Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fifteen Years Ago Today.....

Ronette King reported for the Times-Picayune:

"In a town that cherishes old houses and architectural forms, little notice has been paid to their plain, square neighbors.

For decades, the simple shotgun with one room upon another was dressed in a glorified exterior with a dizzying array of brackets, intricate millwork and an impressive color palette.

So the modern style - manifest in an unadorned facade, devoid of decorative detailing at doors or windows and little other ornamentation - has often received little notice or become cause to bemoan the loss of New Orleans' unique architectural history.

Although it has earned the title International Style, such modern architecture has had to fight for a place in the collective heart of New Orleans.

So to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Tulane School of Architecture, alumni, staff members and lovers of the modern style have banded together to explain the attributes of this architecture and its place in the local landscape and history. Centennial events include a lecture, panel discussion and tour of six homes and churches designed by Tulane graduates."

To read more, consult Lexis-Nexis Academic, available through Tulane University Libraries Research Databases.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tulane Places

In 1984, Malcolm J. Heard, Jr. and Bernard Lemann collaborated to create a comprehensive guide to Tulane University's campus buildings and research repositories. Incorporating drawings from the Southeastern Architectural Archive, the publication surveyed Tulane's expansion from its origins as the Medical College of Louisiana (1834), which became the University of Louisiana and ultimately Tulane.

Heard and Lemann included a university map that plotted the buildings within four discrete campus units: the Front Campus, the Newcomb Quads, the Middle Campus, and the Rear Campus. They identified each structure by architect(s)/firm(s), completion date, function, and distinctive features.

Nathaniel C. Curtis, Sr., working for Moise Goldstein & Associates, designed Joseph Merrick Jones Hall (1941), the SEAA's home. The structure originally housed the university library, named Howard-Tilton Library. Historic printers' devices -- such as the Golden Compass of Plantin Press -- were carved into the Freret Street entrance. In 1971, architect Harold E. Pique converted the building into Tulane's Law School. When the latter moved to its new building in the late 1990s, Jones Hall once again became a library, housing the university's special collections materials, including its expanding architectural archives.

Image above: Cover of Malcolm J. Heard, Jr. and Bernard Lemann's Tulane Places. New Orleans, Tulane University, 1984. Available at Tulane University Libraries.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Architectural Forum 1951

In 1951, The Architectural Forum reported on New Orleans architecture:

"The battle of the New Orleans schools started early in 1948 when school officials belatedly announced a $40,000,000 school building program, then released a shockingly antiquated quadrangle plan for a new elementary school in the crowded suburb of Gentilly. Appalled at the thought of this plan becoming a prototype for the whole program, Charles Colbert, then assistant professor of architecture at Tulane, gave his second-year students the problem of designing a first-rate school for Gentilly. The university backed the problem both as valuable practical experience for the students and as a public service. New Orleans newspapers gave the story a big play, and a utility company offered space and financing for a public exhibition of the best student designs.

Delighted by this chance to tackle a practical problem, Colbert's class of mature ex-GI's thoroughly research[ed] the Gentilly school requirements, talked to parents, teachers, school administrators, business men and civic groups to get their ideas. At the exhibition, models based on this intensive study [of] more than 30,000 people had such basic elements of contemporary school design as: single floor plans laid out for maximum economy, flexibility, and best sun and wind control; home-like classrooms bilaterally lighted and properly equipped for sound control and ventilation; auditoriums. . . cafeterias and playgrounds designed for community as well as school use; site selection based on the requirements of an increased number of outdoor activities, protection from heavy-duty streets, and proximity to student's homes."

Excerpt from pp. 104 The Architectural Forum 94 (February 1951).

Friday, September 11, 2009

Congratulations to Tulane University's Howard-Tilton Memorial Library on its new Learning Commons area!

There will be an OPEN HOUSE on Wednesday, 23 September in the first floor Learning Commons. 5:00-6:00 pm

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

UPhO #7 NOW Identified

Another gem from the Southeastern Architectural Archive's collection of unidentified photographs. Any ideas?

