Charles Kahn Papers circa 1950-circa 1960

Summary
Contents
Names/subjects
Using these materials
Please note that some historical materials may contain harmful content and/or descriptions. Learn how we’re addressing it.
Creator
Kahn, Charles H.
Size
3 linear feet (3 tubes, 1 oversize flatbox, 1 half box, 2 flat folder, 1 cassette box)
Call number
MC 00149

The Charles Kahn Papers contains design proposals and drawings, course materials, journal articles, pamphlets, brochures, oral histories, and photographic negatives documenting work of Charles Kahn and his students as well as local architects, including Horacio Caminos, Matthew Nowicki, James Fitzgibbons, Eduardo Catalano, and George Matsumoto. Materials related to Buckminster Fuller and Charter Industries (Geodesic domes) are also included. Items in the collection are described using titles found on Kahn's original files.

Charles Howard Kahn was born in Salisbury, North Carolina. In 1952, he joined the faculty at North Carolina State University as an instructor in Civil Engineering. He was appointed Associate Professor of Design in 1959. Kahn remained at North Carolina State University until 1968, when he left for the University of Kansas. Kahn's research focused on thin-shell structures and membranes of long-span roofs for buildings. Notably, he designed North Carolina State University's Carter-Finley Stadium. The items included in this collection reflect Kahn's time at North Carolina State University. Kahn passed away at the age of 95 in 2021.

Biographical/historical note

Charles Howard Kahn was born in Salisbury, North Carolina. He received a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1946, a Bachelors of Civil Engineering from North Carolina State College in 1948, and finally a M.S. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1949). In 1952 he joined the faculty at North Carolina State College as an instructor in Civil Engineering. He was appointed Associate Professor of Design in 1959. Kahn remained at North Carolina State University until 1968, when he left for the University of Kansas, where he became the first dean of the School of Architecture and Urban Design. He retired from academia in 1991 and returned to North Carolina. Kahn passed away at the age of 95 in 2021.

Kahn's research focused on thin-shell structures and membranes of long-span roofs for buildings. Notably, he designed North Carolina State University's Carter-Finley Stadium. His time at Kansas was marked by his own interest in social activism and the vision of architectural design as a problem-solving activity.

Scope/content

The Charles Kahn Papers (ca. 1950-1960) contain design proposals and drawings, course materials, journal articles, pamphlets, brochures, oral histories, and photographic negatives documenting the work of Kahn and his students as well as local architects, including Horacio Caminos, Matthew Nowicki, James Fitzgibbons, Eduardo Catalano, and George Matsumoto. Materials related to Buckminster Fuller are also included.

Arrangement

The collection is organized into four series:

  • Lecture Notes
  • Maps
  • Office papers and Drawingss
Items in the collection are described using titles found on Kahn's original files. Files are arranged alphabetically. The fourth series contains oral histories on cassette tapes.

Use of these materials

The nature of the NC State University Libraries' Special Collections means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The NC State University Libraries claims only physical ownership of most Special Collections materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

The oral histoy cassettes (series four) have not been digitized. Access to many of these tapes can be found online at: http://ncmodernist.org/kahn-interviews.htm NC State does not claim copyright to these materials.

This collection may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which North Carolina State University assumes no responsibility.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Charles Kahn Papers, MC 00149, Special Collections Research Center, NC State University Libraries, Raleigh, NC

Source of acquisition

Gift of Charles H. Kahn, 2009 (Accession 2009.0136). Gift of North Carolina Modernist Houses, 2019 (Accession 2019.0300).

Processing information

Processed by: Matisha Wiggs; machine-readable finding aid created by: Matisha Wiggs and Todd Kosmerick, July 2011. Additions by: Gwynn Thayer, December 2019.

Sponsor

This collection was processed with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program.

Please note that some historical materials may contain harmful content and/or descriptions. Learn how we’re addressing it.

The collection is organized into four principal series:

Lecture Notes and Other Materials 1952-1968 (MC 00149 Series 1)

These materials maintain original file names as assigned by Charles Kahn. They are arranged alphabetically.

Arches circa 1952-1968
Note

Various notes, drawings, and other graphic materials related to the history and development of arches. Created by Charles Kahn for teaching purposes.

Oversize flat box 1, Folder 9
Evolution of structures circa 1960 (2009.0136)

Large timelines charting construction trends.

Tube 2
Loose pieces for an exhibition or teaching display circa 1952-1968
Note

Small strips of paper, all with text related to various specific structures or types of structures. Glue on the back of each piece. Held together in an envelope with Virginia Tech letterhead on the return address.

Oversize flat box 1, Folder 10
Slabs circa 1952-1968
Note

Various notes, drawings, and other graphic materials related to the history and development of slab construction. Created by Charles Kahn for teaching purposes.

Oversize flat box 1, Folder 7
Space frames circa 1952-1968
Note

Various notes, drawings, and other graphic materials related to the history and development of space frames. Created by Charles Kahn for teaching purposes. Includes a number of U.S. Patent Office documents submitted by Buckminster Fuller, John S. Adams, and R.B. Hartman.

Access to physical material and digital files not available online may be provided for use in the SCRC Reading Room after staff review.

Some materials may not have been digitized or made available online.

Patents
Oversize flat box 1, Folder 8
Suspension systems circa 1952-1968
Note

Various notes, drawings, and other graphic materials related to the history and development of suspension systems. Created by Charles Kahn for teaching purposes.

Oversize flat box 1, Folder 6
Truss development: Usage, etc. circa 1952-1968
Note

Large graph showing the history of truss bridge development.

