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”