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Ali Tayar Archive

Identifier: AKDC-2017-0003

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A booklet containing sketches, floorplans, renderings, and elevations of a proposed residence in Beirut, Lebanon.
A booklet containing sketches, floorplans, renderings, and elevations of a proposed residence in Beirut, Lebanon.

Browse 14 digital objects in collection

Content Description

The Ali Tayar Archive in the Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT consists of approximately 40 cubic feet of textual, graphic, photographic, and representational material. The textual materials include articles, business records, correspondence, lectures, notes, project proposals, reports, and submissions; the graphic materials are in the form of diagrams, drawings, elevations, maps, plans, sections, sketches, and visual reference material; the photographic materials are printed photographs, slides, negatives, transparencies, and digital files; the representational material is in the form of a scale architectural model. The collection includes a particularly strong selection of pulbicity materials created by Tayar and colleagues at Parallel Design Partnership detailing architectural, interior, and furniture design projects.


  • Creation: 1983-2016
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1994-2014


Language of Materials

Materials in this collection archive are in English, or occasionally in German.


Materials in this collection are open to research.

Biographical / Historical Note

Ali Tayar was born in Istanbul, Turkey in 1959. Tayar attended the Deutsche Schule Istanbul before entering the architectural engineering program at the University of Stuttgart in Germany. In Stuttgart he received an education in keeping with the modernist traditions of minimalism, functionalism, building system design, and prefabrication. Following his time in Germany, Tayar received his Masters of Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where his graduate thesis, “Design Approaches to Structural Optimization,” was published in 1986.

Tayar’s first job after graduate school saw him designing airplane hangars for Lev Zetlin Associates in New York. In 1988 he joined the team that designed the Carlos Moseley Music Pavilion for the Metropolitan Opera, a portable band shell that facilitated outdoor performances in the New York area. Tayar spent the majority of his career working in and around New York City where, in 1993, he founded Parallel Design Partnership with Ellen Levy, a close friend and early patron of Tayar who serves as an associate professor in the Media Studies Department at Pratt Institute. In 1995 his ‘NEA Table,’ a recycled particleboard construction designed while he was living on the funds from an National Endowment for the Arts grant, was featured in the Museum of Modern Art exhibition ‘Mutant Materials in Contemporary Design,’ curated by Paola Antonelli.

Tayar embraced the streamlined functionalism of modernist design combined with cutting-edge technology. Tayar’s furniture and interior designs, which were engineered to function as a “kit-of-parts,” were inspired by Fritz Haller’s modular furniture designs for the Swiss firm USM Modular Furniture. International Contract Furnishings (ICF) and USM briefly mass produced several of Tayar’s designs, including the Rasamny chairs and the Plaza Screen. Tayar’s architectural portfolio includes the interiors for Pop and Waterloo restaurants in New York City, the Omnia Hotel in Zermatt, Switzerland, and numerous private residences in the United States, South Africa and Lebanon.

Furniture and products such as Ellen’s brackets, the Plaza screen, and the ICON work wall were regularly lauded by architectural and design critics in the 1990s and early 2000s, and these objects were featured in exhibitions such as “Workspheres,” at the Museum of Modern Art, “Aluminum by Design,” at the Cooper-Hewitt, and “U.S. Design, 1975-2000,” at the Denver Art Museum. Tayar’s work is represented in the collections of the Denver Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Carnegie Art Museum in Pennsylvania, and the Musee des Arts Decoratifs de Montreal.

Sources consulted during preparation of biographical note:

Antonelli, Paola. “The New York Design Renaissance.” Abitare 384 (May 1999): 176-185.

Bernstein, Fred. "Ali Tayar, New York-Based Architect and Designer, Dies at 57." Interior Design, February 24, 2016.

Kellogg, Craig. “Texas Tech.” Interior Design 83, no. 12 (October 2012): 178-185.

Ngo, Dong. "Ali Tayar: Systems and One-Offs." New York: R & Company, 2017.

Tayar, Ali. "Design Porfolio." Parallel Design Partnership, Ltd., 2008.


44 Linear Feet (Currently, there are a single 5-drawer flat file cabinet; 28 tubes of rolled oversize material and drawings; 15 flat boxes; 2 record cartons; 71 document boxes. The majority will stay in this configuration, some of the large drawings may eventually be rehoused following removal from the Center in March of 2020, to be housed with other archival collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections' storage spaces.)


The Ali Tayar Archive covers many of the works of the late architect and designer Ali Tayar. Present in the collection are records concerning works of architecture, interior design, and furniture/product design. Also included are works from design competitions, special projects, publicity materials, ephemera, and photographic materials.


The collection is arranged into 9 series: Series 0: Early Work; Series 1: Special Projects; Series 2: Project Files 1993-2016; Series 3: Sketchbooks 1984-2016; Series 4: Publications 1993-2015; Series 5: Parallel Design 1993-2016; Series 6: Reference Materials; Series 7: Photographic Materials; Series 8: Additional Projects.

General Physical Condition

Most of the contents of this archive (drawings, printed matter, photographs, mixed materials, publications, photocopies, and original documents) arrived in very good condition. However, there were many documents throughout the project files which were on fax paper and fading. Most of these have been reformatted on photocopy paper for preservation purposes.

Processing Information

Finding Aid created by Andy Hayt, 2019. Aga Khan Documentation Center Collections Archivist, Elisabeth Baldwin, oversaw collection processing and finding aid creation.

Ali Tayar Archive
Under Revision
Andy Hayt, Elisabeth Baldwin
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Aga Khan Documentation Center, MIT Libraries
Edition statement
First edition published, as of 2020-03-30, only this cover page of the printed edition is still in draft form, and will be updated.

Repository Details

Part of the Aga Khan Documentation Center, MIT Libraries Repository

Cambridge US