• IdentificationPUBLIC "-//The Art Institute of Chicago::Ryerson and Burnham Archives// (US::ICA::2010.6::RICHARD NICKEL ARCHIVE, 1850-2011 (bulk 1945-1972))//EN" "ica201006.xml"
  • TitleNickel, Richard, Archive, 1850-2011 (bulk 1945-1972)
  • PublisherRyerson and Burnham Archives, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, The Art Institute of Chicago
  • Language
    • English
    • English.
  • Date
    • 1850-2011
    • (bulk 1945-1972)
  • Physical Description
    • 76 linear feet (152 boxes), 9 oversize portfolios and flatfile materials
    • Black and white and color photographs, black and white and color contact prints, black and white and color slides, black and white and color transparencies, black and white and color negatives, photostats, correspondence, printed papers, photocopies, typescript papers, holograph papers, printed papers, maps, drawings, architectural reprographic prints, realia, VHS videocassettes and CD-ROMs.
  • RepositoryRyerson and Burnham Archives Ryerson and Burnham Libraries The Art Institute of Chicago 111 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60603-6110 (312) 443-7292 rbarchives@artic.edu
  • AbstractPhotographs, architectural research papers, correspondence, writings, personal papers, negatives and realia documenting the photography of Richard Nickel, his research on the work of Adler & Sullivan and his interest in architectural preservation.
  • OriginationNickel, Richard, -1972.
  • LocationThe bulk of this collection is housed in the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries' on-site stacks. The remainder of the collection is housed in off-site storage and is so designated by the abbreviation (OS) in the location column of the finding aid's item listing. Collections maintained in off-site storage will be retrieved with advance notification; please consult the Archivist for the current retrieval schedule. For further information, consult http://www.artic.edu/aic/libraries/rbarchives/rbarchaccess.html

Richard Stanley Nickel was born on May 31, 1928, in the Humboldt Park neighborhood in Chicago. His father, Stanley, was a newspaper truck driver and amateur photographer who gave Nickel his first exposure to photography. His mother, Agnes, worked in a factory. The family moved to the Logan Square neighborhood and eventually to the suburb of Park Ridge. After his high school graduation in 1946, Nickel enlisted in the Army, where he served as a paratrooper and military police officer in post-World War II occupied Japan until his discharge in 1948.

Upon his return Nickel enrolled at the Institute of Design (later the Illinois Institute of Technology or IIT) on the G.I. Bill. There he studied foundation courses for three semesters while intending to train as a commercial photographer. Nickel's studies were curtailed in 1950 when he was drafted into the Korean War. He served as a photographer attached to an Army engineering group. Nickel was discharged in 1951, after which he was briefly married to Adrienne Dembo.

Nickel then returned to the Institute of Design, studying under photographers Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. In Siskind's class, he worked with other students to photograph buildings designed by Louis Sullivan, which sparked a lifelong passion for the architect's work. Nickel coordinated a Louis Sullivan photograph exhibition at IIT and earned his B.A. in 1954, after which he began extensive research on Adler & Sullivan's architecture. Using clues from Hugh Morrison's Louis Sullivan: Prophet of Modern Architecture, Nickel claimed to find nine "lost" projects as well as 23 previously unknown built projects. During graduate school, Nickel worked at the IIT Audio-Visual Department, taking photographs of fellow students' architectural models and teaching photography classes at Wright Junior College. He earned his Master's degree in 1957 and thereafter began to establish himself as a commercial photographer.

Along with Adler & Sullivan buildings, Nickel documented many significant projects of the Chicago School and Prairie School. In addition to photographing buildings, sometimes just before or even during their demolition, Nickel salvaged architectural fragments and publicly protested the destruction of Chicago's architectural heritage via numerous letters to newspapers and civic leaders, and public demonstrations, hearings and committee work. Nickel's efforts helped increase public awareness and bolstered the growing historic preservation movement. His photographs also documented the rapidly changing Chicago skyline of the 1960s and early 1970s with images of the construction of Marina City, the Federal Center, Chicago Civic Center and other contemporaneous projects.

