Birmingham Public Library to Expand Newly Named Architecture & Design Collection

Alabama Power building
Alabama Power Company Building,
designed by Warren Knight & Davis, built in 1925

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) announces an ambitious and ongoing effort to expand its newly named Birmingham Architecture & Design Collection, which is part of the library’s Department of Archives & Manuscripts. The project is a proactive effort to acquire materials documenting the most significant historic and contemporary buildings, designed landscapes, places, and communities in the Birmingham area as well as representative work of the most significant architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, and developers based in the Birmingham area.

The mission of the Birmingham Architecture & Design Collection is to serve as an authentic record of the significant architectural and design heritage of the Birmingham area through collecting, preserving, promoting, and providing access to records of the built and landscaped environment of the city and surrounding region. With this collection, the Archives supports the research of scholars, design professionals, teachers, students, professors, home and building owners, and the interested public.

In addition to building plans and photos, the collection will grow to include oral history projects, neighborhood history projects, and public programs and lectures that highlight the Archives holdings. The Archives will work with other local collecting institutions, design and professional organizations, and community organizations.

“Birmingham and its suburbs have a rich range of buildings, parks and neighborhoods that reflect the work of the design professions and their clients over the decades,” suggests Philip Morris, a champion of good design in the Birmingham community. “The urban core has an especially concentrated balance of preserved historic architecture and newer designs that reinforce its sense of place. This important component of the city’s culture and character needs to be documented and disseminated, and Birmingham Public Library Archives is the right institution to do this.”

Since the founding of BPL’s Department of Archives and Manuscripts in 1975, a collection of drawings, photographs, documents, and research materials related to the city’s architecture and design heritage has gradually accumulated over time. This collection includes many significant resources such as the city’s founding documents and plans, historic architectural drawings and blueprints of some local structures, and documentation of Jefferson County residences between 1938 and 1975.

Realizing that the collection has the potential to become an even greater resource for the city, the Archives Department initiated the project to expand the collection of architecture materials relating to Birmingham’s architecture and design heritage. With the generous support of a small group of engaged citizens and dedicated architects, landscape architects, designers, and historians, the department formally named the Birmingham Architecture & Design Collection.