Skip to main content

Kevin Lynch papers

Identifier: MC-0208

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The collection documents the professional activities of Kevin Lynch from 1934 to 1988. Material in this collection covers research data, correspondence, course material, trip diaries, and manuscripts.


  • Creation: 1934 - 1988


Access note

This collection is open. However, series 2 of this collection is not fully processed and materials must be reviewed to identify any restricted material before access can be granted. Please submit your requests at least ten business days before your desired visit to allow time for this review. An archivist will respond within five business days to let you know whether your requested material is open. For complete information on this policy, see our Statement on Accessing Institute Records.

Digital Access Note

Some parts of this collection are available online. Links to specific online digital items are found within their entry in this finding aid.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.

Biographical Note

Kevin Andrew Lynch was born in Illinois in 1918. He began his study of architecture at Yale University in 1935; then Taliesin (under Frank Lloyd Wright), 1937-1939 and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1939-1940. He earned a B.C.P. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1947. He was appointed instructor in city planning at MIT in 1948, assistant professor in 1949, associate professor in 1955, and professor in 1963. Lynch retired from MIT in 1978 to found, with Stephen Carr, the design firm Carr, Lynch and Associates.

Lynch consulted for many cities in the United States and abroad on projects including Boston's Government Center and Waterfront Park, Detroit's Riverfront, major art institutions in Dallas, and urban design plans in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. Lynch's publications include The Image of the City (1960), which summarizes a five-year study he directed with Gyorgy Kepes on how people perceive their cities; What Time Is This Place? (1972), which examines how time may be passed in cities, as well as urban conservation; and Growing Up in Cities (1977), which he edited and which explores how environments affect children.

Lynch influenced the field of city planning through his work on the theory of city form, and on the perception of the city environment and its consequences for city design. Kevin Lynch died in April 1984.


16.5 Cubic Feet (12 record cartons, 8 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box, 4 medium flat boxes, 1 large flat box, 3 small media boxes, 1 slide box and 2 loose drawings, 10 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



This collection documents the career of Kevin Lynch. Lynch was a member of the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1948 to 1978 in the Department of City and Regional Planning, and was a leader in the field of city planning and urban redevelopment. Material in this collection covers research data, correspondence, course material, trip diaries, and manuscripts.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is organized into two series: Perceptual Form of the City Files, 1951-1969 and "Other Materials to be Processed".

Container 6, Series 1: Perceptual Form of the City is listed under folder "Jersey City and Los Angeles"; Container 7, Series 1: Perceptual Form of the City is listed under folder "Field Analysis: Whole City"; Container 8, Series 1: Perceptual Form of the City is listed under folder "Early Interviews and Student Maps"; Container 9, Series 1: Perceptual Form of the City is listed under folder 1 and 2 of "Boston Image".


Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.

Acquisition note

Materials were given to the Department of Distinctive Collections (formerly the Institute Archives and Special Collections) by Kevin Lynch and the family of Kevin Lynch in 1979, 1980, 1982, 1986, 1989, 1993, and 1997.

Processing Information

In 2008 a portion of the Kevin Lynch papers was processed as part of a digitization project sponsored by the MIT Libraries. The processed material became Series. Perceptual Form of the City. Selected material from this series was digitized for the Perceptual Form of the City collection, which as of 2009 is located in DOME (

Location of Copies

Digital surrogates of selected material from the series, Perceptual Form of the City, can be accessed through the MIT Libraries digital repository, DOME, at

Related Archival Materials

The Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Department Officers (1954) Grant Award Report for MIT Lynch–Kepes City Planning Study, 7 April. Foundation RG 1.2, MIT City Planning. Ser. 200R, Box 375, Folder 3330.30, Rockefeller Archive Center, Sleepy Hollow, New York.

The Kepes-Lynch Photograph Collection in the MIT Libraries, Rotch Visual Collections. The photograph collection is also available at

The Louise Chawla papers on the Growing Up in Cities project, 1997-2005, collection MC 651 in the MIT Department of Distinctive Collections, may also be of interest.

Works related to Kevin Lynch

  • Lynch, Kevin, Tridib Banerjee, and Michael Southworth. City Sense and City Design : Writings and Projects of Kevin Lynch. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1990.
  • Dream and Reality Architecture and Urban Planning, an Interview with Kevin Lynch. Video recording, 1980.
  • Appleyard, Donald. The Major Published Works of Kevin Lynch : An Appraisal. Berkeley: Institute of Urban & Regional Development, University of California, Berkeley, 1978.


  • Appleyard, Donald, Kevin Lynch, and John Randolph Myer. The View from the Road. Cambridge: Published for the Joint Center for Urban Studies of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University by the MIT Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1964.
  • Lynch, Kevin. A Theory of Good City Form. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1981.
  • Lynch, Kevin. The Image of the City. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1960.
  • Lynch, Kevin and Tridib Banerjee. Growing Up in Cities: Studies of the Spatial Environment of Adolescence in Cracow, Melbourne, Mexico City, Salta, Toluca, Warszawa. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1977.
  • Lynch, Kevin. What Time is this Place? Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1972.
  • Lynch, Kevin. Managing the Sense of a Region. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1976.
  • Lynch, Kevin and Michael Southworth. Wasting Away. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1990.
  • Lynch, Kevin. "How We See Our Cities." Technology Review 63 (January 1961): 19-21.
Preliminary Inventory to the Papers of Kevin Lynch
Preliminary Inventory
copyright 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2021 November 22: Edited by Lana Mason for compliance with DACS single-level optimum requirements.
  • 2023 February 14: Revised by processing archivist Chris Tanguay to add access notes and enhance existing description.

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US