Anne Griswold Tyng
Early Life and Education
Anne Griswold Tyng was born on July 14, 1920 in Jiangxi, China to Episcopal missionaries from Boston. Interested in architecture and design from a young age, Tyng spent much time during the summers in the city she was born in carving cities from soft stone. She moved to the United States in 1934 where she enrolled at Radcliffe College to study fine arts (1938-42). Tyng spent her final year studying at the Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture before graduating in 1942, and she subsequently became one of the first women to graduate from Harvard University with a Masters degree in Architecture in 1944. She went on to receive her Ph.D. in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania in 1975, conducting theoretical research in an array of disciplines to develop her thesis on “Simultaneous Randomness and Order: the Fibonacci-Divine Proportion as a Universal Forming Principle.” She passed away on December 27, 2011 in Greenbrae, California.
Career in Architecture
After receiving her Masters degree in Architecture, Anne Tyng worked for a number of firms in New York, including that of Konrad Wachsmann; the industrial design firm of Van Doren, Nowland, and Schladermundt; and Knoll Associates. In 1945, Tyng moved to Philadelphia where she joined the firm of Stonorov and Kahn. She remained there for nearly three decades and worked on many projects with Kahn, including the Mill Creek Redevelopment Plan, the Erdman Dormitory at Bryn Mawr, the Trenton Community Bath Houses, and the Yale University Art Gallery. Together, Tyng and Kahn collaborated on the proposed City Tower which was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in 1960. Tyng also invented the “Tyng Toy”, a kit of interlocking wooden pieces which could be assembled in a number of different designs.
In the mid-1950s, Tyng served as a founding member of the C.G. Jung Study Center of Philadelphia. At the same time, she served as a consulting architect to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, and was elected academician of the National Academy of Design (1975). She became a member of the American Institute of Architects in 1950 and received Fellowship into the American Institute of Architects in 1975.
Tyng’s works are expressive of her core interest in platonic solids. Her project “Anatomy of Form: The Divine Proportion in the Platonic Solids” earned her a fellowship (as one of the first women to do so) in 1965 from the Graham Foundation Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. In her research, she introduced and elaborated upon a theory of symmetry hierarchies and by extension, a search for enlightenment in architecture about human conciousness through confrontation with the beauty of all underlying forms.
In 1968, Tyng began to lecture on architecture at the University of Pennsylvania where she continued until 1995. Another great achievement of Tyng as a representative of American women architects was when she travelled to Ramsar, Iran in 1976 on behalf of the United States as a participant in the First International Congress of Women Architects.
As a conclusion to her long and successful career, Tyng was commissioned by the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and funded by the Graham Foundation in Chicago to create an installation which would encompass her philosophy about geometry, entitled “Anne Tyng: Inhabiting Geometry” (2011).
Major Buildings and Projects
- Collaboration with Kahn on Weiss House, (1947-50)
- Collaboration with Kahn on Genel House, (1948-51)
- Collaboration with Kahn on Radbill Building and Pincus Pavilion for the Philadelphia Psychiatric Hospital, (1948-54)
- Tyng Toy, (Prototype 1948, Release 1953) – Internationally recognized, a kit of interlocking wooden pieces which could be arranged and assembled into a variety of designs.
- Associate Consulting Architect for Southwest Temple Public Housing project, (1950-52)
- Associate Consulting Architect for University of Pennsylvania Study, (1951)
- Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT (1951) – Renowned for its reinforced concrete ceiling system, the building incorporates one of Tyng’s signature architectural elements, the tetrahedral. The Gallery employs the developing ‘servant spaces’ theory of Kahn’s firm which was probably influenced by Tyng’s own interests in geometric forms and which links the spatial and psychological relationship in the structure with the various components of the overall design.
- Associate Consulting Architect for Row House Studies, (1951-53)
- Associate Consulting Architect for Mill Creek Redevelopment Plan, (1951-54)
- Elementary School for Bucks County, proposed (1951, AIA Philadelphia exhibit 1952, AIA Philadelphia Yearbook Cover 1955)
- Walworth Tyng House, Cambridge, MD (1952-53) – This particular structure earned Tyng an Honorable Mention Award for its “ingenious structural systems”, as it is the first triangulated frame structure constructed as a living space. Inspired by the “octect” truss design distinctive of Buckminster Fuller, Tyng incorporates and extends the octahedron-tetrahedron truss to form asymmetrical windows, sunshades, and trellises which honor the original design of the house.
- Collaboration with Kahn on the un-built City Tower, Philadelphia Civic Center, (1953-56) – Extending the ideas of Louis Kahn, the proposed City Tower for Philadelphia’s Civic Center is representative of Tyng’s geometric principles presented in her doctoral thesis. The base is of tetrahedron design which supports the upward zig-zag structure caused by a shift in every six floors. Infusing the overall design with elements from molecular biology, the proposed City Tower is both innovative and unique in the degree to which it tests spatial limitations.
