Friday, December 18, 2009

All I want for Christmas is the Saints in the Super Bowl!

Superdome under construction, Curtis and Davis, architects, courtesy the Tulane School of Architecture New Orleans Virtual Archive.

And all I want for my birthday is to go see the Saints in the Dome, though I admit tickets are a bit rich. I may have to play the lottery for that one. In the meantime, check out
Kermit's Christmas list courtesy Basin Street Records and WWL.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Old News :: Good News

Last month members of the board of Docomomo Louisiana presented a slideshow to the City Council Special Housing Committee at the request of Council Member Stacy Head. We were joined by Eliot Perkins, Executive Director of the Historic District Landmarks Commission. Head had requested this meeting to learn more about our mission and challenges. Ms. Head noted that seeing images of the buildings in better days helped her recognize their significance. She recommended we take our slide show on the road and present to neighborhood groups.

Update on
Whitney Bank :: The City Council voted to uphold the HDLC designation as a historic landmark.

Update on Wheatley School :: The World Monuments Fund Watch listing has brought significant attention. Its possible we may have found the right fit for adaptive reuse. John Klingman was interviewed by
Dave Egbert at Living Green Radio about sustainable reuse of Wheatley and other modernist structures. Listen here.

AIA Louisiana honors
Albert Ledner with the Medal of Honor.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Whitney National Bank (threatened)

Whitney National  Bank
Whitney National Bank, Parham and Labouisse*, architects, 1964, originally uploaded by regional.modernism.
The Whitney National Bank building on Canal and Broad is threatened with imminent demolition. There is a temporary stop work order in effect and a hearing before the City Council on Thursday 11/5/09, scheduled to start at 11 am.

The new tenant?

Family Freaking Dollar.

* note: architects Parham and Labouisse previously partnered with Moise Goldstein. Monroe F. Labouisse also designed the Petrolane Building on Jeff Highway.

Thomy Lafon Elementary School

Looking a bit more closely at the plan of the Thomy Lafon School today. Preparing a lecture on case studies and will discuss Lafon in relation to Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye.

The form of the school has been obscured / marred by the unsympathetic addition of those horrible corrugated red hoods. But the plan better illustrates how this school functioned without corridors. The kindergarten wing was accessible by a playful ramp to the upper story. Beyond the kindergarten, classrooms were paired to share a staircase and toilet facilities. Architect Nathaniel C. Curtis described the plan as "the next logical step after the finger plan."* His partner architect Arthur Q. Davis describes the form as "a long, thin classroom wing, gracefully bent to avoid monotony."**

Here the pilotis serve many functions. The elevation of the classroom wing amplifies available play space which also offers shelter from rain and needed shade.This would also keep the classrooms cooler as there is a greater breeze at higher elevation. This is of course an old French Colonial tradition. Finally, the pilotis saved the classrooms from flooding post-Katrina. The Survivors Council fought to re-open the school in 2007, but to no avail. It has remained shuttered. The RSD has no plans for the reuse of the building. However, it could be adapted to serve the Harmony Oaks community as an early childhood center.

* In 1952 the first modern school was built in New Orleans, designed by Curtis and Davis. It was originally known as McDonogh 39 (later renamed Avery Alexander School) and followed a finger school plan with a series courtyards between the wings. School Facilities Plan called for its demolition. It was on the Louisiana Landmark's New Orleans Nine Most Endangered list in 2009, along with Lafon, Wheatley and Carver. Quote is from Talk About Architecture, Heard, Lemann and Klingman, 1993

** It Happened by Design, Arthur Q. Davis, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

PechaKucha Night :: New Orleans :: Volume 3

Meditation IV, originally uploaded by francinestock.

PechaKucha Night : New Orleans : Volume 3
Thursday October 29th, 2009
Zeitgeist Multi-disciplinary Arts Center [map]
Doors 7pm / Start 8:20pm (20:20)
Music by DJ Musa
Volume 3 Presenters:
Francine Stock / artist
Justin Shiels / Curious Tribe
Luis Quinones / installation
Zach Youngerman / Groundwork NOLA
Stephen Collier / artist
Aubrey Edwards + Alison Fensterstock
Alex Nassar / photography
Simon Dorfman / Gumbo Labs
Robin Wallis Atkinson / curator
David Gregor / architect

Friday, October 9, 2009

Times Picayune :: World Monuments Fund 2010 Watch

Phillis Wheatley School

Phillis Wheatley School, 2300 Dumaine Street, New Orleans, LA. Charles R. Colbert, architect, 1954.

