Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Architectural Photography

New Orleans architectural photographer Frank Lotz Miller (1923-1993) maintained a prolific career photographing the city's architecture, food and festivals. Although born in Shreveport, his family moved to the Crescent City when he was a child. By the late 1950s, he was a regular contributor to Architectural Forum, Architectural Record and Progressive Architecture, frequently drawing comparisons to modernist architecture photographers Julius Shulman (1910-2009) and Ezra Stoller (1915-2004).

In the mid-1960s, Frank Lotz Miller wrote essays for The Louisiana Architect magazine. He used this forum to articulate the aims and principles of architectural photography, and to establish guidelines for architects hiring photographers:

"To truly appreciate architecture one must experience it first hand; be present in the space it encompasses, walk through and around it. The ideal is not always possible, but the best substitute, and I will be the first to admit its limitations, is photography."

"The photographer should not be asked to work on speculation. This is another reason why whenever possible the architect and the photographer should visit the site together."

To read more, see: "Photography and the Architect." The Louisiana Architect (May 1965): p. 10. Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

The Southeastern Architectural Archive retains Frank Lotz Miller photographs and negatives for the following architects/firms: James Lamantia, George Saunders, John Lawrence, and Curtis & Davis. To view a selection of digital reproductions, click here.

Image above: Frank Lotz Miller Advertisement. The Louisiana Architect (October 1964): p. 15.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Field Trip: Colorado Springs, Colorado

The subject of Googie architecture has been addressed on this blog a number of times, and Colorado's state highways feature many well maintained mid-century motels. Along Colorado Avenue between Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs, there is an especially high density of interesting Googie signage.

Image above: Mecca Motel, Colorado Avenue, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Photograph by K. Rylance 24 July 2010.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Urban Environment: Communication Patterns

The subject of New Orleans as a conference destination has come up in a previous post. The Urban Communication Foundation will award its annual Jane Jacobs Urban Communication Book Award at the 2011 Annual Conference of the National Communication Association. The award recognizes an outstanding book that exhibits excellence in addressing issues of urban communication. It is named in honor of the late social activist and author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961). The book award brings with it a $500 prize.

On 12 March 2010 the Urban Communication Foundation also announced a new prize co-sponsored with the Center for Environmental Design Research. Named after architect Michael Brill, this grant encourages innovative research projects that provide a bridge between the fields of communication and environmental design. The grant supports new research or research in progress. Read more here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

House Eater

Macfadyena unguis-cati (Cat's Claw Vine) is an invasive woody vine that can rapidly envelop a house. The plant can grow to 120' lengths, with 1/2" diameters. As the plant grows and becomes heavier, it can cause building collapse. There is a native counterpart called Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine), which may be distinguished by its reddish-orange flowers rather than the yellowish flowers of Cat's Claw Vine.

Image above: Unidentifed photographer. Unidentified House, New Orleans, c. 1980. Miscellaneous Photographs Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Modern Age: Waiting Room 1954

The New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal, located at 1001 Loyola Avenue, and designed by the collaborative team of Wogan and Bernard, Jules K. de la Vergne, and August Perez & Associates, opened to public acclaim in 1954. Noted Louisiana muralist Conrad Albrizio (1894-1973), who studied fresco techniques in Rome and Fontainebleau, designed the murals to depict the history of Louisiana. Divided into four chronological panels spanning an aggregate of four hundred years, the panels represented four distinctive "ages": that of Exploration, Colonization, Struggle and Modernity. Albrizio, in a self-published pamphlet explaining the murals, defined Louisiana's Modern Age as that which followed the Civil War, when:

"secret groups oppose the dishonest political practices of the Carpetbagger Government, which not only exploited the chaotic conditions caused by the passing of 'plantation days' but also rendered helpless the impoverished landowners. A new State Constitution was adopted in 1879; the Capital is moved to Baton Rouge; the negroes, uncertain of their future, return to the fields. Paul Tulane's gift makes possible the founding of Tulane University. This leads to the center motif of the panel which represents Western Civilization contrasting the past Indian Civilization. Symbolized are three aspects of Man; the Material, the Spiritual and the Creative. The idead of resurrection, basic to the Christian doctrine, is expressed by the center figure soaring upward, transcending the material world. There follows the advancement of education wherein all races have equal opportunities, and New Orleans becomes a medical center. Emphasis is placed upon the development of the sciences: Physics, Medicine, Sociology and Anthropology. Reference is made to the importance of New Orleans as a port through the exchange of goods with other countries. The panel ends with symbols of industry and atomic power with an allusion to the conquest of outer space and the unknown"

The Southeastern Architectural Archive retains forty cartoon drawings by Conrad Albrizio related to his murals for the Waterman Steamship Company Building located in Mobile, Alabama, as well as Albrizio's small brochure, Mural Paintings in the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (New Orleans: Conrad Albrizio, 1955). Additionally, the SEAA houses architectural records associated with the New Orleans firm Toledano, Wogan and Bernard.

Image above: Leon Trice, photographer. Waiting Room of the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal, 1954. Toledano, Wogan and Bernard Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Venice Sojourn 1927

In 1927, Shreveport architects Samuel G. Wiener (1896-1977) and William B. Wiener (1907-1981) traveled to Venice, Italy and recorded their journey in photographs and drawings. Guido Pellizarri, then Superintendent of Fine Arts of Venetia, introduced the brothers to buildings throughout the city, many located in what Samuel described as "obscure places." Drawing on the tradition of architectural pattern books, the elder Wiener designed his resultant book's baroque title page (image above) and included his delicate sketches of ornamental ironwork, stone cartouches and balusters. Affirming his modernity, he wrote in the Foreward:

"The illustrations contained in this book give some idea of what may have been the Venetians' attitude toward their building. The value of their architecture to the modern designer is not the offering of a wealth of curiously beautiful details to be copied that they may grace our modern buildings. Venetian architecture can teach us that buildings can be beautiful without being grave, and they can delight us with their delicate charm and flaunting disregard of established principles without becoming trivial."

Samuel Wiener returned to Europe in 1931, focusing his energies in Germany and the Netherlands, and visiting Walter Gropius' Dessau Bauhaus and Erich Mendelsohn's Einstein Tower.1

Image above: Samuel G. Wiener. Venetian Houses and Details. New York: Architectural Book Publishing Company, 1929. Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

1 Karen Kingsley. Modernism in Louisiana: A Decade of Progress 1930-1940. New Orleans: Tulane School of Architecture, 1984.