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Rufus Nims Architectural Drawings

Identifier: MS Group 177

Scope and Content

The collection consists primarily of architectural drawings created by Rufus Nims, as well as sketches, photos, newspaper clippings, articles, notes and other papers. The drawings include plans for residences and buildings in Florida, Louisiana, New York, Costa Rica, and several countries in the Caribbean, among other locations. South Florida cities such as Miami, Key Biscayne, and Coconut Grove are well represented. The collection also includes a small amount of material on the motel and hotel designs for Howard Johnson, Marriott, and other corporations.


  • 1950-1992



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Architect Rufus Nims was born in Pensacola, Florida, in 1913. He graduated from North Carolina State in 1934 with a degree in architectural engineering. He worked in twenty-five states and twelve foreign countries throughout his career. He is best known for his work with the Howard Johnson hotels and restaurants, and his residential work in South Florida and the Caribbean. Nims opened his firm in Miami in 1945 and was one of a handful of architects who defined the modern tropical house following World War II before the widespread use of central air-conditioning. Connection to the natural environment was of utmost importance for the architect, as he would even turn down potential clients who did not care whether they were living in Florida or New Jersey. Nims challenged the traditional Spanish and Mediterranean design principles found in South Florida at the time by experimenting with building materials, construction technologies, and house structures. His prolific body of work won him over eighteen national and international awards including: American Institute of Architects awards (1958, 1975), House and Home Award of Merit (1958), Progressive Architecture: Salaven Design Award (1956), and the Original Progressive Architecture Award (1958). Nims died at the age of 90 in 2005.


19 Linear feet (24 Boxes; 40 Flat Files)

Language of Materials



Architectural drawings created by South Florida architect Rufus Nims. These include plans for residences and buildings in Florida, Louisiana, New York, Costa Rica, and several countries in the Caribbean. The collection also includes motel and hotel designs for Howard Johnson, Marriott, and other corporations.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated February 2004 by Rufus Nims, with the assistance of Martha Kohen, former director of the University of Florida School of Architecture. A second donation from the Nims family occurred in October 2010.

Processing Notes

The collection acquired in 2004 originally consisted almost entirely of architectural drawings. These drawings can be found in boxes 1-18. Also included were a very small amount of news clippings, photos and other papers. Each of the projects represented in the 2004 materials was assigned a project number, and a Projects List was created in Microsoft Excel format at In addition, a detailed list of each item was created during the initial processing of the 2004 collection, and this early detailed inventory is available in Microsoft Word format at

The materials acquired in 2010 included drawings and a large number of photos, sketches, news clippings, articles, and miscellaneous papers. Rolled drawings from this acquisition can be found in boxes 19-20, and flat drawings or oversize project photos and papers are stored in flat files (not in boxes). All other 2010 materials are stored in boxes 21-24. The small amount of news clippings, photos and other papers that had been acquired in 2004 have been interfiled with these 2010 materials. Please note that project numbers have not been assigned to the 2010 materials and the project list created in 2004 has not been revised.

A Guide to the Rufus Nims Architectural Drawings
Finding aid prepared by John R. Nemmers
November 2004
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America