- Associate Consulting Architect of Trenton Bath House, Trenton, NJ (1955) – Tyng is responsible for significantly shaping the design of the Trenton Bath House at the Trenton Jewish Community Center. Recalling the strong spatial relationships created in the ceiling of the Yale University Art Gallery, the Bath House forms a cross-shape composed of four main rooms: the entrance, two changing rooms, and the porch, which ascends to an elevated pool at the center of the entire structure in an uncovered atrium. Sunlight pours in through the space between the walls of each room and their respective pyramidal roofs, which are supported by steel boots mounted in the corners of each wall. It is evident in the design of the Trenton Bath House that Tyng’s prevailing geometric principles play a role in linking the individual forms of the structure and enhance the effects of natural light.
- Wharton Esherick Studio, (1955-56)
- Mill Creek Housing Project, (1955-1962)
- Martin Marietta Baltimore Research Center, (1956-57)
- Lead Designer of Clever House, (1957-62)
- Erdman Dormitories at Bryn Mawr College, proposed (1958)
- Lead Designer of Shapiro House, (1958-62)
Press and Awards
- Honorable Mention Award for “Ingenious Structural Systems” in Walworth Tyng House – Philadelphia Chapter of AIA (1953)
- Earned Brunner Grant from New York Chapter American Institute of Architecture (1963)
- Awarded fellowship from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Study in Fine Arts to develop research on “Anatomy of Form” (1965)
- Awarded fellowship into the American Institute of Architects (1975)
- Received second fellowship from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Study in Fine Arts to study history and urban purposes of London’s civic squares (1979)
- Earned second Brunner Grant to fund research for London civic square project from the American Institute of Architects (1983)
- Received the John Harbeson Distinguished Service Award – Philadelphia Chapter of AIA (1991)
- Tyng, Anne G. 1975. “Simultaneous Randomness and Order: the Fibonacci-Divine Proportion as a Universal Forming Principle.” PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania.
- Tyng, Anne G. 1968. “Urban Space Systems as Living Form.” (Three-Part essay), Architecture Canada 45: no. 11, 12. Vol 46: no. 1.
- Tyng, Anne G. 1969. “Geometric Extensions of Consciousness.” Zodiak: A Review of Contemporary Architecture 19: 130-73.
- Tyng, Anne G. 1978. “Seeing Order: Systems and Symbols.” In Hypergraphics: Visualizing Complex Relationships in Art, Science and Technology, edited by David W. Bisson, (Boulder: Westview Press).
- Tyng, Anne G. 1989. “From Muse to Heroine: Toward a Visible Creative Identity.” In Architecture: A Place for Women, edited by Ellen Perry Berkeley and Matilda McQuaid, (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press), 171-85.
- Tyng, Anne G. 1985. “The Energy of Abstraction in Architecture: A Theory of Creativity.” Pratt Journal of Architecture: 32-8.
- Tyng, Anne G. 1983. “Resonance Between Eye and Archetype.” Via: 46-67.
- Tyng, Anne G. 1984. “Architecture is My Touchstone.” Radcliffe Quarterly 70.
- Tyng, Anne G. 1990. “Individuation and Entropy as Creative Cycle in Architecture.” In C.G. Jung and the Humanities: Toward a Hermeneutics of Culture, edited by Karin Barnaby and Pelligrino D’Acierno, (Princeton: Princeton University Press).
- Tyng, Anne G. 1997. Louis Kahn to Anne Tyng: The Rome Letters, 1953-54. New York: Rizzoli.
- Fellow of the American Institute of Architects
- Academician of the National Academy of Design
- Visiting Critic, University of Texas
- Visting Professor, Cooper Union
- Lecturer in Architecture, Drexel University
- Lecturer in Metamorphology, T. Square Atelier Philadelphia
- Visting Critic for Architecture at Carnegie-Mellon, Pittsburg
- Visting Critic for Architecture at Rennselaer Polytechnic University
- Lecturer in Architecture at Pratt University
- Professor of Architecture, Penn State
- “Metamorphology: New Sources of Form Making” (1971), Philadelphia, PA. Exhibited her work “Urban Hierarchy”
- “Women in the Design of the Environment” (1974)
- Represented in “Women in American Architecture: A Historic and Contemporary Perspective” (1977), Brooklyn Museum, NY. Organized by the Architectural League of New York.
- “Two on Two at the Octagon” (1979)
- “Visionary Drawings of Architecture and Planning, 1900 through the 1960’s” (1979-82), The Drawing Center, NY. Exhibited her work “Urban Hierarchy”
- “Exhibit 87: Work and Play” (1987), hosted by Austin Women in Architecture
- “Advanced Structures Around the World” (1988), Syracuse University, NY. Exhibited her work “Four Poster House”
- “The Exceptional One: Women in American Architecture 1888-1988” (1988), New York, NY. Organized by the AIA Women in Architecture Committee, turns into nationwide exhibit.
- “Anne Tyng: Inhabiting Geometry” (2011), Philadelphia, PA. Funded by the Graham Foundation and exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), the installation featured life-size models of the five platonic solids (tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron). The models along with select material from Ms. Tyng’s archives demonstrated the major themes of her theoretical research as introduced into the world of contemporary architecture through her projects. Essentially, the exhibition sought to introduce the complexity of advanced geometric forms and the how they are found in nature.