Frank Lotz Miller, photographer, source: "Idea: The Shaping Force" Uploaded by regional.modernism

The glass-and-steel Wheatley School, designed in 1954 by architect Charles Colbert, had classrooms on the second floor and a play area underneath, shielded from sun and rain. It was "progressive for a school facility at the time," the fund says. "The building was critically acclaimed and its design was exhibited internationally. It is a valuable example of regional modernism in a city most noted for its 18th and 19th century architecture."

read more....
World Monuments Fund Watch List includes two New Orleans Sites, Bruce Eggler, Times-Picayune, Friday October, 9, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Orleans magazine :: paying attention

Mollere Summer House

Mollere Summer House Albert Ledner, architect, 1959. Ponchatoula, Louisiana. Uploaded by regional.modernism .

New Orleans mid-century modern architecture – typified by post-World War II design innovations, geometric forms and smooth lines – doesn’t get much notice compared to the courtyards and carriageways of the French Quarter or the Victorian showboats of the Garden District. But that’s starting to change.

read more....

Paying attention to modern architecture
Ian McNulty, New Orleans magazine, October 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

NPR :: New Orleans School Among World Endangered Sites

Wheatley listed on World Monuments Fund Watch 2010

That's right. Take it in slowly.

Floating above Creole cottages and Victorian shotgun houses of the Tremé/Lafitte neighborhood of New Orleans is the glass-and-steel Phillis Wheatley Elementary School. In 1954, the architect Charles Colbert constructed an elevated cantilevered steel truss structure to provide an expansive shaded playground area, protecting the schoolchildren from the tropical climate. Progressive for a school facility at the time, the building was critically acclaimed and its design was exhibited internationally. The building is a valuable example of regional modernism in a city most noted for its 18th- and 19th-century architecture.

More than 50 years later, the elevated form proved highly effective in protecting the Phillis Wheatley Elementary School from the floods of Hurricane Katrina. Since the hurricane, the Orleans Parish School Board has shuttered the building, and decay and vandalism have taken their toll on this striking statement of modern design. Demolition of the edifice to construct a new school has been proposed, and Docomomo-Louisiana has countered this proposal by suggesting an adaptive reuse of the building as a community center. This alternative to demolition would raise public awareness of an architectural gem unique to New Orleans and encourage community building in an area still recovering from disaster.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mystery Modern :: Lost and Found!

Back in June a blog reader sent me a jpg of this unmarked photo looking for help. I posted the image here and in my flickr. It took three months, but we now have a positive identification.

This is the "Social Hall" of Bethany United Methodist Church in Pontchartrain Park, 4533 Mendez Street. google street view

Bethany had eleven feet of standing water after Hurricane Katrina. It was totally gutted and renovated. The church reopened on October 22, 2006.
A very special thanks to Carol Reese for helping us identify this structure. Prof. Reese recently served as co-editor for the Pontchartrain Park and Gentilly Woods Landscape Manual, a joint project of Longue Vue House and Gardens and the Pontilly Disaster Collaborative.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thomy Lafon Elementary School :: comments due by midnight!

You can still add your comments to support the preservation and adaptive reuse of the Wheatley and Lafon Schools.

Below is my statement on Lafon.

I am continually floored that the RSD wants to demolish the Wheatley and Lafon schools which DID NOT FLOOD! Eighty percent of the city was under water - and yet these elementary schools were high and dry. In addition, in the case of Lafon the RSD has no intention of building on this site. This is a historic building which needs to be made available on the market for re-development with historic tax credits. The Lafon School is ripe for a sustainable adaptive re-use. The school was designed to address the extremities of our climate - in deference to our high heat and risk of high water.

The new housing development at CJ Peete could benefit from a facility which could function like the Colton Studio. This would foster greater creativity in this community rich with culture. And the studio artists could also offer community services by teaching after school art programs to the youth in the neighborhood.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Regional Modernism needs YOU!

NOW is the time for all good architects, preservationists and active citizens to come to the aid of the Wheatley and Lafon Schools threatened with imminent demolition by the so-called Recovery School District. Submit public comments in support of preservation. Deadline Wednesday 9.30.2009.

My statement on Wheatley follows. Statement on Lafon coming soon.

I support the preservation and adaptive reuse of the Philis Wheatley Elementary School, the master work of the architect Charles R. Colbert, and one of the most important mid-century modern buildings in the state of Louisiana. I encourage the planners and architects of the Recovery School District to open their hearts and minds to consider the renovation of this historic structure. I would like to remind them that the Wheatley School has been deemed eligible to National Register of Historic Places. This means tax credits and good karma! The Wheatley School can be saved AND the Treme neighborhood can have a new school at the same time. It's not an either/or proposition. Docomomo Louisiana has presented the RSD with a proposal for how to address issues of program on this site by adding a 3-story structure (traditional scale of most neighborhood schools) connected via elevated passage to the original and renovated school building. Architects are educated to solve problems with creativity and technology. In the past fifty years, engineers have developed numerous advances is glazing technologies (impact resistant, energy efficient, any range of translucency you desire). Architects can solve any perceived negative condition and maintain the luminous spirit of the school. Give the children of the Tremé the opportunity to witness the resurrection of an abandoned building. Give them the opportunity to see the future reborn. This piece of architecture is a gem - a true diamond in the rough. Let it shine.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Save Wheatley School!

