Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shannon Lee Dawdy MacArthur Recipient

University of Chicago anthropologist Shannon Lee Dawdy has received a 2010 MacArthur Grant in recognition of her scholarship. In recent years, her work has largely focused on New Orleans. Read more/watch a video here.

Building the Devil's Empire: French Colonial New Orleans is available through Tulane University Libraries.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fifth Wheel of the Wagon

As reported by The Daily Picayune 2 September 1889:

"Architects say their business is constantly increasing and that people are beginning to learn more readily that money is saved and other profit gained by employment of the architect. People used to believe an architect constituted the fifth wheel of the wagon. Nowadays, however, that opinion is giving way in the face of returning prosperity and the development of architectural tastes. Style in residences and stores, as stated before, is changing along St. Charles avenue, Prytania and other residence streets there is a greater prevalence of European and modern American architecture and a constant broadening of lines.

Another matter of note is the fact that stone is coming into more general use than ever before. Many of the lately constructed residences up town are COMBINATIONS OF BRICK AND STONE, and in the selection of the granite there is the utmost catholicity of taste. The Morris building, the Howard Library, and the Whitney National Bank, are all for the most part part built of red granite."

Excerpt from "Brick and Mortar: The Past Year's Building Operations," p. 2.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Field Trip: Cloquet, Minnesota

Frank Lloyd Wright designed only one automobile service station (1956-1957), a commission for a Phillips 66 station. The structure is located at the intersection of Highway 33 and Cloquet Avenue in Cloquet, Minnesota. The cantilevered roof shelters a glass-enclosed visitors' waiting/observation room that overlooks the Cloquet River bridge, railroad tracks, and busy intersection. As with many of Wright's buildings, it employs the use of Louisiana cypress. In 1984, the building was listed on the National Register; in 2008, it celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Image above: Frank Lloyd Wright, architect. R.W. Lindholm Service Station (1956-1957; opened October 1958), Cloquet, MN. Fujifilm. K. Rylance 1992.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lexicon: Brunspile

As reported in Engineering News-Record 6 August 1964:

A 45-story, steel-framed skyscraper under construction in downtown New Orleans will set several structural records. The tallest building in the Old South, Plaza Tower will sit on pre-stressed concrete piles designed for bearing values of 180 tons, the greatest pile load ever approved in that city.

The $10-million tower will rise from one corner of an 18-story base building devoted largely to parking 500 cars. Duranodic aluminum will sheath closely spaced exterior columns. Between the columns, white marble spandrels will alternate vertically with bronze-tinted windows.

Before approving the 180-ton pile value, city building officials required load tests held for at least two days at more than double the allowable design load. Driven successively through strata of compressible clay again into a hard Pleistocene stratum (glacial till consisting mainly of hard clay) about 155 ft below grade, a 168-ft pile passed the test with ease. It held 400 tons for two days with only 3/8 in. residual settlement. At 462 tons, the test pile failed in compression (5,600 psi); the foundation soil still held.

Known as Brunspile, the piles are pre-stressed, precast units up to 70 ft long, octagonal in cross section. The splice detail comprises a cast-steel, cylindrical wedge connector into which fits the ferrule end of the top unit. The pile units are separated by a steel impact plate, and pile hammer blows wedge the two sections together in a moment-resisting joint...

To read more, consult ENR in Howard-Tilton Memorial Library. Architect for the Plaza Tower was Leonard Spangenberg, Jr. & Assoc. Tulane University's William J. Mouton was consulting engineer, George A. Fuller of Dallas was general contractor, and Stephen K. Whitty of New Orleans was pile subcontractor.

Friday, September 3, 2010

New SEAA Website

The Southeastern Architectural Archive has launched its new website this month! The url has changed to Click here to access information about collections, donations, and outreach programming.

Architectural Photography Symposium

Documenting History, Charting Progress and Exploring the World: Architecture in Nineteenth-Century Photographs.
Indiana University South Bend and Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame
October 3 - 4, 2010

Held during the The Snite Museum exhibition Documenting History, Charting Progress and Exploring the World: Architecture in Photographs from the Janos Scholz Collection of Nineteenth-Century European Photographs (September 5 - October 31, 2010), this symposium is a collaboration between the Snite Museum at the University of Notre Dame, the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, and Indiana University South Bend. It will bring together scholars who approach the study of 19-century photographs of architecture from a thematic point of view. The cultural role of architectural photography will be examined in 12 papers and two lectures by established and junior scholars. Participants from Canada, Ireland, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States will provide varied perspectives and insights on the cultural, social, and professional significance of 19-century architectural photography.

The symposium is free and open to the public.

Indiana University South Bend is located at 1700 Mishawaka Avenue, South Bend, Indiana and the Snite Museum of Art is located on the campus of the University of Notre Dame, near South Bend, Indiana. Directions to the two conference venues are available at and For Symposium program, itineraries, and additional information, please contact Micheline Nilsen, ( or 574-520-4277).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Architecture Database Available

Columbia University Libraries have announced the launch of their New York Real Estate Brochure Collection, an online database representing some 3,000 buildings described in advertising brochures. Researchers can search by address, architect, property owner/agent, building name, and neighborhood. Most structures are illustrated by interior and exterior views and floor plans, and have been geo-referenced using Google Maps. To access the database, click here.

The printing company that produced the advertisements retained samples of all its brochures, and a successor firm inherited the comprehensive archive. Yale Robbins, Henry Robbins and David Magier were able to acquire the complete printing archive and donated it to the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library in 1986.

Image above: 53rd at Third. Architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee. Promotional advertisement. New York Real Estate Brochure Collection, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library Online.