Anne Griswold Tyng was an architect, a professor, a theorist, and a pioneer of habitable space-frame architecture. She was the first female to attend the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She wrote substantially about geometric architecture, exploring ways to apply numeric and natural systems to buildings and urban design. Wistfully, architectural history remembers Tyng only as one of the pioneering engineering partners of Louis Kahn and has inexorably dismissed Tyng as a leading, self-contained, and an upbeat woman. She got fame way too late in her life. Alas! She stayed as a competent woman disguised as a shadow which she ironically never could escape.
Tyng had very few yet remarkable solo projects which are enlisted below:
1. Anne Tyng’s former residence
This residence speaks about Tyng’s legacy and is her most powerful expression.
She renovated her house in the 1960s and made additions to it. One can find Tyng’s papers in the architectural archives at the University of Pennsylvania wherein she has included brochures for all the small-scaled gadgets. She had armed her kitchen with the avant-garde engineering drawings of the third-floor addition, a wooden space frame that resembles some exceptional form of origami.
One of the later owners of the house says, “Living here feels like walking in music.”
The house has a lifetime of radical architectural thinking tightly packed into its 1,300 square feet. The new owner of the house simply has decided to preserve the heritage designed by a woman who never had a role played in the forefront, thus the endowment by the lady!
2. Four-Poster House
Tyng became the first architect to frame a traditional peaked-roof house with a fully triangulated three-dimensional truss while designing the extension to her parent’s house.
This structure leaves the region ecologically intact as it is connected to the ground only at its four central concrete foundation piers and the rest is cantilevered.
Unfortunately, this structure was lost in the fire of the ’90s but four models exist in the permanent collection of the architectural archives of the University of Pennsylvania.
3. Tyng Toy
A noteworthy contribution to children’s art was made by Tyng with this toy. It is an assembly of a total of 11 parts with basic 5 parts which can be assembled in various assemblies.
This project makes Tyng equivalent to Ray and Charles Eames or Isomu Noguchi, who took children’s education solemnly and softened the male machismo of modernism.
4. Platonic Solid
In 1965, Anne Tyng was the first woman to receive a fellowship from the Graham Foundation for her project ‘Anatomy of Form’ – The Divine Proportion in the Platonic Solids.
5. Urban Hierarchy
The intricate plans, elevations, and models for her pioneering but little-known Urban Hierarchy project in 1969–71 elucidate how she translated her immense love for basic geometric elements into viable structures and systematic social solutions that are human in scale and materiality.
Tyng spent most of her career working as an associate partner with Louis I Kahn. The projects they worked on together are listed below:
6. Yale University Art Gallery
Built-in collaboration between Tyng and Khan, this structure was a breakthrough for Khan’s career. As a need for a new art gallery with a modernist structure, this was designed. One of the most celebrated structures in both Tyng and Khan’s career.
The concrete tetrahedral slab ceiling which was the most magnificent element of the design was inspired by the geometric forms of Buckminster Fuller and was designed by Tyng. Although the pristinely restored facade, the interior still triumphs.
7. City Tower
City Tower, an integral futuristic project engulfed into turning every level to connect it with the one below, making a continuous complex structure.
The tower seems to be in motion due to its unique design but in reality, it’s stable.
Although never built, this structure was represented at the Museum of Art Exhibit Visionary Architecture in New York City in 1960.
8. The Trenton Bath House
This project is not a bathhouse as it means but an entrance and a changing room for patrons of an outdoor swimming pool and is an element of a community center campus.
Nine square plan is based on a tarton grid with square corner piers being the primary structure.
9. Wharton Esherick Museum
Wharton Esherick Studio, now a museum, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1993.
10. Bryn Mawr Erdman Hall
This was a modern Scottish castle. Three diamond-shaped units connecting form the largest dining space in the college and splendid meeting space.
11. Salk Institute for biological studies
This biological study institute was built for Jonas Salk.
He had asked to “create a facility worthy of a visit by Picasso,” and thus the institute carries its function along with enormous beauty amidst its architecture.
12. Weiss House
This one-story house displays a perfect blend of history and one of its kind’s architecture.
Once a profound piece of architecture now is on the verge of depletion. This house has been declared at risk by Preservation Pennsylvania.
13. Mill Creek Redevelopment Plan
This was built in two phases and consisted of three 17- story high rises. The urbanist architecture had left the world spellbound. A perfect blend of design and utility is now left only on the pages of history!
14. Civic Center project, Philadelphia
An idea of a city surrounded by massive cylindrical parking; towers defending the center was thought of but never came into existence.
15. Redevelopment plan for Philadelphia
Another visionary project which never came into existence, this showcases urbanist visions of Kahn and Tyng.
A gem of our fraternity, Tyng left for her heavenly aboard in 2011. We all do honor, respect, and appreciate the contribution by Anne Tyng!