Monday, February 3, 2014

Early Curtis & Davis Project

In 1950, New Orleans architects Curtis & Davis received attention from Progressive Architecture for their 1949 rehabilitation of an automobile sales and service establishment. Klein Motors, Incorporated, 832-840 St. Charles Avenue, had been largely destroyed by fire.

The owner demanded the architects reuse the three remaining masonry walls (two sides and rear) and develop a new showroom, offices and service area. The budget was limited, and Curtis & Davis integrated pilaster-supported 100-foot clear span trusses with the salvaged walls. The terracotta-colored enameled aluminum upper portion of the facade emulated a billboard and supported Klein's commercial signage. The biomorphic white tiled canopy, in-sloping showroom curtain wall and strategically placed spotlights were intended to draw attention to the automobiles. When the project was completed, the young partners hired Clarence John Laughlin (1905-1985) to take photographs for the Progressive Architecture feature.

According to Curbed New Orleans, the structure recently sold for $1.63 million and will be used to house The New Orleans Advocate.

UPDATE:  The New Orleans Advocate plans to return the facade to its C & D era form.  Read more on The New Orleans Advocate.

Read more about the C&D rehabilitation in "Automobile Sales and Services Buildings." Progressive Architecture 31 (1950): pp. 75-78.

"Formal Reopening of Firm Set Today." The Times-Picayune (1 April 1949): p. 26.

Image above: Clarence John Laughlin, photographer. Klein Motors, Inc. 832-840 St. Charles Avenue. Circa 1949. Color positive film. Curtis and Davis Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

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