Richard Nickel died at age 43 on April 13, 1972, in Adler & Sullivan's Chicago Stock Exchange Building, while documenting its demolition. He was buried in Graceland Cemetery, not far from the grave of Louis Sullivan.

The Richard Nickel Committee--a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and making accessible the images and research work of Nickel--was founded in 1972, and has since then been involved in opening its collections to a wide range of scholars who have used this collection as a resource for many publications, including more than 300 books and published articles on architecture; seven video productions, including a documentary directed by Margie Newman and Jay Shefsky for PBS; two stage plays; and a film produced by Mark Smith and Whitecap Films. The committee has also previously participated in publication of books related to the life and work of Richard Nickel: They All Fall Down: Richard Nickel's Struggle to Save America's Architecture (1993); Richard Nickel's Chicago (2008); Aaron Siskind and Louis Sullivan: The Institute of Design Photo Section Project (2008); and Crombie Taylor: Modern Architecture, Building Restoration and the Rediscovery of Louis Sullivan (2010). In September 2010, the long-awaited publication, The Complete Architecture of Adler & Sullivan, was released by the Richard Nickel Committee after over 40 years of work. The impetus for the book originated in the 1950s with work Aaron Siskind and Richard Nickel created while at the Institute of Design; this publication was continued and completed by John Vinci and Ward Miller. A hardcover edition with 472 pages and 815 photographs, the volume includes a catalogue raisonné of the work of architects Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan.

This collection includes the photographs, contact prints, negatives, correspondence, architectural research papers, personal papers, realia and audio-visual materials documenting the work of American photographer Richard Nickel. Also included are the correspondence, professional papers and digital files of the Richard Nickel Committee, as well as papers relating to the publication of The Complete Architecture of Adler & Sullivan.

SERIES I: PHOTOGRAPHS. Organized into five subseries: 1. Architecture, Adler and Sullivan - filed alphabetically by project name. 2.Other Architects - filed alphabetically by architect name. 3. Early Work and Institute of Design (Illinois Institute of Technology) - subdivided into Nickel, Richard, Student Projects - filed alphabetically by Nickel's titles where available; Nickel, Richard, Photographs for Institute of Design Architecture Department - filed alphabetically by client name; and Photographs by Other Institute of Design Students - filed alphabetically by photographer. 4. Various Subjects - subdivided into Art and Artists; Events; Exhibitions; Nature; Nudes; People, Individuals; People, Groups, Professional Organizations; People, Groups, Street and Other Portraits; Photographic Studies (possibly RN's student work) and Miscellaneous. 5. Personal - subdivided into Awards and Honors; Exhibitions; Family and Friends; Military Service; Portraits of; Residence; Sailboat; Travel and Miscellaneous.

SERIES II: ARCHITECTURAL RESEARCH PAPERS. Organized into two subseries: 1. Adler and Sullivan - filed alphabetically by project name; 2. Other Architects - filed alphabetically by architect name.

SERIES III: CORRESPONDENCE. Organized into two subseries: 1. Nickel, Richard, General Correspondence - filed alphabetically by correspondent name; 2. Nickel, Richard and Purcell, William Gray, Correspondence - filed chronologically in most cases.

SERIES IV: WRITINGS. This series is partially restricted. Please contact the Archivist for further information. Organized into two subseries: 1. Complete Architecture of Adler and Sullivan - subdivided into Early Drafts; Later Drafts and Final Drafts and Galleys. 2. Other Writings - subdivided into By Richard Nickel and Miscellaneous and Unidentified.

SERIES V: PERSONAL PAPERS and REALIA. Items classified as realia are restricted from patron use. Please consult the Archivist for further information. Organized into two subseries: 1. Personal Papers - subdivided into Academics; Awards and Honors; Biographical; Books; Date Books; Exhibitions; General Files; Military Scrapbook (restricted from patron use); Published Photographs and Wrongful Death Lawsuit. 2. Realia - subdivided into Flashbulbs; Camera Equipment and Miscellaneous and Ropes.

