Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Field Trip: Chicago, IL

The Chicago Architecture Foundation's exhibit Chicago Model City features an extraordinary 320-square-foot model of the downtown area. Using data sets from different sources -- including the Skidmore Owings & Merrill archive -- Columbian Model & Exhibit Works, Ltd. designers used Google SketchUp to develop the forms of individual structures. After grooming the data, designers employed a stereolithography machine to fabricate the resinous building models, which were then cured, embellished, and assembled.

Image above: Columbian Model & Exhibit Works, Ltd. Downtown Chicago Model. Chicago Architecture Foundation, the Santa Fe Building, Chicago, IL. 2009. As viewed 24.8.2011 by K. Rylance.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Burnham in NOLA

In the summer of 1902, Chicago architect and urban planner Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846-1912) visited New Orleans, along with his mechanical engineer, Charles Wilkes. The two registered at the St. Charles Hotel while they met with representatives of the Hibernia Trust & Banking Company to discuss plans for a new skyscraper to be located on the corner of Carondelet and Gravier Streets. The structure was intended to rise in tandem with a 12-story addition to the St. Charles Hotel so that a common wall could be created.

The Hibernia Bank utilized Burnham's steel and masonry building for nearly two decades, when the company moved to a new skyscraper designed by the New Orleans firm Favrot & Livaudais. The Burnham structure was renamed the Carondelet Building, and more recently renovated as the Hampton Inn (226 Carondelet Street).


"Buildings to Go Up Fast: The Hibernia Trust Company and the St. Charles Hotel to Construct Their Skyscrapers Simultaneously." The Times-Picayune 27 June 1902, p. 3; "Hibernia Trust." The Times-Picayune 10 July 1902, p. 3; "News and Notables at the New Orleans Hotels." The Times-Picayune 8 July 1902, p. 13;

The Chicago History Museum's Research Center maintains D.H. Burnham & Company plans for Bank & Offices, Hibernia Bank, New Orleans. [DHB-NC11]. The Art Institute of Chicago's Ryerson & Burnham Library maintains office correspondence for Burnham & Wilkes in its Daniel H. Burnham Collection (Series I, Business Correspondence).

Monday, August 22, 2011

Neutra in NOLA

On Monday, 17 November 1952, Austrian-born architect Richard Neutra (1892-1970) gave an evening address at Newcomb College's Dixon Hall. Co-sponsored by the Tulane University School of Architecture and the New Orleans Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the public lecture focused on contemporary architecture.

The Newcomb College Art Gallery had displayed photographs of Neutra's projects ten years earlier, in conjunction with an educational exhibit on the theme of surfaces, textures and colors of structural materials. Local merchants loaned samples of brick, wood, metal, glass and stone.

Read more in "Architect Neutra to Deliver Address." The Times-Picayune 17 November 1952, p. 7. "Exhibit at College Art Gallery Nears." The Times-Picayune 15 April 1941, p. 12. W.M. Darling, "Pen, Chisel and Brush." The Times-Picayune 20 April 1941, p. 40.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Beekman's Haberdashery

We recently came across a wonderful sketch in one of the Benson & Riehl Office sketchbooks, circa 1950. It represents the facade of Beekman's Men's Clothing Store, which was located at St. Charles Avenue & Commercial Place, municipal numbers 328-330 (top image). The Beekman haberdashery operated from this location for nearly fifty years, from 1901-1951.

In January 1926, the newly-founded firm of Andry & Feitel (1925-1966) collaborated with interiors specialist Harry Moses (1877-1935) to design a new Beekman's marquee (bottom image), display windows and a musicians' balcony. By the spring of 1951, the building was sold to an unknown investor, and the Petroleum Club of New Orleans entered into a ten-year lease agreement for the second floor.(1) The 1951 sale inaugurated a series of dramatic alterations to the building.

Businessman Henry Lewis renovated the storefront and first-floor interior for his men's and boy's clothing store in 1953. (2) Within four years, the Greater New Orleans Federation of Churches acquired the property and transformed the building into its Church House. (3) The Federation announced its intent to sell the structure in 1974. Within months the building was extensively damaged by "a hammer-wielding vandal intent on destruction." (4) The Old Spaghetti Factory Restaurant chain then acquired the property, and converted it into a pasta parlor.(5) Four years later, Mayor Ernest Morial announced plans to demolish the structure and replace it with a 2,000-room hotel that would cater to Pan-American travelers.(6) The site is now a parking lot.