Wheatley Poster
Charles Colbert's master work is threatened with imminent demolition at the hands of the Recovery School Board. Docomomo Louisiana considers Phillis Wheatley Elementary School one of the ten most important modernist buildings in the state. They have presented the RSD with a vision of how this important historic building can be renewed and adapted as part of a state-of the art school for Tremé. Now it's your turn.

Please submit comments in support of the preservation of the Wheatley School (Charles Colbert, 1955) and Lafon Elementary School (Curtis and Davis, 1954) to the FEMA 106 site.

Comments are due by September 30, 2009.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lafon Elementary School :: public meeting

The FEMA 106 public meeting on Wheatley was quite interesting, at times enervating but upon reflection, a small win for the preservationists.

Those who spoke in favor of preservation offered numerous solutions, ideas, and offers for continued discussion. DOCOMOMO Louisiana presented historic drawings and and photographs of the Wheatley School. They also presented a proposal for preservation of the school by integrating it with an additional 3-story facility on the site. While the RSD claimed the program did not meet all of their requirements, they are yet to show the community any visualizations for a new building or integration with the existing building. Instead, they keep suggesting outside architects need to do more pro bono design work for them.

You can still take action Wednesday night by attending the FEMA Historic Preservation Public Meeting for the Lafon Elementary School 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm at the C.J. Peete Center 2514 Washington Avenue.

Of course, you can also submit your public comments online.


A little backgrounder... RSD does not intend to put a school on the Lafon site. They just want to demolish this historic building to provide clear green space for a developer.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wheatley Elementary School :: make your voice heard

"The school and Lafitte, they were one. When you said Phillis Wheatley, you said Lafitte,” recalls Michelle Nelson, who went to the Wheatley school in the 60s and lived at Lafitte. He has vivid memories of an annual parade when school kids stepped to the Bell High School band and threw Mardi Gras beads to neighbors and also of directing all the young students across Saint Ann Street when he worked as a patrol guard in the sixth grade under the guidance of his favorite teacher, Mr. Grand Prix. The Lafitte housing complex that grounded this community was almost entirely demolished for redevelopment last spring and summer and now the school is slated to be razed by the New Orleans Recovery School District. “They’re just removing all memory,” laments Michelle, “They’ve taken all the places where I grew up. Now they’re tearing down the school.” *
As part of the section 106 review FEMA is sponsoring a public meeting in addition to the online public comment period. The meeting will be held at the Sojourner Truth Neighborhood Center 2200 Lafitte Street from 6:30 - 9 pm on Tuesday, September 22, 2009.

Public comments may also be submitted online.
* interview conducted by Bethany Rogers for the Cornerstones Project

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hoffman Elementary (sunrise 1948 - sunset 2009)

Hoffman Elementary (THREATENED)
On September 17, 2009 the New Orleans City Council voted to overturn the NCDC decision to deny a demolition permit for Hoffman Elementary School, 2622 S. Prieur Street. Councilwoman Stacy Head expressed regret regarding ordering the demolition of a historic structure. Representatives of the Recovery School District verbally promised to move the Hoffman site up to phase two, and possibly phase one if they can secure the financing. It is tragic that the RSD outright refuses to renovate this structure. The building assessment in the School Facilities Master Plan indicated that it would cost $2.2 million LESS to renovate Hoffman, but they would prefer to start over.*

I read a statement on behalf of the board of Docomomo Louisiana as an "epitaph" for Hoffman. Councilwomen Head and Clarkson invited Docomomo Louisiana to meet to discuss critical modernist public structures which are endangered.

*The rebuild costs over 20% more. It's possible that if the RSD chose renovation over rebuild for five schools, we could get a sixth school renovated for free.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hoffman Elementary (threatened)

The New Orleans City Council will determine the fate of Hoffman elementary on Thursday 9/17. Email your comments to Stacy Head.

Statement from the Board of the Louisiana chapter of docomomo*:

"The proposed demolition of Hoffman Elementary is the latest in a series of losses of significant institutional works of twentieth century architecture in New Orleans. The building is one of the few extant designed by Charles Colbert, one of Louisiana's finest mid century architects. It demonstrates a commitment to sustainable design through excellent attention to natural ventilation and daylighting in the classrooms. It was frugal in energy use, with covered outdoor circulation rather than air conditioned corridors. Colbert's commitment to progressive buildings to enhance public education was widely recognized in New Orleans and nationally. Given the large number of available school sites, demolishing this important work is unnecessary and anti-historic. If the RSD is not interested in renovating the building, a less costly alternative than new construction, it should sell the building so that this important artifact of New Orleans history is preserved."

