d o c o m o m o l o u i s i a n a is a regional chapter of an international committee dedicated to the

documentation and conservation of the buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the modern movement

Friday, January 8, 2016

Sixties Tulane Avenue

Edward B. Silverstein’s  Motel Conchetta (1962-1964) is one of the last surviving mid-century architect-designed highway lodging structures on Tulane Avenue. Conceived for the Losch Brothers in December 1962, the 3-story, 40-unit motel featured an entrance façade that uniquely referenced constructivist architecture with its cantilevered restaurant, vertical cubic signage and bold primary colors (postcard detail above).

During the mid-twentieth century, Tulane Avenue served as an important motel corridor for U.S. 51-61-65. Between 1955 and 1965, architects Benson & Riehl, Charles Colbert, Curtis & Davis, Harold Piqué, August Perez, M. Tony Sherman, and Edward B. Silverstein designed modernist lodging structures on this so-called “motel row.” Garnering the attention of writers Richard F. Dempenwolff and William S. Burroughs, these structures enticed motorists with convenient drive-up registration and parking, neon lights and theme-based cocktail lounges.

Silverstein (1909-89) designed the Conchetta for the Losch-Greco families in late 1962 and early 1963 (TP 8.4.1963).  Named for a family matriarch of Spanish heritage, the structure functioned as a motel for over a decade before its alteration as a women’s work-release prison facility.  The Losch family invested over $550,000 in the project. 

Silverstein acknowledged the venue’s urban placement by turning its motel elements inwards. Sheathed in precast concrete panels on its east and west elevations, the Conchetta offered privacy and quiet rooms. Organized around inner open-air walkways – which the architect called “planks” – the Conchetta allowed its guests private access to their suites through perpendicularly placed reinforced concrete arteries joined by spliced openings extending to the ground level parking area. Room-height plate glass windows afforded views of their vehicles parked immediately underneath their suites.

More intimately scaled than M. Tony Sherman’s earlier Fontainebleau and Curtis & Davis’ contemporaneous Pan-American, Silverstein’s Conchetta accommodated motel guests’ desires for convenience and discretion.  An architect versed with the needs of motorists, he angled and cantilevered the motel’s second-story restaurant in alignment with Tulane Avenue.  This plate-glassed projection attracted incoming motorists and served as a porte cochère for the registration area. It also supported a third-story gallery from which guests could watch the streetscape, including the annual St. Joseph’s Day parade. 

The Conchetta’s original entrance façade deployed the bold colors of the Spanish flag separated by aluminum mullions and precast concrete. A red wooden screen unified the front elevator/stair corridor under a rotating geometric “MOTEL” sign, the latter referencing the nearby Falstaff Brewing Company’s lettered tower.  The registration area’s “CONCHETTA” sign, the north elevation stair rails and third-story balcony rail were also primary red, while the restaurant’s window coverings were primary yellow.

August Perez's 30-unit Best Western Patio Motel (1962-1964) was constructed for $200,000. Like the Conchetta, its angled facade served to attract motorists. The raised structure accommodated private patios, a drive-up registration and guest parking.

Perez & Associates designed the structure for Anthony Guardina (TP 1.7.1962). Despite being plagued with frequent robberies, the motel expanded quickly.  In 1968, Guardina hired George Riehl and Donald Graves to design a 3-story addition. Four years later, the same firm began the structure's French Quarter-ification by removing the Perez curtain wall and adding faux masonry panels.

Both former motels are slated for demolition.

Images above:  Edward B. Silverstein. Motel Conchetta. 2620-2626 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans, LA. Undated postcard. Detail. Private collection.

August Perez. Patio Motel. 2820 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans, LA. Circa 1964-1967. Private collection.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

House Spotting on Laux Manor Drive

Laux Manor Drive, located near Airline Highway in Jefferson Parish, features a number of early Curtis and Davis designs. The firm's twenty-three FHA residences for developer Fred C. Loucks received a First Prize Award from the Gulf States Region of the American Institute of Architects. Early reports touted Laux Manor as the city's first fully air-conditioned subdivision.(1)

John W. Coffman, Jr. Residence (1953)
4 Laux Manor Drive
Architects: Curtis and Davis

