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Living with Architecture as Art

Living with Architecture as Art


The Peter May Collection of Architectural Drawings, Models and Artefacts

This stunning two-volume publication introduces readers to one of the largest private collections of architectural drawings in the world. Showcasing drawings and related models and artefacts dating from 1691 to the mid 20th century, this lavish tome includes both a catalogue and new texts by leading authorities and provides a fascinating look at these often very beautiful by-products of architectural training and practice.


One of the largest private collections of architectural drawings in the world has been assembled over 30 years by investor and philanthropist Peter May. Comprising more than 600 sheets that have all been carefully preserved and handsomely framed, the drawings and related models and artefacts date from 1691 to the mid 20th century. This handsome two-volume publication will introduce amateurs and specialists alike to the largely unknown collection. The book includes a catalogue and innovative texts by leading authorities that present the raison-d’être for the production and preservation of these sometimes neglected by-products of architectural training and practice that have been collected off-and-on through history by individuals and institutions.


The architectural sheets acquired for the collection are principally 19th- or early 20th-century competition or certification drawings by design students. Others are presentation drawings for public commissions, reconstruction studies or interior designs. The catalogue is arranged by category, to demonstrate May’s inclination towards specific building types such as commercial or cultural institutions, train stations and spas, landmarks and monuments, private and royal residences, and cast-iron architecture. Also included is a category for landscape designs and garden architecture, reflecting May’s experience as a gentleman farmer with a predilection for building.


Peter May informs the reader about his history as a collector and builder. Maureen Cassidy-Geiger discusses the formation of the collection and with Basile Baudez introduces the French system of architectural education, from which some of the finest drawings come. Charles Hind offers a history of design training in Britain and writes about patterns of collecting and the market for architectural drawings. Matthew Wells’s subject is the history of architectural models.

  • January 2021

    Published by Ad Ilissvm

    Hardback, 360 x 310 mm

    2 vols., 352 pages each, 800 colour illus.

    ISBN: 978-1-912168-19-4

  • Exhibition & Author Events

    The Art of Architecture: Beaux-Arts Drawings from

    the Peter May Collection

    The New York Historical Society

    9 April – 13 June 2021


    Institute of Classical Architecture & Art 

    Virtual event (New York, New York)

    8 June 2021

    A conversation with Peter W. May and Maureen Cassidy-Geiger; moderated by Mark Ferguson. 


  • In the press

    "A fine two-volume set accompanied by scholarly commentaries ... the phrase 'living with architecture' can be a cliché but it can also have real meaning. These drawings capture a great deal of life ... you can feel a kind of embrace from these drawings, a comforting maternal instruct in action: that's why architecture is rightfully known as the mother of all the arts." –World of Interiors


    ""an invaluable resource, offering unsurpassed documentation of May’s extensive collection, and containing some of the largest and best reproductions of architectural drawings in any book I have seen."—Architectural Histories

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