* docomomo is the international committee for documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighbourhoods of the modern movement

Monday, September 14, 2009

New State Office Building (1957-2009)

New State Office Building (1957-2009)
August Perez & Associates. Goldstein, Parham and Labouisse. Favrot, Reed, Mathes & Bergman.
image source: 1954-55 Annual Report of the Mayor.

take a minute to read today's t-p :: Flood damaged state office building, state Supreme Court finally demolished

"Finally" demolished? And yet the close of the article admits the building has been demolished even AFTER the plan for its replacement structure is no longer in place. It's obscene.

"However, the need for a new building evaporated when the state and Saints owner Tom Benson agreed on plans for the state to lease office space in the nearby Dominion Tower building. The state now plans to leave the sites of the former office building and Supreme Court building vacant for the foreseeable future."

Unfortunately our foreseeable future still lacks a leader with a VISION.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Preserving the Recent Past :: Lecture and Panel Discussion

Pre-cast concrete space frame system

Pre-cast concrete space frame system. Pre-cast units held together with post-tensioned steel cables. Simon Bolivar Ave. Central City. Albert C. Ledner, architect. from: Talk about Architecture, Lemann, Heard and Klingman


Tuesday, September 15, 2009
6:30 p.m. Cash bar
7 p.m. Lecture and panel discussion

At the PRC
923 Tchoupitoulas St.
(in the Warehouse District)


This exclusive event for PRC and Ogden members will illustrate the value and integrity of architecture from our recent past.

Arthur Q. Davis, born in 1920 in New Orleans, is a modern architect whose long and prolific career has earned fame and respect both locally and around the world. He studied under masters at Tulane University's School of Architecture as well as Harvard University. He has been a pioneer in the fields of modern architecture and design in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast; and although he is internationally renowned, he remains deeply rooted in the culture of his native city.

J. Richard Gruber is director of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans. He and Arthur Q. Davis co-wrote a book, It Happened by Design: The Life and Work of Arthur Q. Davis, published by University Press of Mississippi in April 2009.

- Jack Davis, editor, writer, and board member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation
- Albert Ledner, modernist architect and former apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright
- Wayne Troyer, award-winning architect and board member of the PRC
- Elliot Perkins, executive director of the Historic District Landmarks Commission

Presented by the PRC's Membership Education Committee, chaired by Julie Habetz.


$5 - open to members of the PRC and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

PRC memberships start at $35 per year - join onsite!
For more information, contact Suzanne at 504.636.3399 or

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Upcoming hearings on our Modernist Schools

Last Thursday the New Orleans City Council decided to change the date of the hearing on Hoffman Elementary to Thursday September 17, 2009 at 10 am City Council Chambers.

In addition, FEMA is hosting two Historic Preservation Public Meetings for Wheatley and Lafon.

FEMA plans to post information requesting public comments on the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism’s (CRT) website on or about September 15, 2009. This posting will include information about the proposed project and the upcoming historic preservation public meeting. The comment period will extend for 15 days and will close on or about September 30, 2009. This will allow the public with the opportunity to post comments for approximately one week following the public meeting and give the Section 106 consulting parties a reasonable opportunity to review the posted comments prior to the next Section 106 consultation meeting. FEMA will forward the link to the CRT website to you once the information is posted.
The Wheatley meeting is set for Tuesday, September 22, 2009 from 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm at the Sojourner Truth Neighborhood Center, 2200 Lafitte Street.
The Lafon meeting is set for Wednesday, September 23, 2009 from 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm at the C.J. Peete Community Center, 2514 Washington Street.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Activism Alert :: Hoffman Elementary :: Last Chance

Hoffman Elementary
Hoffman Elementary, originally uploaded by regional.modernism.
Thursday September 3 at 10 am the City Council will hear four NEIGHBORHOOD CONSERVATION DISTRICT COMMITTEE APPEALS


LONA HANKINS, DIRECTOR OF CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS, RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT Requesting to appeal the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee’s decision of

"denial" of the demolition of property located at 2622 S. Prieur Street. (Hoffman Elementary)

This is the last chance. I will do my best to speak on behalf of Docomomo Louisiana. If anyone else can attend, I think it would really help the case. Please email me (fjudd(AT) and let me know if you think you can make it. THANKS!

photos of Hoffman

In addition, I also found out that the RSD has been granted a demo permit for Bradley Elementary School (Ricciuti and Benson architects, 1953) which is outside the NCDC. I'm going to go photograph it today and will keep you posted.

Friday, August 28, 2009

"Modern New Orleans :: One of the finest and most progressive cities in the United States"

What a gem! Found this brilliant clip today on YouTube via CoolIris. This short film includes fantastic aerial views and streetscapes of the River, downtown (the "Parisian" Cafe du Monde) uptown (Tulane - and some grand "suburban" homes) Shushan Airport and Canal Street, Roosevelt Hotel, Charity Hospital, fabulous cars, men in suits and hats. A must see. Unfortunately, I can't embed the video here, but click on the icon and it will take you to YouTube. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

re: Out of the Office reply

kodachrome courtesy of the Stock Family Archive

Regional Modernism is on holiday.
Be back in a few weeks.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Modernism : Lost and FOUND!