Milton Breeding Residence (1953)
5 Laux Manor Drive
Architects: Curtis and Davis

Stanley Masson Residence (1953)
6 Laux Manor Drive
Architects: Curtis and Davis

Claude L. Kramer Residence (1953)
7 Laux Manor Drive
Architects: Curtis and Davis

Richard Souce Residence (1953)
9 Laux Manor Drive
Architects: Curtis and Davis

Charles Quinn Residence (1953)
10 Laux Manor Drive
Architects: Curtis and Davis

John T. Carson Residence (1953)
11 Laux Manor Drive
Architects: Curtis and Davis

Mahlon "Mel" Leavitt Residence (1953)
13 Laux Manor Drive
Architects: Curtis and Davis

James Cox Residence  (1953)
14 Laux Manor Drive
Architects: Curtis and Davis

Harvey T. Zammit Residence (1953)
16 Laux Manor Drive
Architects: Curtis and Davis

Lowell McKee Residence (1953)
18 Laux Manor Drive
Architects: Curtis and Davis

Chris Dobard Residence (1953)
20 Laux Manor Drive
Architects: Curtis and Davis

(1)"Laux Manor, New Orleans First All Air-Conditioned Subdivision Opens." The Times-Picayune 7 June 1953.

Image above:  Curtis and Davis, architects. John W. Coffman, Jr. Residence. 4 Laux Manor Drive, New Orleans, LA. Google Street View June 2014.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

House Spotting near Bancroft Drive

Guarino, Salvador and Hill Residences (1955-57)
3624, 3636 & 3640 Havana Street
Developer: Ed. J. Hernand, Jr. [Builder possibly Fred C. Loucks]

Armond Cobb Residence (1957-58)
2 Park Island Drive
Architect: Leon F. Dufrechou

Harry R. Cabral Jr. Residence (1960)
21 Park Island Drive
Architect: Charles J. Rowe

Adrian C. Sunkel Residence  ["Ashtray" House] (1961-62)
28 Park Island Drive
Architect:  Albert C. Ledner

Dixon Residence  (By 1962)
6421 St. Bernard Avenue
Architect unknown

Leonie Galatoire Residence (1964-66)
11 Park Island Drive
Architect: Albert C. Ledner

Charles Rowe Residence (1967)
5324 St. Bernard Avenue
Architects:  Saputo & Rowe

Samuel Leonard Residence ["Cointreau" House]  (1972-73)
9 Park Island Drive
Architect: Albert C. Ledner

Images above:  Charles Rowe, architect. Harry R. Cabral, Jr. Residence, 21 Park Island Drive, New Orleans, LA. Google Street View May 2015.

"Park Island Home Construction." Chamber of Commerce News Bulletin  XXVIII:38 (20 September 1957): p. 2.

Monday, November 30, 2015

House Spotting on Bancroft Drive

Bancroft Drive has some great mid-century modern residences, including the one shown above. Architect Mark Lowrey designed it for the Cabiran Family in 1957. If you are biking along this bayou artery, here are some houses to notice:

Joseph V. Gregoratti Residence (1964)
5300 Bancroft Drive
Contractor: James E. Favret & Co.

Scott Chotin Residence  (1957)
5600 Bancroft Drive
Architect: Charles J. Rowe

Jerome Goldman Residence (1957)
5724 Bancroft Drive
Architect unknown [Possibly Charles J. Rowe]

Louis R. Cabiran Residence (1961)
5730 Bancroft Drive
Architect: Mark Lowrey

Image above:  Mark Lowrey, architect. Louis R. Cabiran Residence, 5730 Bancroft Drive, New Orleans, LA. Google Street View January 2015.

Friday, October 4, 2013

October 5th Tour Postponed Due to Hurricane Karen, the October 5th walking tour of Lake Vista has been postponed. As soon as the new date is announced we will let you know; our goal is to schedule the event for another Saturday this month. DOCOMOMO US/Louisiana appreciates your understanding of the schedule change.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tour of Modern Buildings to take place October 5

