Fry and Drew: Current Research

Tropical Architecture in … Massachusetts

Jane Drew

From February to June 1961, Jane Drew took up a visiting professorship at MIT in Boston. Ostensibly this was to allow an uninterrupted period of work on the manuscript for Tropical Architecture in the Dry and Humid Zones (1964), yet it also allowed Drew to undertake lucrative television and radio interviews, and she toured Canada giving lectures in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver. Perhaps most significantly, the post enabled Drew to participate in the lively modernist architectural community in New England. She wrote to Maxwell Fry back in London:

‘I have seen everyone lunched with Gropius dined with Serge [Chermayeff], drinks with Sert breakfast with Gidion [sic]. Have started my class taken part in a jury with Kahn its all very stimulating and interesting and I am learning at quite a rate.’

She also worked with Eduardo Catalano (1917-2010), the Argentinian-born architect and a professor at MIT. Drew was perhaps already acquainted with him through his six-year post at the Architectural Association (AA) in London, which began in 1945. Their collaboration was an important one: Drew and Catalano established a MIT Tropical Architecture course using the AA’s Tropical Architecture programme as a model. Established by Fry and Drew in 1955, the AA course was the first of its kind  and the couple evidently saw it as a blueprint for other institutions to use and develop. At MIT Drew and Catalano did just that as Drew later wrote to Fry:

‘Catelanno [sic] and I have worked hard and produced a course on tropical architecture for M.I.T. very different from that at the A.A. and I think better but life has to evolve slowly.’

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