Petrolane, 1352 Jefferson Highway
Petrolane, 1352 Jefferson Highway, originally uploaded by regional.modernism. Charles L. Franck Photographers. The Historic New Orleans Collection

Mystery solved :: Architect of the Petrolane building on Jefferson Highway was F. Monroe Labouisse

Milton Scheuermann (Tulane School of Architecture class of 1956, member of TSA faculty for 50 years and counting) recollects:

"The building was designed by F. Monroe Labouisse, who at that time was partner in the firm of Goldstein, Parham & Labouisse. In fact, it was that building that made me decide that I wanted to work for the firm and I got my summer job as a 3rd year student with them. I had the greatest admiration for Labouisse.

Leaving New Orleans on Jefferson Highway the building was on the right at the last right turn of the S Curve leading to Ochsner Hospital after crossing the railroad tracks after entering into Jefferson Parish. I actually remember seeing the drawings for the building in the office as well as Labouisse's sketches. I believe there were only 2 or 3 sheets. It made my day!!!"

Thanks Milton! You just made my day.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Modernism: Lost and ...

This image was found via Louisiana Digital Libraries. Titled as "Petrolane, 1352 Jefferson Highway" by Charles L. Franck Photographers. source: The Historic New Orleans Collection.

Too fabulous to escape somebody's memory. Whodunnit?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hoffman Elementary (yes we can!)

Hoffman Elementary (THREATENED)
Hoffman Elementary (THREATENED), Section showing sun control and ventilation. 2622 Prieur Street, New Orleans, LA. Sol Rosenthal and Charles Colbert, architects, 1948-1954. Image source = Idea: The Shaping Force. SFMPOP Preliminary assessment: "complete replacement"
originally uploaded by regional.modernism.
While it's raining outside, the sun is shining on Hoffman Elementary and the residents of the Hoffman Triangle neighborhood. The Recovery School District has been seeking a demolition permit for Hoffman Elementary, even though the RSD currently does not have funds to rebuild a school on that site.

Yesterday the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee (NCDC) voted to DENY the RSD a demolition permit for Hoffman. The Hoffman structure is well-designed for our extreme climate and could definitely be adapted with contemporary advances in glazing and given a new life. Need inspiration? Look no further. A zeitgeist school design exists in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Munkegaard's School was designed by architect Arne Jacobsen 1952-1956. The Danes have taken good care of the school and it is still in use and fresh as the day it was born.

Thank you NCDC for returning a bit of faith in good government to this nearly weary warrior.

Comments on Wheatley coming soon...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mystery modernist building

This photo arrived in my inbox yesterday. The owners of the photo thought that it may depict the since demolished St. Frances Cabrini School (Curtis and Davis, architects, 1956). I've seen some vintage photos of the school before, but don't remember it having a scalloped roof overhang.
There appears to be a PA system on the roof which could indicate a school.

Anyone recognize this structure?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sacra Conversazione

Carol Robinson Gallery, 840 Napoleon Avenue (at Magazine Street)

Statement by the Artist

The focus of this exhibit is a collection of abstract paintings that recall elements of specifically two demolished buildings - one destroyed before Hurricane Katrina, the Rivergate Convention Center, and one demolished after and because of Katrina, St. Frances Cabrini Church in Gentilly.

My emphasis in these paintings is to capture the essence of the buildings and to represent the feeling of turmoil, destruction and a sense of loss for those creations by using form, color, value, and textural properties of the paint.

These structures were treasures because they were the result of a vision, a collaboration of many talented artists and craftsmen expressing their dream and creativity, special skills, abilities and brilliance through their art. They were places for a community to gather, exchange ideas, worship, practice commerce, or come together and celebrate. They were treasures because of the innovative designs and engineering feats that were revolutionary at the time of their construction in the 1960's.

My father, Nathaniel C. "Buster" Curtis, Jr. was an architect, artist, and historian. He loved people, his family, his heritage and his work. He was the Chief Project Architect and Director as well as the designer of the Rivergate Convention Center and held the same title for the Louisiana Superdome. He was a gentle, humble man who was very talented and proud of his accomplishments. He died in 1997, almost two years to the day after the demolition of the Rivergate began. This exhibit is dedicated to his memory and his love of architecture.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Form follows function

This sectional diagram of the Hoffman Elementary School (Charles Colbert, 1948-1954) illustrates how the inverted steel truss spanning the roof provides both sun control and ventilation. The school is threatened with demolition and is on the NCDC agenda today June 1, 2009. Meeting is at City Hall Council Chambers, 1300 Perdido at 2 pm.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hoffman Elementary (threatened)

Hoffman Elementary model
Hoffman Elementary model, 2622 S. Prieur New Orleans, originally uploaded by regional.modernism.
Hoffman Elementary is on the NCDC Agenda on Monday June 1, 2009. It was the first school designed by Charles Colbert, who later designed McDonogh 36 and the iconic Wheatley Elementary. The following description is from Idea: the Shaping force by Charles Colbert.

