The Giuseppe Zambonini Archive

  • Project: The Giuseppe Zambonini Archive
  • Location: The Kellen Design Archives, Parsons and The New School University
  • Materials digitized by: Melissa Grey (sound), Stephen Finney (photography)
  • Notes: Special thanks to Claudia Zambonini, Kenneth Henwood, Wendy Scheir
  • Archival materials: Courtesy of the Kellen Design Archives of The New School Archives and Special Collections, © Zambonini Estate
  • Photography: George Cserna, Jim D’Addio, Bill Hayward, Robert Kirkbride

Giuseppe Zambonini (1942-90) was an architect and educator whose innovative practice has had lasting influence on the New York and American architectural community. In 1977, Zambonini founded the Open Atelier of Design, which was conducted as an apprentice program and a design-build studio. In addition to a series of widely disseminated loft renovations that emphasized excellence in craftsmanship and blurred boundaries of architecture, interior design, industrial design and theater, the OAD staged one of the earliest NYC exhibits of Carlo Scarpa’s work, in 1983.

Recognized among the first of the New York Architecture League’s Emerging Voices (1982), Zambonini emphasized process exploration through drawing and full-scale making. The Open Atelier of Design, described by Zambonini as “partially school and partially studio,” featured instructors and lecturers such as Marco Frascari, Michael Kalil, George Ranalli, Lauretta Vinciarelli, Donald Judd, Peter Eisenman, Richard Serra, Steven Holl, Jean Gardner, Roger Ferri, Allan Wexler and many others. Zambonini also taught in graduate architecture programs at Yale and Columbia, was academic dean for the New York School of Interior Design, and directed the architecture program at Georgia Institute of Technology at the time of his unexpected death. I was one of Giuseppe’s last students, and was hired by his wife and collaborator, Claudia, to design several projects for their home in Dingman’s Ferry, PA, as well as their memorial stone in the Cimitero Monumentale, in Verona, Italy.

In 2013, I established The Giuseppe Zambonini Archive at The New School Archives and Special Collections, working closely with Claudia Zambonini and Kellen Design Archives Director Wendy Scheir. I coordinated the donation of drawings, models, recorded lectures and ephemera, and facilitated their preparation for online dissemination. The Zambonini Archive represents a unique convergence of architectural education and creative practice in New York City in the 1970’s and 80’s, offering a remarkable online asset of digitized lectures and research materials. It evidences the early influences of Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa in North American architecture, and includes all panels from what is one of the earliest exhibits of Scarpa’s work in New York City. Zambonini had previously completed his thesis with Scarpa at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia, in 1971.

In addition to materials donated by Claudia Zambonini, Melissa Grey and I gifted, with Claudia, 91 cassette recordings of lectures from the Open Atelier of Design and the 28 exhibit boards of Carlo Scarpa’s work composed and exhibited by the Open Atelier of Design in 1983, and at the Italian Cultural Institute, in 1985. Melissa Grey digitized all 91 cassette recordings, complete with search metadata; most of these files have already been uploaded. Research Assistant Stephen Finney photographed the Scarpa exhibit boards at high resolution; these too will soon be available online. School funds from Parsons School of Constructed Environments facilitated a formal launch event for the Archive and digitization of these archival materials.

Through an exhibit and lecture entitled, “Every Thought Flies: Launching the Zambonini Archive,” and a subsequent conversation with Paul Goldberger, we formally celebrated the archive’s arrival at Parsons and The New School. The exhibit featured projects and ephemera from the permanent collection produced by or related to Zambonini and the Open Atelier Design, along with newly digitized recordings of OAD lectures and the panels of the Scarpa exhibit.

Featured In

Giuseppe Zambonini Archive

The Kellen Design Archives of The New School

Every Thought Flies: Launching the Zambonini Archive

Lecture by Robert Kirkbride

Emerging Voices: 30 Year Retrospective

“Project Summary for Giuseppe Zambonini (1942-90).” Emerging Voices: 30 Year Retrospective, The Architecture League/Pentagram (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Architectural Press)

The Architect’s Newspaper

“The Zambonini Papers: Parsons design archive acquires another important collection,” William Menking, The Architect’s Newspaper print and online, 2.27.2014

“Every thought Flies: Zambonini at The New School”