Links Without Buildings – 10 October

[image via V&A]

Preserving The Modernist Schools of New Orleans

[Thomy Lafon School, Curtis and Davis, architects; Frank Lotz Miller, photographer; Tulane Libraries, Special Collections, Southeastern Architectural Archives. Via Regional Modernism]

Architecturally, New Orleans is perhaps best known for its Creole cottages, shotgun houses, and the mixed-influences of the French Quarter. But there is a small yet important concentration of Regional Modernism in the Big Easy and local Modernists are doing their damnedest to preserve it. Let’s just hope its not too late. Currently facing the biggest threat are 30 area schools built during the 50s — 29 of which are slated for demolition or land-banking. Take for example, the Thomy Lafon Elementary School, pictured above. While similar facilities have been appropriated and reused for civic purposes, usually to the great benefit of the neighborhood, the New Orleans School Facilities Master Plan proposes no alternative use for this building. It’s simply scheduled for closure and eventual demolition. We’ve mentioned this before on Life Without Buildings, but as the issue comes to a head, the importance of preserving Modernism in New Orleans cannot be stressed enough — especially now that New Orleans is welcoming a new generation of Regional Modernists.

There are fewer than 30 days left to make your opinions heard and join a growing chorus in support of these buildings. Comments can be sent to masterplan@rsdla.net. Docomomo, the Tulane School of Architecture, and the AIA are working together save these buildings, so take a minute, find your inner modernist (we’re guessing you really won’t have to look far) and drop an email to the city. To learn more, a fantastic place to start is Regional Modernism: The New Orleans Archive, a blog dedicated to the documentation and preservation of Modernism in New Orleans. Continue reading “Preserving The Modernist Schools of New Orleans”

"Ornament is a Crime." (as is photography, apparently)

Adolf Loos’ Villa Moller. If you should ever visit this icon of modernism, whatever you do, don’t take a picture! See that little guard booth on the right? The sole purpose of that lone protector is to prevent people from taking photos of the house. (As I learned soon after snapping these) However, the guard was very apologetic and assured us that there were many books with great pictures of the building.

We ventured out into the suburbs of Vienna to find this place, and unfortunately didn’t plan ahead enough to schedule some sort of interior tour…actually, i’m not even sure thats possible for single visitors. Nonetheless, the house was very impressive. Much more beautiful in person that in textbook photos. I’ve always loved what Loos does with his interiors, but I’ve never quite been sold on the complete abandonment of exterior ornament. Until now. To drastically oversimplify, the Moller House just works. It’s beatiful, serene, balanced… Looking at the building, I felt like Loos exploited my subconscious understanding of beauty and harmony.

As we walked through the neighborhood, it was impossible not to notice the number of Loos-alikes scattered amongst the traditional viennese houses. Most were awful, and looked like they might’ve been built in the 70’s or 80’s, but it was nice to see how one architect and one building can make such an impact, especially in a city as conservative as vienna. So even though these moderish-mishaps were less appealing, they were nonethess encouraging.