New Exhibit Showcases Tucson Architect's Plans
UA Special Collections is hosting an exhibition that will showcase the plans and renderings of local architectural icon Josias Joesler.

By Gabrielle Sykes-Casavant, UA Libraries
May 28, 2010

Structures designed by the early 20th century Tucson architect Josias Joesler include the St. Philip’s In the Hills Episcopal Church, St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church and the Broadway Village Shopping Center.

To commemorate Joesler's work, the University of Arizona Libraries is hosting a special exhibit, one that also marks the library's ongoing effort to provide electronic access to thousands of Joesler’s architectural drawings and plans. 

The exhibit, which opens June 1 and will run through August 21, will be on display at Special Collections, located at 1510 E. University Blvd. The library will feature original architectural drawings, conceptual plans and photographs of Joesler buildings.

Also, an opening lecture, "Josias Joesler & John W. Murphey: An Architectural Legacy for Tucson," will be held June 1 at 7 p.m. UA architectural scholar R. Brooks Jeffery will speak during the event, which also will be held at Special Collections.

A book carrying the same name will be available for purchase and light refreshments will be served at the lecture.
Jeffery described Joesler as “an architectural linguist.”

Swiss-born Joesler work blended many contemporary and revival styles, including Spanish Colonial and Pueblo Revival and also Swiss, Tudor, Greek, Italianate, Art Deco and Art Moderne.

His buildings were marked by wrought ironwork, decorative glazed and unglazed tiles, ceiling beams, wall niches, stained concrete floors, hand-carved wooden doors and his signature “wind flags,” which resembled weather vanes.
Joesler studied architecture in Bern, Switzerland. He also studied engineering in Heidelberg and drawing at the Sorbonne in Paris.

After emigrating to the U.S., Joesler initially lived in California. Tucson developer and builder John Murphey eventually persuaded Joesler to move to Arizona, which he did in 1927.

Murphey saw Joesler’s virtuosity with a wide-ranging palate of styles and his technical expertise as the perfect fit for his goal of promoting Tucson as resort destination for the elite. During 1928 alone, Murphey provided Joesler with 56 jobs, beginning a patron-architect relationship that would last more than 30 years.
The library’s exhibit and creation of a digital Joesler collection was made possible by a grant from The Southwestern Foundation for Education and Historical Preservation and was developed by the University Libraries in collaboration with the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

The aim of the digital collection is to help preserve and maintain access to Joesler’s increasingly fragile works, which are viewed every year by faculty members, students, architects, historians, homeowners and real estate officers.

Joesler’s collection of architectural drawings contains thousands of plans for both public and residential buildings, extant and destroyed.

To date, approximately 1,000 images from the 1920s through the 1950s have already been scanned. The Joesler exhibit was curated by UA librarian Paula Wolfe with curatorial assistance from UA students Megan Maureen Wedel of the School of Architecture and Niamh Wallace, an Honors College student, of the School of Information Resources and Library Science.

Extra info

Special Collections at the University Libraries maintains rare books and unique archival materials that make possible in-depth research on selected topics. The scope and diversity of Special Collections make it an important resource for the international academic community. Established in 1958 to house materials on Arizona, the Southwest, and the U.S./Mexico borderlands, Special Collections now includes rare books, manuscript collections, photographs, and other materials in a wide variety of subject areas.


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Gabrielle Sykes-Casavant

UA Libraries