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Christopher Tunnard papers

Call Number: MS 1070

Scope and Contents

The Christopher Tunnard Papers contain correspondence, topical files, writings, teaching files, and printed and pictorial material which document Tunnard's career as a landscape designer, city planning consultant, author, and professor of city planning. The papers were donated by Tunnard's son Christopher Tunnard in 1983. Layouts for the Inwood Planning Study were transferred from the Yale Art and Architecture Library to Manuscripts and Archives in 1979.

Series I, CORRESPONDENCE AND TOPICAL FILES, contains material which documents aspects of Tunnard's professional career. Material of a personal nature within the series consists of biographical sketches and curriculum vitae, fragmentary family correspondence, clippings, memorabilia, and legal and financial documents.

The bulk of the material dates from 1952 to 1975 and includes correspondence relating to his teaching activities at Harvard (predominately after 1945), Yale, and other universities; correspondence with university faculty members and city planning professionals who guest lectured at Yale; and materials relating to Tunnard's administrative activities within the Yale City Planning Department. The series also includes correspondence with publishers of his books and articles; correspondence, printed material, and reports relating to the consulting work Tunnard performed for various city and citizen interest groups; and materials relating to his international research and consulting projects. Correspondents include Henry Hope Reed, Joseph Hudnut, John Pearce, C. McKim Norton, Boris Pushkarev, Richardson Wood, and Coleman Woodbury.

Tunnard's active membership in professional associations is documented by correspondence, newsletters, and reports relating to conferences, local and regional meetings, and special projects. Associations represented in the papers include the American Institute of Architects, the American Institute of Planners, the History of Planning Group, the International Council of Monuments and Sites, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Society of Architectural Historians. New Haven organizations represented in the series include the New Haven City Plan Commission and the New Haven Preservation Trust. These files contain correspondence with New Haven city officials and fellow members of the organizations, and printed material.

Series II, WRITINGS, consists of outlines, notes, drafts, typescripts, galleys, and published copies of Tunnard's books, articles, reviews, speeches, and lectures.

Series III, TEACHING FILES, includes course files which contain syllabi, notes, and lectures from courses taught at Harvard, Yale, and other academic institutions. Because Tunnard interfiled teaching materials he used for similiar courses at various academic institutions, these files have been arranged by generic course titles rather than by specific course numbers and titles. The topic files contain notes and printed matter that complement the materials within the course files. Files of student papers include master's theses, class papers, and projects. Folders containing copies of examination questions and fragmentary notes follow the course and topic files.

Series IV, PICTORIAL MATERIAL, consists of photographs, prints, and drawings used to illustrate A World With a View; materials used to conduct preliminary research and to document UNESCO cultural missions; personal photographs; and miscellaneous illustrative materials relating to Tunnard's professional interests.


  • 1907-1978


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from Yale University Art and Architecture Library, 1979, and gift of Christopher Tunnard, 1983.


Arranged in four series: I. Correspondence and Topical Files, 1921-1978. II. Writings, 1949-1978. III. Teaching Files, 1947-1975. IV. Pictorial Material, 1907-1977.


19 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers consist of correspondence, topical files, writings, teaching files, and pictorial material which document Christopher Tunnard's career as a landscape designer, city planning consultant, author, and professor of city planning.

Biographical / Historical

Christopher Tunnard was born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on July 7, 1910, the son of Christopher Coney and Madeline (Kingscote) Tunnard. He attended St. Michael's School and Victoria College of the University of British Columbia in Canada (1927-1928). From 1928 to 1930 Tunnard studied horticulture and landscape design at the College of the Royal Horticultural Society, Wisley, England, and in 1932 he studied building construction at the Westminster Technical Institute in London.

From 1932 to 1934 Tunnard was employed as a draftsman-designer for the London firm of the garden designer Percy S. Crane. From 1934 to 1937 he had a private practice as a landscape designer and site planner near London at St. Ann's Hill, Surrey. He continued his private practice in London from 1937 until 1939, when he became a visiting lecturer on landscape design and regional planning in the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. From 1942 to 1943 he served with the Royal Canadian Engineers. Following his discharge from the service he helped make plans for the postwar rebuilding of London as chairman of the town planning committee of the Modern Architectural Research Society of London.

In 1944 Tunnard accepted a teaching position at Yale University. He was a lecturer (1944-1945), assistant professor (1945-1948), associate professor (1948-1962), professor (1962-1975), and professor emeritus (1975-1979) in city planning, and was instrumental in the development of the city planning program at Yale. He was appointed director of the newly created graduate program in city planning in 1950, and was acting chairman of the department of city planning (which was established in 1960) from November 1965 to June 30, 1967, and chairman from July 1967 to 1969.

During his tenure at Yale Tunnard guest lectured at numerous universities, including the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Minnesota, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Clemson College, the University of Illinois, North Carolina State, the University of Winnipeg, the University of Rome, Italy, and Harvard University.

Tunnard is noted for his concept of the "regional city" the idea that the Atlantic seaboard, for example, is not a series of cities along the coastline, but one "super city." He believed that these super cities should be planned as regions rather than individual cities. Tunnard also emphasized the importance of aesthetics in planning, and maintained that civic art and the integration of the natural landscape with new construction were critical to the health and productivity of American urban communities.

Tunnard received a number of grants which supported his research on the American city including a Wheelwright Fellowship in Architecture at Harvard University in 1943, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1950, and a Rockefeller Foundation grant to direct a three-year program (1957-1959) at Yale to study the design aspects of the regional city.

Tunnard received the Silver Gilt Medal for Landscape Design at the Paris Exposition in 1937. In 1956 he received a Fulbright Research Fellowship to work at the Institut d'Urbanisme at the University of Paris, and in 1961 he received a Fulbright to conduct research and teach at the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul, Turkey. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London, England in 1966.

As a private consultant Tunnard was involved in the city planning activities of government and citizen interest groups throughout the United States. He also consulted on a number of international projects including UNESCO missions to study historic monuments in Java, Jamaica, and Kathmandu, Nepal, and a city planning project in Barranquilla, Colombia. From 1951 to 1959, Tunnard, Henry Hope Reed, and James Henry Ward were partners in a consulting firm which specialized in city planning. In the 1960s he formed a partnership with fellow Yale city planning faculty member Walter D. Harris.

An active preservationist, Tunnard served as a member of the International Relations Committee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the president of the New Haven Preservation Trust, and as a member of the International Council on Monuments and Sites. He was a member of the American Institute of Planners, the American Society of Planning Officials, the American Institute of Architects, the Institute of Landscape Architects, the British Institute of Landscape Architects, and the American Society of Architectural Historians. He was active in the planning activities of the New Haven area community, serving as an appointed member of the New Haven City Plan Commission and the Regional Planning Authority of South Central Connecticut.

His publications include Gardens in the Modern Landscape (1938), The City of Man (1953), American Skyline (with Henry Hope Reed, 1953), Man-Made America: Chaos or Control? (with Boris Pushkarev, 1963), and A World With a View (1978). Tunnard's articles and reviews appeared in publications including Harper's, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, Landscape, Saturday Review of Literature, and Comment.

Tunnard married Lydia Evans of Boston, Massachusetts in 1945. They had a son, Christopher. Tunnard died in New Haven in 1979.

Guide to the Christopher Tunnard Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Susan Brady with Amy Shine and Michael Gerber
April 1991
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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