Oversize flat box 1, Folder 10
Photographs of the Catalano House in Raleigh, NC under construction circa 1953 (2019.0300)

3 photographs

Half box 3 , Folder 1
Maps 1974-1980 (MC 00149 Series 2)

These materials do not represent original work by Kahn. They were possibly used as aids during educational lectures.

Dymaxion sky-ocean world map 1980 (2009.0136)
Note

Grip-Kitrick Edition of Fuller Projection Map, designed by R. Buckminster Fuller.

After review, access to the digital copies may be provided for use in the SCRC Reading Room upon request.

The Special Collections Research Center, NC State University Libraries, has digital copies of some or all of these materials.

Fuller, R. Buckminster, (Richard Buckminster) (Creator)
Tube 1
Fuller projective-transformation circa 1980
Note

Accompanying explanatory document for the Dymaxion Sky-Ocean World Map

Oversize flat box 1, Folder 11
Remapping our world 1974
Note

Article by Buckminster Fuller from 1974 issue of Today's Education, highlighting the value of his new world map design.

Fuller, R. Buckminster, (Richard Buckminster) (Creator)
Oversize flat box 1, Folder 11
Office Papers and Drawings 1954-1993 (MC 00149 Series 3)

These materials maintain original file names as assigned by Charles Kahn. They are arranged alphabetically.

Aluminum Research Program for Aluminum Company of America 1961 (Accession 2016-0282)
Note

Two sets of drawings by Edwin F. Harris. Set one: "Space Frame," 11 pages. Set two: "Shell Structures," 26 pages. Negative prints of original drawings.

Drawings

Oversize flat box 1, Folder 12
Aluminum Research Program for Aluminum Company of America 1961 (Accession 2016-0282)
Note

Report by Horacio Caminos and Charles Kahn detailing structures created for the Aluminum Company of America.

Report

Caminos, Horacio, 1914-1990 (Creator); Kahn, Charles H. (Creator)
Oversize flat box 1, Folder 12
Life, the teaching, and the architecture of Matthew Nowicki 1954
Note

Four part biographical article about Matthew Nowicki from Architectural Record, June 1954.

Lewis, Mumford (Creator)
Oversize flat box 1, Folder 2
Miscellaneous sketches and drawings
Flat folder 1
Notebooks: old man river project 1970
Note

Bound, 62-page book published by The Parsimonious Press, School of Architecture, Washington University, St. Louis, Mo. Book's contents consist of copies of notes, newspaper clippings, and text concerning the development of the East St. Louis (Mo.) Riverfront. R. Buckminster Fuller assisted with the development of this project.

Fitzgibbon, James (James Walter), 1915-1985 (Creator)
Oversize flat box 1, Folder 1
School of Design student papers circa 1964 (2009.0136)
Note

Charles Kahn's students' papers and notes on bridges. Some labeled with students' names.

Oversize flat box 1, Folder 5
Sketches circa 1960s
Note

Ten loose notepages (some are NC State University School of Design letterhead) covered with hand-drawn sketches of bridges and other architectural features. These are possibly school notes. Sticky note on the front of the group reads "Horacio Caminos."

Caminos, Horacio, 1914-1990 (Creator)
Oversize flat box 1, Folder 3
Sketches and visions, exhibition guide 1993
Note

Exhibition guide for show at the Visual Arts Center at North Carolina State University, January 21 1993-March 21 1993.

Nowicki, Matthew, 1910-1950
Oversize flat box 1, Folder 2
Gerhard Residence (Charles Kahn/Brian Shawcroft, six drawings, A1-A5, M1, Sevier Street, Durham, 1962); O'Hanlen Building (Winston-Salem, Charles Kahn and Colvin, Hammill, and Walter/Hirshen and Van der Ryn, 1974); Kaufman Residence (Durham, Kahn/Shawcroft, 1962); plus one smaller unlabeled drawing (18 total) 1962-1974 (2019.0300)
Flat folder 2
Poliedro de Caracas, Geodesic Dome, Charter Industry for W. J. Alcock, Drawn by T. R. R., sheets 1-9 (November 15 1972) 1972 (2019.0300)
Tube 3
Residence for Mr. & Mrs. R. H. Helle--Chapel Hill 1961 (2021.0071)
Flat folder 3
Oral Histories 1971-1978 (2019.0300)

Reading Room use only, copyright has not been transferred to NC State.

Oral Histories: James Fitzgibbon (3); Richard Bender (2); Alfred Goebel (1); George Matsumoto (1); T. C. Howard (1); Gabriele Scimemi (1); Myron Goldsmith (1); George Qualls (1); Sasha Nowicki (1); Eduardo Catalano (1); Riccardo Morandi (1); Konrad Wachsmann (6); Ralph Knowles (2); Buckminster Fuller (2); Henry Kamphoefner (2); Lev Zetlin (1); Antonio Nervi (1); Chris Alexander with Grabow (1); Vidler and Maher's lecture (?) (2); Charles Kahn (1); Sergio Musmeci (2) 1971-1978 (2019.0300)
Cassette box 2
Please note that some historical materials may contain harmful content and/or descriptions. Learn how we’re addressing it.

Access to the collection

This collection is open for research; access requires at least 48 hours advance notice. Because of the nature of certain archival formats, including digital and audio-visual materials, access to digital files may require additional advanced notice.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Charles Kahn Papers, MC 00149, NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center

Use of these materials

The nature of the NC State University Libraries' Special Collections means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The NC State University Libraries claims only physical ownership of most Special Collections materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

The oral histoy cassettes (series four) have not been digitized. Access to many of these tapes can be found online at: http://ncmodernist.org/kahn-interviews.htm NC State does not claim copyright to these materials.

This collection may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which North Carolina State University assumes no responsibility.