The Kenneth Treister Collection includes architectural drawings, project files, correspondence, publications and writings, photographs, documentary films, and other materials spanning from the 1950s into the 21st century. Treister is an architect, sculptor, photographer, artist, author, and lecturer. Born in 1930, he graduated from the University of Florida in 1953 with a degree in architecture. A lifelong resident of Miami, primarily Coconut Grove, he is perhaps best known for his design and planning work in that region.
The hundreds of drawings and project files document numerous important architectural and design projects, primarily in South Florida and the Caribbean. These projects include Mayfair, the up-scale retail and mixed-use development in Coconut Grove; Temple Emanu-El of Greater Miami; Yacht Harbour Condominiums in Coconut Grove; Gumenick Chapel of the Temple Israel in Miami; the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach; Elizabeth Virrick Park in Miami; Out Island Inn in the Bahamas; Office in the Grove, a Coconut Grove high-rise office building; and several residential projects in South Florida. A portion of the drawings and project files represent Treister's work as president and partner in the Housing Corporation of America, a leading firm in the development of low-cost public housing (turn-key housing) in the United States. Other materials document his extensive planning work in Israel, including residential and industrial projects.
In addition to his architectural records and related material, the collection contains over 50,000 photographic slides documenting Treister's extensive travels around the world. The images focus particularly on architecture, design, and urban planning in Europe, North and South America, Asia, and northern Africa. There are slides of his own work as well as the works of notable architects such as Antonio Gaudi, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. In addition to celebrated structures and famous landmarks, the photographs document examples of architecture typically overlooked by architectural photographers, such as residences found in poorer districts of cities or dwellings built by non-industrial peoples in remote, rural regions. The slides also include photographs of people, artwork, landscape design, and the natural environment. Treister primarily used the slides during his lectures, which took him around the world at the invitation of foreign governments, universities, and other organizations and companies. As such, the majority of the slides were organized in slide carousels based on lecture topics, particularly cities or regions.
The Treister Collection also includes manuscripts and photographs used to create books on topics such as Temple Israel, the Holocaust Memorial, and Havana. In addition, there are documentary films he produced on the Holocaust Memorial, Easter Island, and the Maya.
Treister is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and also is the recipient of numerous awards for his architectural and sculptural designs.
As a partnership between the Smathers Libraries and the School of Architecture since 2004, the Architecture Archives has become a leading repository for historical records pertaining to the architects and architecture of Florida. Initial activities have focused on a handful of important collections, including the archives of Alfred Browning Parker, Kenneth Treister, Rufus Nims, Darrell Fleeger, and the Carrère and Hastings firm. The collections support scholarly research, historic preservation, and the education of future students.