Beaux-Arts Institute of Design

Beaux-Arts Institute of Design

The Beaux-Arts Institute of Design (BAID) was an art and architectural school based in New York City, founded in 1916 with the goal of training American architects, sculptors and mural painters consistent with the educational agenda of the French Ecole des Beaux-Arts.

According to John Harbeson, these values included:
*The division into ateliers.
*The tradition of the older students helping the younger.
*The teaching of design by practicing artists and architects (and the judgment of the competitions by a trained jury of practicing artists and architects).
*The beginning of the study of design as soon as the student enters the atelier.
*The system of the "esquisse" (timed sketches).

Also fundamental to Ecole teaching was coordination among architects, sculptors and muralists to create integrated architectural experiences.


BAID grew out of the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects, a formal club of American architects who had attended the Parisian school.

From its beginning in 1894, the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects had been interested in improving architectural education in the U.S.. It took on the task of developing standard architectural "programmes" for design problems to be given as assignments in architecture schools and in independent ateliers. The intent was to raise performance standards, but the effect also was to standardize the way architecture was taught all across the United States. By 1900, most American architecture schools and many independent "ateliers" were participating. By 1916 the burden of providing problem statements and jurying the work from an increasing number of schools and ateliers exceeded the capacity of the Society, so it established BAID to carry on this work.

Among sculpture professionals, the foundation of BAID ensured a supply of competent decorative sculptors, and allowed the members of the National Sculpture Society to position themselves as fine artists in comparison.


According to "The American Magazine of Art" for November 1916, the Society deeded over a building at 126 East 75th Street to the newly created BAID. Courses began on September 18th 1916 in three departments. The architecture department was associated with a committee from the Society; the sculpture department with a committee from the National Sculpture Society; and the mural department with a committee from the Society of Mural Painters.

Architect Frederic Charles Hirons of Dennison & Hirons was central to the founding and running of the school. Hirons had attended the Paris school from 1904 through 1909; co-founded BAID in 1916; designed the BAID building in 1928 (won through a competition, in the manner of Beaux-Arts); and served as president of the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects from 1937 through 1939.

Another driving force was Lloyd Warren, the brother of Charles Warren of Warren and Wetmore. Lloyd was described as the founder and director of BAID in his October 26, 1922 New York Times obituary (he died of sleepwalking) and was instrumental in getting top figures from the sculptural and architectural fields to teach at BAID, and serve on competition panels, for the sake of the profession.


BAID architectural competitions were published across the country, administered through university architecture schools or independent studios, and the entries all graded by jury at once. The highest number of entries received was in the 1929-1930 year, when 9500 entries came in to New York City for judging.

BAID also had on-site instruction and classrooms, with large sculpture studios open long hours and into the evenings for the convenience of working students and part-time teachers.

The school tended to be populated by students who were either immigrants or first generation Americans. They often came from working-class backgrounds and their training was towards getting a union job in the building trades, rather than becoming a fine arts sculptor. Many of these students also attended the Art Students League.

Notable alumni

*Chaim Gross, sculptor, attended circa 1922
*Herbert Ferber, sculptor, attended circa 1926
*Ibram Lassaw, sculptor, attended circa 1928
*Albert W. Wein, sculptor, attended 1932
*Henry Hensche, painter
*Milton Horn, sculptor
*Nathaniel Kaz, sculptor
*Joseph Kiselewski, sculptor
*John Gaw Meem, , architect Atelier Denver
*Corrado Parducci, sculptor
*Albert Stewart, sculptor
*John J. Wade, architect
*Paul R. Williams, architect


*Bogart, Michele H., "Public Sculpture and the Civic Ideal in New York City: 1890-1930", University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1989
*Brummé, C. Ludwig, "Contemporary American Sculpture", Crown Publishers, New York, 1948
*Gurney, George, "Sculpture and the Federal Triangle", Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington D.C., 1985
*Harbeson, John F. "The Study of Architectural Design: With Special Reference to the Program of the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design", Pencil Points Press Inc., New York, 1926
*Kvaran, Einar Einarsson, "Architectural Sculpture in America", unpublished manuscript
*Stern, Gilmartin & Mellins, "New York, 1930: Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars", Rizzoli International Publications, New York, 1987

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