Bingo! This is St. Michael's Chapel-Tomb (1895), St. Roch Cemetery No. 2. Prior to its restoration,

Image above: Unidentified photographer, location unknown. Miscellaneous Photographs Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Advance Notice: Visual Acoustics

The 20th annual New Orleans Film Festival schedule will be announced on September 16th, but we have advance notice that its line-up will include the Eric Bricker documentary, Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman.

Julius Shulman (1910-2009) was a leading architectural photographer who remained active until his death this past summer. His imagery idealized the southern California lifestyle and the modernist architecture of Richard Neutra, John Lautner and Frank Lloyd Wright. His personal archive of some 1/4 million items is currently being processed at the Getty.

To read more about his work, check out...... Tulane University Libraries:

Architecture and Its Photography/Julius Shulman. Koln and New York, 1998

Kaplan, Sam Hall. LA Lost and Found: An Architectural History of Los Angeles. New York, 1987.

Serraino, Pierluigi. Modernism Rediscovered. Koln, 2000.

Shulman, Julius. Photographing Architecture and Interiors. New York, 1962.

Stern, Michael and Alan Hess. Julius Shulman: Palm Springs. New York, 2008.

NOW AVAILABLE in the Tulane School of Architecture Library:

Julius Shulman, Architecture Rediscovered. 3 vols., Taschen, 2007. NA712.5.I57 S58

Friday, September 4, 2009

Public Meeting: Fate of Curtis & Davis School

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced a public meeting scheduled for Wednesday 23 September from 6:00-8:30 pm at C.J. Peete Community Center (2514 Washington Street) to discuss the proposed demolition and replacement of Curtis and Davis's Thomy Lafon Elementary School.

FEMA is requesting that participants be prepared to speak out either in support of preservation or demolition. Parties supporting preservation should be able to present a related proposal; parties supporting demolition should present a proposal for the school's commemoration.

To read more about Thomy Lafon (1810-1893), consult the following resources available through Tulane University Libraries:

Joseph, James A. "Thomy Lafon: Black Aristocracy and Benevolent Wealth," chapter in Remaking America: How the Benevolent Traditions of Many Cultures are Transforming our National Life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995.

Rankin, David C. "The Origins of Black Leadership in New Orleans during Reconstruction." The Journal of Southern History 40:3 (Aug 1974): 417-440 & other articles available through JSTOR.

To read more about Curtis and Davis's architecture, see:

Curtis, Nathaniel. Nathaniel Curtis, FAIA: My Life in Modern Architecture. New Orleans: University of New Orleans, 2002.

Davis, Arthur. It Happened by Design: The Life and Work of Arthur Q. Davis. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2009.

"School on Stilts." Architectural Forum 101 (November 1954): 148-151.

Image above: Detail from presentation board: Thomy Lafon School: Small Site in a Congested Neighborhood.Curtis & Davis Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Tulane University Libraries.

Public Meeting: Fate of Colbert School

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced a public meeting scheduled for Tuesday 22 September from 6:30-9:00 pm at Sojourner Truth Neighborhood Center to discuss the proposed demolition and replacement of Charles Colbert's Phillis Wheatley Elementary School. Previous posts have addressed the Orleans Parish School Board's Master Plan for its schools, as well as Charles Colbert's role in modernizing the city's public school buildings.

FEMA is requesting that participants be prepared to speak out either in support of preservation or demolition. Parties supporting preservation should be able to present a related proposal; parties supporting demolition should present a proposal for the school's commemoration.

To read more about Phillis Wheatley (1753-84), a colonial-era poet, Tulane University Libraries maintain the following resources:

The Collected Works of Phillis Wheatley. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Gates, Henry Louis. The Trials of Phillis Wheatley: America's First Black Poet and Her Encounters with the Founding Fathers. New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2003.

The Poems of Phillis Wheatley. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989.

To read more about Charles Colbert's architecture, see:

Blodgett, Omer. "Welded Cantilevered Trusses Frame Elevated School." Progressive Architecture 30 (Aug 1958): 138-141.

Colbert, Charles. Idea: The Shaping Force. Metairie, LA: Pendaya Publications, 1987.

New Schools for New Education: A Report from Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Educational Facilities Laboratories, Inc., 1959. Made available at Texas A & M University here.