SERIES VI: RICHARD NICKEL COMMITTEE PAPERS. Organized into six subseries: 1. Correspondence; 2. Grants; 3. CAAS Papers; 4. Financials; 5. Requests to Publish; 6. Digital Files.

SERIES VII: AUDIO-VISUAL MATERIALS. Organized into two subseries: 1. Patron Access; 2. Originals. Originals are restricted from patron use.

SERIES VIII: NEGATIVES. This series is restricted from patron use. Please consult the Archivist for further information. Organized into five subseries: 1. Architecture, Adler and Sullivan - filed alphabetically by project name. 2. Other Architects - filed alphabetically by architect name. 3. Early Work and Institute of Design (Illinois Institute of Technology) - subdivided into Nickel, Richard, Student Projects - filed alphabetically by Nickel's titles where available and Nickel, Richard, Photographs for Institute of Design Architecture Department - filed alphabetically by client name. 4. Various Subjects - subdivided into Art and Artists; Events; Exhibitions; Nature; Nudes; People, Individuals; People, Groups, Professional Organizations; People, Groups, Street and Other Portraits; Photographic Studies (possibly RN's student work) and Miscellaneous. 5. Personal - subdivided into Awards and Honors; Family and Friends; Portraits of; Residence; Sailboat; Teaching; and Travel.

  • Names
    • Nickel, Richard, -1972.
    • Adler and Sullivan.
    • Adler and Sullivan--Catalogues raisonnés.
    • Adler, Dankmar, 1844-1900.
    • Sullivan, Louis H., 1856-1924.
  • Subject
    • Architecture--Illinois--Chicago--History--19th century.
    • Architecture--Illinois--Chicago--History--20th century.

A&S AIC AL ALS AN ANS BOX.FF CR CHC CASF CSE CCHAL CAAS d/b/a Flatf. HABS ID IIT FLW LHS MMA MOMA n.d. OP (OS) Portf. RN SIU TC TCS TL TLS TN TNS WGP

Prints of Richard Nickel photographs are held in the permanent collection of the Photography Department at The Art Institute of Chicago.

Prints of Richard Nickel photographs are held in the permanent collection of the Photography Department at The Art Institute of Chicago.

Portions of this collection are restricted; wherever possible, surrogate copies are provided for patron use, as noted in the series listings. The remainder of collection may be used by qualified readers in the Reading Room of the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries at The Art Institute of Chicago. Collections maintained on-site are available for patron use without prior arrangement or appointment. Collections maintained in off-site storage will be retrieved with advance notification; please consult the Archivist for the current retrieval schedule. For further information, consult http://www.artic.edu/aic/libraries/rbarchives/rbarchaccess.html

The Art Institute of Chicago is providing access to the materials in the Libraries' collections solely for noncommercial educational and research purposes. The unauthorized use, including, but not limited to, publication of the materials without the prior written permission of the Art Institute is strictly prohibited. All inquiries regarding permission to publish should be submitted in writing to the Archivist, Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago. In addition to permission from the Art Institute, permission of the copyright owner (if not the Art Institute) and/or any holder of other rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) may also be required for reproduction, publication, distribution, and other uses. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of any item and securing any necessary permissions rests with the persons desiring to publish the item. The Art Institute makes no warranties as to the accuracy of the materials or their fitness for a particular purpose.

Richard Nickel Archive, Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago.

The majority of these materials were the gift of The Richard Nickel Committee, 2010. Additional materials were donated by Don and Harriet Nickel in 2011.

Before being transferred to the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries, the majority of these papers were in the care of The Richard Nickel Committee. Additional materials were held by Nickel's family members.

This collection was processed by Nathaniel Parks and Kim Krueger. The finding aid was written by Kim Krueger and Nathaniel Parks in 2013-2014.