DOCOMOMO US/Louisiana, the New Orleans chapter of the international working party for the DOcumentation and COnservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the MOdern MOvement, hosts the walking tour “Lake Vista: Modernism and the Ideal Planned Community” on Saturday, October 5, 2013. The meeting point for the tour is Lake Vista Spanish Fort parking lot and the tour begins at 1 p.m. Lake Vista is a New Orleans community created in the twentieth century on land developed north of the lakefront’s historic edge. It was designed to incorporate Modernist planning principles, with the complete separation of vehicular and pedestrian realms, using a unique network of automobile culs-de-sac and "fingers of green space." Churches, a school and commercial space were incorporated into the plan, which typifies some of the most prominent national thought at the time about ideal communities. The tour will cast light on Lake Vista’s urban design and in addition, tour stops will include examples of mid-century Modern institutional and residential architecture. Tour will be guided by John P. Klingman, author and Professor of Architecture, Tulane University. This is a 3-hour walking tour of Lake Vista. Cost per person is $25.00 to the general public, $15.00 DOCOMOMO US members, and $15.00 for students. Advance reservations by email (docomomolouisiana@gmail.com) are recommended but not required. “Lake Vista: Modernism and the Ideal Planned Community” will emphasize the goals of the DOCOMOMO US/Louisiana Chapter, organized to promote and protect Modern architecture and urban design in and around New Orleans. Some of the tour's highlights are included on the DOCOMOMO NOLA iPhone app, developed in association with Tulane University. “Lake Vista: Modernism and the Ideal Planned Community” is held in conjunction with the nationwide day of tours and other special events October 5, 2013 sponsored by DOCOMOMO US. For more information go to http://docomomo-us.org/tourday

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

DOCOMOMO US June 2013 E-News Brief

JUNE 2013
DOCOMOMO US is the working party of Docomomo in the United States. It is a 501(c)3 registered non-profit organization, a union of regional chapters that shares its members' knowledge of and enthusiasm for the Modern Movement, promotes public interest in it through lectures and walking tours, and organizes advocacy efforts to protect endangered sites and buildings.
Join the national community of architects, historians, preservationists, students and modern movement enthusiasts dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of modern architecture and landscapes in the United States. Membership is available online at www.docomomo-us.org or by downloading our membership form.
Go Modern! at www.docomomo-us.org, and follow DOCOMOMO US on Facebook and Twitter

World Trade Center threatened in New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana. Another mid-century modern building may be demolished in the Crescent City. Edward Durell Stone’s World Trade Center, built as the International Trade Mart, has been under threat since the mid-1990s. Begun in 1959 and partially occupied by 1966, the ITM set the standard for other such structures worldwide. Designed to promote foreign commerce through the Port of New Orleans, the ITM was home to the trade organization, the Dock Board, stevedores, international consulates, shipping companies, a women’s clinic, modistes and an art gallery.
Stone and associate architect Robert Lee Hall conceived the 33-story building with nautical associations, an enormous compass and an anchor to a landscaped plaza adjacent to the Mississippi River. Developers hoped that New Orleans would become the modern world’s Damascus and Stone aligned the structure’s four wings with the cardinal directions.  Situated atop 600 tension piles, the reinforced concrete structure afforded 4 wings of leasable space on each of the office floors. Solid concrete panels alternated with floor-to-ceiling windows that provided expansive views of the city surpassed only by the penthouse vista. Macton Machinery Company -- maker of the 1964 New York World’s Fair “Tower of Light” -- fabricated the revolving penthouse cocktail lounge that visually linked the Mississippi to Lake Pontchartrain.
When asked about the building, Hicks Stone, Edward Durell Stone's son and author of the book Edward Durell Stone: A Son's Untold Story of a Legendary Architect stated, "Father’s building is a serene and elegant presence on the New Orleans skyline. Its vertical lines are emblematic of his 1960s era work. A look at any image of the surrounding buildings quickly reveals a dizzying array of clumsy and charmless contemporary high-rises. The only other building that stands out as a project of distinction is Skidmore, Owings and Merrill’s One Shell Square, but even that has a sterile and anonymous quality to it. If they demolish Father’s building, they are destroying the best contemporary high-rise that they have. Instead of tearing it down, the owners should expend some effort into restoring and improving it."
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu recently proclaimed the site the “most important piece of property in the city” and announced his interest in replacing the building with a monumental attraction akin to the Gateway Arch.  The city is now considering three proposals to redevelop the site and should make a decision later this summer. Follow Docomomo US on Facebook to receive updates about the building.
Photograph:  May 2013
See:  Bruce Eggler. “Decision on New Orleans World Trade developer not expected until July.” The Times-Picayune (30 April 2013). As viewed 18 May 2013 at: http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/04/decision_on_world.html#incart_river