloyd, 1867-1959. person
associatedWith Wright, Lloyd, 1890-1978. person
associatedWith Zevi, Bruno, 1918-2000. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States
Subject
Architects
Architects
Architects
Architects
Architects
Architectural criticism
Architectural critics
Architectural design
Architectural journalism
Architectural photography
Architectural writing
Architecture
Architecture
Architecture, Modern
Occupation
Architect
Activity

Person

Birth 1920-09-20

Death 2006-12-06

Americans

English

Information

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