'Hoffman Elementary (1948), first referred to by the School Board as "that cowshed," was designed before the general use of air conditioning and responded to such educational concerns of the day as variable classroom sizes, direct access to outdoor instructional area, sun and breeze control devices, and the reduction of visible distractions. A scale model of a typical classroom was used to determine the precise distribution of natural light; while entire walls of operating doors and windows allowed the passage of evaporative breezes over the students' bodies. Classrooms were isolated from corridor activities by a barrier wall as air movement was directed upward by a sloping ceiling above. An inverted truss created a sun protective overhang on the air entry side, while on the opposite side of the classroom, the sun was refiected from the flat corridor roof to the inclined interior ceiling, for diffusion to work surfaces below. The use of the inverted truss resulted from two functional necessities, air movement and the distribution of daylight. A study model was used to determine the most effective angle for the overhead ceiling at New Orleans' particular latitude. The use of the inverted roof truss merely accommodated these dictating needs. The profile of the roof truss is exposed on the exterior of each building wing by colorful enamel panels. The dictates of light, sound, air movement and the elimination of unnecessary visual distractions actually shaped the cross section of the building. The building's exterior shape was merely the result of interior requirements.'

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Thesis Exhibit at the Ogden

Thesis 2009
Thesis 2009, Auto-mated Bloom: Bio-farming in the Atchafalaya Bay, Greg Barton, Tulane School of Architecture, originally uploaded by regional.modernism.
Please join us for the opening of

PROVOCATIONS: Tulane School of Architecture Thesis Projects 2009
Ogden Museum of Southern Art
925 Camp Street, New orleans, LA 70130

Friday May 8, 2009

6pm - 7pm RECEPTION
5th floor, Stephen Goldring Hall at the Ogden Museum

Commentary by
Billie Tsien, Tod William Billie Tsien Architects, New York
Mack Scogin, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Atlanta

Hosted by Kenneth Schwartz, FAIA, Dean
Tulane School of Architecture in collaboration with
The Ogden Museum of Southern Art

For information, call 504-314-2361
Exhibition is Wednesday May 6 - Sunday May 10

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Arthur Q. Davis: Legacy of a Modern Architect

Arthur Q. Davis, FAIA
Arthur Q. Davis, FAIA, originally uploaded by regional.modernism.
press release: Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Arthur Q. Davis: Legacy of a Modern Architect
Exhibition highlighting local architect’s career and debut of his new biography

In 1947, a time in which few New Orleans-based architects were advancing modern architecture, Arthur Q. Davis and his partner, Nathanial C. Curtis, established their practice in the city. The Curtis and Davis firm was best known for designing the Louisiana Superdome and modernist landmarks in New Orleans, including the New Orleans Rivergate Exhibition Center; the New Orleans Public Library; Royal Orleans Hotel; St. Frances Cabrini Church; the Caribe Building; the Automotive Life Building; private residences (including Davis’ own); Thomy Lafon Elementary School; and the George Washington Carver Elementary, Junior and Senior High schools. In later decades, under his Arthur Q. Davis, FAIA, and Partners firm, he designed the New Orleans Arena, a new town project in Indonesia and numerous other projects.

On April 23, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art will open the exhibition “Arthur Q. Davis: Legacy of a Modern Architect,” an overview of Davis’ long and illustrious career. The exhibition will showcase images, drawings and related archival materials to create a cohesive look at Davis’ life and work. The exhibition will be on view until July 19, 2009.

“This exhibition and the related publication seek to increase the public’s awareness of his legacy, and that of his architectural partners, while also focusing attention on the significance of many of these now endangered modernist landmarks,” says Ogden Museum of Southern Art Director J. Richard Gruber.

Arthur Q. Davis at Exhibition Opening and Booksigning on Thurs. April 23

Davis will be at the Ogden on Thursday, April 23, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (during Ogden After Hours) to open the exhibition and sign copies of his recently released book “It Happened by Design: The Life and Work of Arthur Q. Davis” (University Press of Mississippi/Ogden Museum of Southern Art). Davis’ co-author, Ogden director J. Richard Gruber, will also be at the event. (Ogden After Hours is the Ponderosa Stomp Preview featuring Bobby Rush.)

