Modern in New Orleans


So I recently got a new bike and have since become addicted to just cruising around New Orleans. Despite its undeniably dodgy characteristics (i.e. murder), this really is a gorgeous city. Perfect for bicycle ridin’, picture takin’, and other activities that involve a dropped “g.” As you could probably guess, residential architecture here is steeped in history – both real and fake – but hidden away in the many neighborhoods are some contemporary gems – you just have to keep your eyes open, and it helps if you know where to look.

The above house was designed by local boy Byron Mouton, founder of Bild Design, and was featured in the October/Noverment 2004 issue of Dwell Magazine in their “modern across America” article. In all his residential projects, Mouton investigates the traditional New Orleans vernacular, and how it can be updated and reconfigured into a more contemporary design. The “bar and tower,” for example, find their origins in the New Orleans Camelback house – a design that was created to meet the needs of a family, while still accommodating zoning laws.

This house was designed by Stephen Jacobs, formerly a professor at the Tulane University School of Architecture. Jacob’s house also recalls local architecture – notice the roofline – but where traditional houses open themselves to the street, this house closes itself. In the front, south-facing facade, the corrugated metal is punctured only by a row of kitchen windows. The rear of the house, however, is composed of a three story, all steel and glass wall, illuminating the entire interior of the residence. With its triple height space, loft-like open plan, and complete lack of interior doors, natural light reaches almost every corner of the interior.

I know nothing about this house, and except for the photographed corner, it has few redeeming qualities (at least from the exterior) Nonetheless, it’s an effort to breathe new life into an over hundred-year-old neighborhood.

I’m hoping this will be a regular feature on the website. I’m also hoping to get a better camera soon. Regardless of photo quality, as long as my bike chain stays on, I’ll continue my search and half-assed documentation of the Modern in New Orleans.

&#183 More Posts on Modernism and contemporary architecture in New Orleans [Life Without Buildings]

8 Replies to “Modern in New Orleans”

  1. Nice, James. Steve Jacobs was a professor when I was there…and Byron graduated just a year or so ahead of me.

    I remember a wacky modern house in the Garden District, designed by a Spanish architect, that was under construction when I left. Maybe around State Street(?). Never got to see it complete.

    Good luck with your bike rides.

  2. hmmm…state street is uptown, not garden district. I guess I’ll have to scour both areas this weekend.

    oh, and by the way, Byron Mouton is also currently teaching at the Tulane University School of Architecture and leads the school’s Vienna-Prague-Brussels trip every summer.

  3. Around Conery St. and Camp in the Garden District is a modern house done by Curtis and Davis.

    Of course, it’s modern modern, as in, built in the 1960’s, which probably gets even less play than the modern you are talking about here. It’s a shame the Rivergate is long gone, too…

  4. Awesome!!! That post ruled. Keep that up. More New documented New Orleans bike adventures!

  5. firstly, I agree that we need more documented new orleans bike adventures! amen al!
    secondly, I think that last house you had pictured had a number of other redeeming qualities which you failed to show; my favorite being that the front gate in to the garden is made of glass and aluminum.

  6. What about that big blue house with the G-series Mercedes in the lower garden dist? Its waaaay pomo.
    (does that count?)

  7. I just have to say that my husband, Richard Woodcock, provided all the steel work and welding for the Steve Jacobs house.

    I was always fascinated with the back yard–it was a bit of a mess at the time, but considering that massive glass back wall, I’ll bet Jacobs has done something awesome with it. If you ever happen to ride your bike through that back yard, please post a pic :)

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