(1)"Sale of Beekman Building is Largest Reported Transaction of the Week." The Times-Picayune 15 April 1951, Section 5, p. 1.

(2)"Clothing Store to Open Today." The Times-Picayune 25 March 1953, p. 6.

(3)"Dr. Grey Named President of New Orleans Federation of Churches." The Times-Picayune 23 February 1957, p. 20.

(4)"Church House Sale Planned." The Times-Picayune 9 March 1974, Sect. 2, p. 4; Wesley Jackson, "Vandalism & Theft." The Times-Picayune 25 January 1975, Section 1, p. 12.

(5)"Spaghetti is Speciality of New Restaurant." The Times-Picayune 28 July 1976 (Morning Edition), Sect. 4, p. 16.

(6)Joe Massa, "Hotel Catering to Foreign Travelers Planned." The Times-Picayune 27 April 1980, Sect. 1, p. 33.

Images above: Beekman's, 328-330 St. Charles Avenue. Graphite on ledger paper. Circa 1950. Benson & Riehl Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive; Andry & Feitel, architects. Half of Elevation of Marquise, for Bob Beekman. Blueprint. January 1926. Harry F. Moses Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Otis Elevator Company of Chicago

In 1909, Otis Elevator Company of Chicago's President Baldwin journeyed to New Orleans to secure a land deal. He negotiated with businessman Peter O'Brien to acquire the latter's elevator manufacturing plant located at the corner of Carondelet and St. Joseph Streets.(1) The Otis Company wanted to establish a showroom for its elevators, and the O'Brien property provided a good location.

The Otis Elevator Company secured the architectural services of Favrot & Livaudais to design a two-story showroom/office structure that would prominently display the company's mainstay (1910-1912). The architects selected an Italianate form that nodded to the company's Chicago home and its emergent Prairie School style. Built at a cost of $25K, the Otis Elevator Company maintained its New Orleans office for decades.(2) George J. Glover was the general contractor on the project, and the Albert Weiblen Marble & Granite Company was one of the sub-contractors.(3)

The short-lived trade magazine Building Review of the South -- published in New Orleans -- featured the structure in a 1919 article devoted to the "elevator pent house":

"In most cases elevator pent houses are made obnoxious by careless treatment. In large cities where the roofs of the business section are in constant view of thousands of people from the taller buildings it seems that some attention should be devoted to roof appearances, or to that most prominent feature of the roof, the pent house. The designers of the two examples published this month realized the advantages of emphasizing the pent house. Anyone who views the two buildings will concede that the tower treatment is the single thing that gives especial distinction to the buildings,--that is, sets them apart from other commercial structures by adding a feature of interest that ordinarily would be absent."(4)

(1)"More Good Realty Sales Involve New Buildings." The Daily Picayune 16 January 1909, p. 5.

(2)"Real Estate the Real Thing Here." The Daily Picayune 9 January 1912, p. 40.

(3)George J. Glover, general contractor. "Form of Sub-Contract" with Albert Weiblen Marble & Granite Company dated 23 April 1912. Box 15, Albert Weiblen Marble & Granite Works Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

(4)"Elevator Pent Houses: Two New Orleans Examples Which Are Models of Proper Treatment." Building Review Feburary 1919, p. 14. The image above precedes the article, appearing on p. 13 of the same issue. Photograph was taken by Schnetzer.

The Art Institute of Chicago maintains certain records of the Otis Elevator Company. You can read more about the company's history in The First Hundred Years (New York: Otis Elevator Company, 1953).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Changing Hands on Carondelet

A large number of properties along Carondelet Street changed hands in the years between 1920 and 1930. A series of residential lots came up at auction in the summer of 1923 (map shown above), and by 1926, the Presbyterian Hospital Group (PHG) expanded its existing holdings by purchasing adjacent Baronne Street lots for a new medical complex.

The PHG retained the services of New Orleans architect Rathbone DeBuys (c. 1874-1960) to design a "skyscraper type" hospital. (1) He and Charles Armstrong (1887-1947) had designed an earlier PHG structure, the Corinne Casanas Free Clinic, in 1915 (814-820 Girod Street, completed 1916). After various revisions, his PHG skyscraper hospital resulted in a single five-story structure, named the James H. Batchelor Building, which was completed in June 1928. Built at a cost of $200K, the fireproof building contained an elevator and was sheathed in limestone with polychromed "marble" embellishments. (2)

In 1930, the School Board -- then operating out of the City Hall Annex -- successfully negotiated the acquisition of the Casanas Clinic and the Batchelor Building, and relocated to the latter in January 1931. Rathbone DeBuys' building is now named after former School Superintendent Nicholas Bauer.