About Arthur Q. Davis, FAIA
Arthur Q. Davis was born in 1920 in New Orleans. After graduating from Isidore Newman School, he entered Tulane University’s School of Architecture at age 17. Davis met his wife, Mary Henriette Wineman Davis, while he attended Tulane and she—a native of Detroit, Michigan—attended Newcomb College. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, then advanced his architectural studies at Harvard University under noted masters Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer before working with Eero Saarinen. As a partner in the firms including Curtis and Davis, and more recently Arthur Q. Davis, FAIA, and Partners, Davis worked on a number of notable projects in United States and abroad, including Vietnam, Aruba, Scotland, Indonesia, and Berlin, Germany. Today, at age 89, Davis is still active in the community.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Vision::Aerie School Threatened with Demolition

The Phillis Wheatley Elementary School (1954) is the most significant school facility built in mid 20th century New Orleans. It is also among the most significant Modern buildings in the city today. We have already lost the Rivergate (1969-1997) and Cabrini Church (1961-2007) by Curtis and Davis. Architect Charles Colbert assessed Wheatley among the finest of his designs in his career. In Colbert's architecture form followed function, but even more than that, idea shaped design. The Wheatley School stands above the field of mid-20th century schools because of Colbert's bold concept, tested innovations and efficiency of structure. The result - an eloquent airy urban tree house for learning. It is an excellent example of regional modernism as it cleverly addresses the harshness of our local climate. The elevated structure created ample play space for the children, protecting them from the beating sun or rain. It was also saved from flooding. It is shocking that the School Facilities Plan calls for its demoltion. It is still possible to renew the Wheatley School and reuse it as a school or community center. It just requires vision.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Content in Context :: Place and Time :: Google Earth

mod map mashup
ABOVE: modernism map mashup - A screenshot of Google Earth incorporating 1) data from the SEAA and NOPL 2) gathered by the Regional Modernism class in 2008 3) uploaded to GeoCommons and 4) layered over Norman's Chart of the Lower Mississippi by A. Persac, 1858 courtesy of David Rumsey Historical Maps.

Last week I was in Toronto participating in the Visual Resources Association annual meeting. I presented on NeoGeography and Pedagogy as part of the Engaging New Technologies Session. Hope to get the powerpoint edited with proper links and uploaded to slideshare soon. My presentation focused on some of the ways one can use Google Earth to explore architecture in context.

Recent content and functional additions to
Google Earth enrich the exploration of place at different points in time. We can explore place through user-contributed photos (Panoramio) and panoramas (360Cities) as well as Google-created street level panoramas (Street View). The Panoramio / Street View mashup in Google Maps is gorgeous. It presents an index of thumbnails of Panoramio photos that are mapped to the same Street View location. Superb! One can explore contemporary perceptions of ancient Rome through the University of Virginia's Ancient Rome 3D gallery. If the cool reconstructions leave you longing for the romance of ruins, turn on the 360Cities layer and tour the interior of the Colosseum. Or take a trip to Venice and glide from one panorama to the next, a virtual tour reminding us that monuments do not exist in isolation. Engaging the Historical Imagery function allows one to select the satellite view from different dates according to available imagery. This is an invaluable tool for those of us involved in the mapping of the recovery of the city of New Orleans. Turn on the Rumsey Historical Maps layer and you can select a historic basemap. I would love to see more maps of New Orleans available as base layers, especially the Robinson Atlas of 1883.

I have a number of ideas of how I'd like to see the Google Earth developed in the future - but will save those thoughts for the next post.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

DOCOMOMO New Orleans map

This map was created with It shows some of the buildings which DOCOMOMO Louisiana intends to submit to the national registry.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 + Flickr + Flickr + Flickr, originally uploaded by regional.modernism. is a "bookmarklet" that you can add to your bookmarks toolbar. Then, when you click on it when you are in one of your flickr photo windows.
Presto! map interface.
Click: search place
Enter: location
That's it. Your photo is geotagged and on your fickr map. It is also accessible in the map which can be embedded in a website.

I found out about this cool tool in the GeoTagging Flickr group forum. go to: - All Our Flickr Photos on Google Maps!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Tulane School of Architecture is pleased to announce the presence of the New Orleans Virtual Archive online. This project was conceived during the Exodus of 2005. In June of 2006 we were awarded a generous grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts to preserve and create universal access to our slide collection of New Orleans. Nearly 3000 slides that were taken by faculty, staff and students over the past sixty years have now been digitized and catalogued in LUNA.

Special thanks our partners at Tulane Technology Services who have provided server support and to all who have contributed to this collection.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Preservation Matters: Keynote address by Robert Ivy

On January 31, 2009 the Tulane School of Architecture hosted the Preservation Matters symposium organized by Dean Kenneth Schwartz. In this introduction he outlines the two main purposes of the symposium.
"First, to focus on preservation education issues and the future of preservation in an open exploratory way, while inviting everyone interested in this topic... to focus on what this means to Tulane University as a national research university in this amazing city. . . . Second is to recognize the extraordinary contributions by Gene Cizek - the contributions he has made throughout his distinguished career at Tulane as Director of Preservation Studies." Dean Schawrtz also introduces the panel, Erica Avrami, Daniel Bluestone, Eugene Darwin Cizek, Ned Kaufman, Stanley Lowe, Jorge Rigau and the Keynote speaker, Robert Ivy.

