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Geraldine Pontius Architectural Collection

Identifier: Ms-2021-003

Content Description

This collection consists of drawing sets, both blue-line diazotype drawings and mylar (vellum) renderings, of Pontius's work done while working at I.M. Pei and Partners, RTKL, and independently at her eponymous New York-based firm. Records include drawings for 24 projects Pontius worked on in some capacity, and 3 drawing sets collected by Pontius for reference or other purposes while she worked at I.M. Pei and Partners. Projects range from residential renovations to large-scale housing developments to commercial building designs. Additional materials are expected in the future.


  • 1966 - 1990


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from the Geraldine Pontius Architectural Collection must be obtained from Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech. Ms. Pontius requests that anyone wishing to reproduce these materials do so under the terms of a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 Creative Commons license, i.e., they must only use images for non-commercial purposes, derivatives are prohibited, and they must properly attribute them. Copyright for the collected I.M. Pei drawing sets was not transferred to the archives, and any right to reproduce these images must be sought from the originating firm.

Biographical / Historical

Geraldine Carol Pontius was born on January 24, 1947 in Greensburg, Pennsylvania to parents Paul Edward and Doris Norma (nee Hesselmeyer) Pontius. She studied mathematics at Barnard College, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1968. She went on to study at the New York Studio of Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture before obtaining a Master of Architecture at Columbia University in 1975.

Pontius has worked as an architect, artist, and lecturer. Early in her career, she collaborated often with performance artist Laurie Anderson, appearing in her 1974 film Dearreader: How To Turn a Book Into a Movie and her multimedia piece United States, I-IV, which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1983.

As an architect she’s worked in private practice, and as a designer and draftsperson for several large firms, such as I.M. Pei and Partners, RTKL Associates, and Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. While working at RTKL, she was the lead architect for One South Street Office Tower, also known as Commerce Place, a high-rise office building and the fourth tallest skyscraper in Baltimore. Her work has been featured in many exhibitions and publications, including Architectural Record, Progressive Architecture, and Art in America.

In 2015 she collaborated with poet Sarah Smith on a submission to The Light Ekphrastic, a journal devoted to nurturing collaboration between artists; the journal published Smith’s poem alongside Pontius’s gallery of images taken at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. She continues to work as a visual artist, and splits her time between Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.


1.75 Cubic Feet (15 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



The Geraldine Pontius Architectural Collection contains individual renderings and drawing sets for 24 projects worked on by Pontius and 3 construction drawing sets she collected while working at I.M. Pei and Partners.


Items are arranged into two series: project records (from projects Pontius worked on) and other collected drawing sets (all created by I.M. Pei and Partners, collected and not worked on by Pontius, for reference or other purposes). The first series is divided by architectural firm and further organized by project date. All of the documents are stored flat in map cases.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Geraldine Pontius Architectural Collection was donated to the International Archive of Women in Architecture in late 2020.


Additional donations expected.

Processing Information

Materials in the Geraldine Pontius Architectural Collection were arranged and described in spring of 2021.

A Guide to the Geraldine Pontius Architectural Collection, 1966-1990
Processed by Jade Snelling
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US