Image above: Advertisement, The Times-Picayune 6 October 1923, p. 35.

(1) "Presbyterian Hospital Buys Three Old Homes." The Times-Picayune 14 February 1926, p. 13.

(2) Although DeBuys designed the building, the Albert Weiblen Marble and Granite Works supplied the ornamental stone carvings. Its staff architect, Albert Rieker (1887-1959), developed the requisite drawings. The Southeastern Architectural Archive retains a cartoon for Rieker's stone caduceus in Collection 39 The Albert Weiblen Marble & Granite Works Office Records. Consult the Archive's online inventories here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Keck in NOLA

In the spring of 1955, Chicago architect George Fred Keck (1895-1980) visited New Orleans for an extended stay, as guest to the Tulane University School of Architecture. Then Dean John F. Dinwiddie (1902-1959) had invited Keck to serve as a visiting critic for the school's Fifth-Year students, and Keck challenged the group with designing a small residential structure.

The Chicago architect had visited Tulane approximately five years earlier, at the invitation of then Dean Buford L. Pickens (1906-1995), who had worked for Keck after attending the University of Illinois. Pickens reminisced about the visit to a Tulane audience in 1988:

"He lectured to the students and gave his spiel on modern architecture and the necessity of seeing things in a different way than the traditional. But at the same time, that's one reason I wanted him to come down here--so that he could see the affinity between the old architecture down here and the new architecture that we were talking about, because the two seemed to come together. The two ideas, architectural concepts, came together here because historical and modern blended--the openness, the columnar quality you get when you drive down St. Charles or any other street in New Orleans."(1)

Keck was especially renowned for his 1933 Chicago World's Fair "Home of the Future" and his 1934 Crystal House. After World War II, he entered into an architectural partnership with his brother William, practicing as Keck & Keck. Together they focused on passive solar systems and prefabrication.

You can learn more about his practice by consulting the Chicago Architects Oral History Project, which includes a transcript of the 1991 interview with William Keck (1895-1995) here.

(1) Talk About Architecture: A Century of Architectural Education at Tulane, ed. by Bernard Lemann, Malcolm Heard, Jr. & John Klingman. New Orleans: Tulane University School of Architecture, 1993, p. 111.

Image above: Brochure Cover. Green's Ready-Built Homes Present the Solar Home as Created by George Fred Keck. 1946. Ptak Science Books, as viewed 15 August 2011 at http://longstreet.typepad.com/thesciencebookstore/2009/09/paleofuturology-solar-house-1946-.html

Sullivan in NOLA

In the spring of 1906, Chicago architect Louis Sullivan (1856-1924) and his wife visited New Orleans. They spent a few days in the city before traveling on to Ocean Springs, Mississippi for an extended stay.

Sullivan's Ocean Springs bungalow was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina (2005). Read Michael Martinez's Chicago Tribune article about the destruction here.

See: "Chicago Architect on a Visit." The Times-Picayune 14 March 1906 page 16.

To view the iconic 1890 photograph of Louis H Sullivan at his bungalow in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, go to the Art Institute of Chicago. Click here to access image & related collection.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Hotel Grunewald Caterers

New Orleans architects Toledano, Wogan & Bernard (TWB; 1914-23) designed this 926-928 Canal Street structure for the Hotel Grunewald Caterers in 1916 (completed 1917). Noted for its enameled terracotta, the building served the caterers' purposes until the mid-1920s, when candy sellers Fuerst & Kraemer renovated the interior for a candy store and second-floor tea room.

TWB and its predecessor firm Toledano & Wogan (1898-1914) often used ornamental terracotta on their buildings, and maintained a business relationship with F. Codman Ford, who was the local agent for the Chicago-based Northwestern Terra Cotta Company (1877-1956) as well as the St. Louis-based Hydraulic-Press Brick Co.  AIA Associate Joseph Ariatti was the tile contractor for the Grunewald Caterers job.(1)

The Southeastern Architectural Archive retains certain records for TWB and its successor and predecessor firms. For an inventory of their drawings, click here. The National Building Museum in Washington, DC retains records for the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company.

(1)"Joseph Ariatti." John Smith Kendall. History of New Orleans, vol. 3 (1922), p. 922.