The editor of Architectural Record since 1996, Robert Ivy holds a Masters in Architecture from Tulane University and is a former student of Gene Cizek. He provides an overview of Cizek's extensive accomplishments and legacy. Ivy looks forward to discuss challenges to preservation in China and London. He then looks back and frames the history of architectural preservation in the context of iconic buildings that focus on a significant person, event or place.

Ivy reminds us of the rich history of preservation in New Orleans. (In preservation we are progressive!) In 1925 New Orleans was the first city to pass an ordinance to create a historic district - the Vieux Carré. He also recalls the dedication of citizens like Elizabeth Werlein of New Orleans and the role of Tulane University in the growth of our local movement. He reviews the advances made by Tulane alumni in the field.
  • Richard Koch (1910) "the progenitor of the Historic American Building Survey in New Orleans"
  • Samuel Wilson (1931) "scholarly, authoritative, erudite and accurate"
  • A. Hays Town (1926) "headed HABS in Mississippi....and produced the first drawings that HABS produced"
  • Bernard Lemann (1926) "created an inventory of historic sites...part of the 1967 Community Renewal Program....mentor to generations of Tulanians"
In the Vieux Carré: A General Statement Lemann voiced the importance of recognizing the tout ensemble - the relationship of the part to the whole. This marks the evolution of an attitude of preserving individual buildings to one of preserving districts and a more comprehensive understanding of place.

Ivy reviews the history of legislation which enabled the growth of the movement. He discusses the National Trust's Main Street program as transformative - linking commercial revitalization to the preservation of historic buildings and neighborhoods. He credits New Orleans as a model community for preservation activity due to the combination of the high number of National Register Districts, efforts of the Preservation Resource Center, the enabling legislation and the commitment of individuals. Ivy's "democratization of preservation" is then the expansion of the dialogue and activity to a larger audience, "achieving the maximum benefit for the greatest number of people." He poses the question of representation. "Who is in charge here? Who guards the legacy? Who tells the story?"

Modernism, as exemplified locally in the Phillis Wheatley School, generally presents a problem to preservation. After the Second World War there was tremendous need for new buildings now. Some were excellent, worthy of care and recognition, while "others merely filled space." They present technical challenges due to the degradation of the physical fabric. They are often overlooked due to an "architectural myopia" - a condition that disables us from appreciating that which is too close.

Regarding sustainability, Ivy notes that the embedded energy of buildings is the greatest contributor to carbon emissions in the world. The percentage ranges by study -33% to 48% - more than transportation! This is increased by the energy required for demolition, hauling rubble and storing it somewhere "as a problem for the next generation."

New Orleans' architecture is generally well suited to its climate, utilizing convection, understanding how to pull a cooling breeze across a room. Extended roof lines shield walls from intense sun and rain.
(see: Hoffman School) This responsiveness to site needs to be recognized and LEED needs to integrate its standards with preservation. Ivy suggests we are approaching a renewed Urbanism, an "Age of the City." He challenges the panel and audience to consider the following:
  • What does Preservation mean now and for the future?
  • Who is it for?
  • What is the role of archaeology, science, economy, sustainability?

Special thanks to Tulane Technology Services for editing the video and hosting it on the Tulane YouTube channel.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Save Charity

Save Charity
Save Charity, originally uploaded by regional.modernism.

LSU/VA Medical Complex - Is It Really a Done Deal?
Over 70 acres of lower Mid-City cleared.
Over 200 historic buildings demolished.
Over 1,000,000 square feet of downtown buildings abandoned.

Come hear why one of the biggest economic development projects proposed for the city is also one of the most controversial, and learn about the issues, the alternatives, and why this matters to every New Orleans neighborhood.

Wednesday, January 21
Bourbon Orleans Hotel - 717 Orleans St.
6:00—6:30 reception * 6:30—8:00 presentation

Speakers include:

Bill Borah, attorney and author
Walter Gallas, National Trust for Historic Preservation
Sandra Stokes, Foundation for Historical Louisiana
Bobbi Rogers, Lower Mid-City Resident

Sponsored by:
Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates
Foundation for Historical Louisiana
National Trust for Historic Preservation


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sign the National Trust's Petition to Save Charity

TAKE ACTION - Sign the National Trust's Petition to the Louisiana State Legislature

sign it here

The petition reads:

On November 25, 2008, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Louisiana State University announced the selection of the Mid-City neighborhood for the site of their new hospitals, in spite of the fact that the State Legislature has not yet finalized plans for funding for the LSU Hospital. The current plan would needlessly destroy the historic neighborhood around Charity Hospital, where residents have been rebuilding and restoring their community since Hurricane Katrina.

We, the undersigned, applaud the Legislature’s intention to have a hearing and urge consideration of ALL the alternatives for bringing quality health care back to New Orleans, including alternatives that rehab the historic Charity Hospital into a state of the art medical facility an option that would be both faster and cheaper and much less destructive than the plan proposed by LSU and the VA.

Thanks PreservationNation.