Charette (vols. 1-54, 1920-1974) was the journal of the Pittsburgh Architectural Club and was later co-sponsored by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Pennsylvania Society of Architects. Over the years, its coverage of architecture extended beyond Pittsburgh to the entirety of Pennsylvania as well as the Tri-State area of eastern Ohio and West Virginia.
Charette featured criticism and commentary on architecture along with copious information about contemporary architectural projects and the activities of sponsoring architectural organizations. During the Depression, it was a chatty vehicle for connecting architects and keeping the profession active. After World War II, it grew increasingly professional in content and appearance and expanded to cover the growing architectural scene. During the 1960s, it became a vehicle for the writings of James D. Van Trump (1908-1995), Pittsburgh’s premier architectural writer and historian, who was associated with Charette from 1961 to 1971 as assistant editor, editor, and finally as co-publisher in partnership with Van Trump, Ziegler & Shane. Altogether, Van Trump's numerous articles represent a rich survey of historical and contemporary Pennsylvania architecture.
Charette has been known by the following titles, reflecting changes in sponsors and scope of coverage:
Charette: A Little Journal of Rejuvenation
Charette: Pittsburgh’s Journal of Architecture
Charette: Pittsburgh’s Journal of Architecture & Building
Charette: Tri-State Journal of Architecture & Building
Charette: Pennsylvania Journal of Architecture
What is a Charette?
The term “charette” evolved from a pre-1900 exercise at the École des Beaux-Arts in France. Architectural students were given a design problem to solve within an allotted time. When that time was up, the students would rush their drawings from the studio to the École in a cart called a charrette. Students often jumped in the cart to finish drawings on the way. The term evolved to refer to the intense design exercise itself. Today, it refers to a creative process akin to visual brainstorming that is used by design professionals to develop solutions to a design problem within a limited timeframe.
Other Publication Information
Charette was created by the Pittsburgh Architectural Club, but had additional sponsors during various periods:
Pittsburgh Architectural Club: February 1920 to Sept./Oct. 1971
Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Institute of Architects: various years
Pennsylvania Society of Architects: May 1951 to December 1960 and October 1962 to December 1967
Charette was originally published in-house by the Pittsburgh Architectural Club, but was later produced by a series of commercial publishers:
Pittsburgh Architectural Club [Inc.]: February 1920 to December 1947
John J. McKee: January 1948 to December 1959
R. W. Bingham: January 1960 to January 1961
Chatham Associates, Inc. / Thomas E. Morgan: September 1961 to October 1964
Van Trump, Ziegler & Shane, Inc.: January 1965 to Sept./Oct. 1971
Archimedia: Nov./Dec. 1971 to March/April 1974
Charette was published almost consistently for over fifty years in 568 issues (occupying approximately four linear feet), but there were times when publication was suspended:
began v.1 n.1: February 1920
suspended: January 1923 to November 1923
suspended: February 1946 to December 1946
suspended: February 1960 to June 1960
suspended: February 1961 to August 1961
issues not published: August to September 1964
issues not published: November to December 1964
ceased: March/April 1974
Accessing the Collection
Physical copies of The Charette are available by request from Carnegie Mellon University Libraries.
Archives associated with The Charette are held by the James D. Van Trump Library and Archives of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.
Dates of Publication
1920 - 1974
Copyright is held by Arthur P. Ziegler, formerly of Van Trump, Ziegler & Shane, Inc. Digitized and made available with permission.