Top image above: "Canal Street Lease." The Times-Picayune 02 September 1923, Section 2, Page 1.

Bottom images: The Builders Specialties Co., Ltd, 304 and 306 Baronne Street. Advertisements in New Orleans through a Camera. New Orleans: 1890s. Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Brooke Winter Garden 1906-07

In 1906, New Orleans architecture firm Toledano & Wogan designed an entertainment space for Thomas Preston Brooke (1856-1921), leader of the Chicago Marine Band and supporter of ragtime music. Known for his two-step "The Buffalo March," Brooke obtained financial backing for his 522 Baronne Street winter season venue from the Jackson Brewing Company, amongst others. Brooke's venture lasted one abbreviated season, after which the conductor declared bankruptcy.

The Southeastern Architectural Archive retains a microfilm copy of the original drawings.

Image above: The Harwell Evans Company, New York, photographers. From A Few Examples of the Work of Toledano & Wogan, Architects, Macheca Building, New Orleans, LA. n.d. The Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries. Harwell-Evans, with offices on East 28th Street, published The New York Architect, a monthly periodical.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

CFP: Preservation

Journal of the Future is now accepting articles and opinion pieces on the focus of preservation of items of historical value in the world today whether pertaining to personal, social, political, the future of humankind without preservation, or a combination of these areas. Articles should be closely related to this subject. The goal of this journal is to present these articles for all to access without hindrances. Journal of the Future: Preservation is a publication that is free for all to read in its electronic form.

Article Deadline: August 31, 2011
Acceptances/Rejections Prepared by: September 30, 2011
Anticipated Publication Date: November 2011

Recycled Architectural Drawings

As reported by The Times-Picayune 7 October 1919:

"A curious war expedient has just been declared no longer necessary and the books are about to be closed on one of the most remarkable makeshifts which were resorted to during the era of universal shortages. One of the most distressing of war needs, we all know, was bandages, and what our war ladies did to supply the deficiency was one of the bright spots in efficiency, but 'over there' it was not as with us merely as a matter of woman-power that was needed, but still more the cloth of sufficient softness and fineness to wrap upon wounds and to bind fractures.

The old rags crop was quickly exhausted and a partial resort was had to various [illegible] that when dried were soft and absorbent and non-septic enough for clinical purposes. But there was still grave need for cloth, especially of linen cloth, and out of the emergency came an idea. It was remembered that thousands upon thousands of architectural and engineering plans were printed on heavily sized linen tracing papers--the kind from which blueprints are made--and also that home builders and engineers have a certain sentimental respect for their used plans, so that instead of casting them into the discard when their purpose is accomplished the architect and engineer are in the habit of rolling up the originals and stacking them on the top shelf, to accumulate dust and dream away the declining years of their lives.

The war idea was to appeal to the builders and surveyors and all others who might have on hand such stocks to sacrifice them for the good of the armies.

The War and Navy Departments, shipbuilding concerns and many other industrial enterprises turned over their stocks, and literally thousands upon thousands of willing donors added to the stacks of materials, described as 'linen, calico, butter-muslin, brown holland, etc.' which were then passed through no less than seven processes before they were freed from their glue and coloring matters and finally were rolled into neat bandages to be shipped to the several military hospitals near the front and in England, where the chief supply of such materials was secured."

To read more, consult America's Historical Newspapers, an online database available through Tulane University's Howard-Tilton Memorial Library. If you are interested in other databases that cover historic Louisiana newspapers, consult the "Databases of Historical Louisiana Newspapers" Research Guide page here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Field Trip: Iron River, Michigan

A mining boom in the early twentieth century resulted in rapid population growth for Iron County, Michigan. Designed in 1902 and constructed 1904-05, Iron River's Central School (218 West Cayuga Street) was intended to serve the community's entire public school system. The student population grew so rapidly that Milwaukee architects Van Ryn & DeGelleke's initial building proved insufficient shortly after its completion, and Chicago architect John D. Chubb completed wing additions in 1911 (one shown above). Annex buildings were constructed in 1923, and by 1928 high school students were moved to a new structure, while primary and secondary students remained at Central.

By the mid-1970s, the local economy and population had dwindled, and Central School was closed in the spring of 1980. Listed on the National Register since 2008, the structure's fate remains uncertain despite periodic proposals for its adaptive reuse.

Image above: Central School, as photographed 23.07.2011. K. Rylance.