Victor Gruen: Architect of Urban Renewal

Anyone interested in American architectural history, especially those intrigued by the mid-century modern style, will be pleased to learn that the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center (AHC) has recently digitized part of an important collection in this area.  The AHC has digitized and made accessible online 5 films, 2 audio recordings, and a small sample of blueprints and photographs from the Victor Gruen papers.

Black and white photograph of a Victor Gruen architectural drawing. Taken from back "Project: VG Book, Heart of our Cities."  University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center, Victor Gruen Papers, Collection #5809, Box 57.

Black and white photograph of a Victor Gruen architectural drawing.  American Heritage Center, Victor Gruen Papers, Collection #5809, Box 57.

Victor Gruen was an Austrian-born architect known for pioneering the design of shopping malls in the United States and urban revitalization projects in the late 20th century. He worked as an architect in Vienna until 1938 when he emigrated to the U.S. to escape World War II. He first worked as a set and store designer in New York City and then established Victor Gruen Associates, one of the nation’s leading architectural, planning and engineering firms. Gruen Associates designed the first regional shopping center, the Northland Shopping Center in Detroit in 1954 and the first fully enclosed shopping center, Southdale Shopping Center near Minneapolis in 1956. This collection contains materials relating to Gruen’s architectural career including speeches, clippings, professional correspondence, photographs, audio tape, film, blueprints, and architectural project files on shopping centers, urban renewal, and area planning.

Black and white photograph of a Victor Gruen architectural drawing. Taken from back "Project: VG Book, Heart of our Cities."

Black and white photograph of a Victor Gruen architectural drawing. Taken from back “Project: VG Book, Heart of our Cities.”   American Heritage Center, Victor Gruen Papers, Collection #5809, Box 57.

Links to digitized items and additional information about the Victor Gruen papers can be found in the online finding aid at: http://rmoa.unm.edu/docviewer.php?docId=wyu-ah05809.xml

We hope you enjoy this new digital collection!

-Jamie J. Greene, Archives Specialist

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