Born in Somerset, England, he became a pupil of James Elmes. He settled in the USA in 1816, where he designed several buildings, including the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA (1825–6), with a severe Greek Revival front based on the Choragic Monument of Thrasyllus, Athens. He published The Builder's Assistant (1818–21), intended, like his other publishing and teaching activities, to augment his meagre earnings as an architect: it was the first American publication in which the Greek Orders were depicted, and was reissued in four volumes in 1830. He designed the first prison in the USA built in accordance with the ideas of English reformers, the Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia (1821–37), using a Gothic castellated style. He brought out a new edition of Owen Biddle's (1737–99) Young Carpenter's Assistant (first published in 1805) in 1830, embellished with new plates, including an illustration of his Miner's Bank, Pottsville, PA (1830–1—demolished), with its façade covered with iron plates made in such a way to look like ashlar. His many churches and private houses were mostly in the Greek Revival style, but his building housing the New York City Halls of Justice and House of Detention, known as the ‘Tombs’ (1835–8), was in the Egyptian Revival style, calculated to instil awe and terror in all who saw it. He first used Egyptianizing details at the New Jersey State Penitentiary, near Trenton (1832–6), partly for reasons of economy, but partly to suggest the ‘misery which awaits the unhappy being’ unfortunate enough to be incarcerated, for the building was Sublimely robust and terrifying, with its large areas of blank walls and sinister portico set between two pylons. Egyptianesque, too, was his Essex County Court House and Gaol, Newark, NJ (1836–8). Haviland has been called the greatest of the American Egyptian Revival architects.
Carrott (1978);Hamlin (1964);Haviland (1830, 1830a);Hitchcock (1976);Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, xxiii/2 (May 1964), 101–5, xxv/3 (Sept. 1966), 197–208, xxvi/4 (Dec. 1967), 307–9;Kennedy (1989);Tatman & Moss (1985);Teeters & Shearer (1957);Whiffen & Koeper (1983)