Wednesday, September 21, 2011

$1500 Tangipahoa House

In the late 1950s, New Orleans architects Mary and John Mykolyk designed a family retreat on the Tangipahoa River, north of Lake Pontchartrain. LIFE photographer Nina Leen (1909-1995) visited the young family in 1959, producing a series of playful and contemplative images, some of which were incorporated into a feature article titled "Second Homes for Family Vacations" (3 August 1959).*

The raised structure -- accessible via collapsible stairs -- was roofed with corrugated plastic panels and protected from flood-time driftwood by tension wires at the gable ends. The expansive roof was designed to shield the walls from heavy rains, and was surrounded by a deck which could be used as a fishing perch.

See some of Leen's photographs at GettyImages.

*Available in the Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Orleans Architect, Mary Mykolyk

Ismay Mary Mykolyk († 1985) was a New Orleans modernist architect. Born a British citizen in East Africa, Mykolyk obtained her architecture degree at the University of Manitoba, Canada in the 1940s.

In the 1950s, she began working for Curtis & Davis & Associated Architects & Engineers. She served as chief architect on the firm's Tulane University Student Center, the Guste Housing Project, the Algiers Louisiana Power & Light Building, & the US Embassy in Saigon, Vietnam.

By 1965, Mykolyk established her own firm, collaborating with other New Orleans modernists on such projects as Loyola University's Law School and Science Complex, as well as independently designing private residences, including the Bert Levey Residence on the Tchefuncta River.

To learn more, see the Beverly Willis Dynamic National Archive or read "Ismay Mary Mykolyk dies; crafted New Orleans architecture." The Times-Picayune 20 September 1985, A-26.

Image above: Frank Lotz Miller. Mary Mykolyk. [Detail of photographer's proof]. 1961. © Curtis & Davis Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Monday, September 12, 2011

War of the Trees

This blog has previously addressed New Orleans' growing parking concerns and the development of private motor stations after the invention of the automobile.

In the winter of 1920, the city's Parking Commission provoked public outcry when it began to fell live oak, sycamore and elm trees along Esplanade Avenue between Liberty (now Treme) Street and North Claiborne Avenue. With the support of architect and Commissioner of Public Property Sam Stone, Jr. (1869-1933) and under the authority of Parking Commission President W.H. Douglas, Superintendent E.A. Farley coordinated the tree removal. Esplanade Avenue residents voiced their outrage, especially when Douglas admitted that the railway company was financing the activity. Dentist George Bernard Crozat, who lived at 1222, expressed to The Times-Picayune:

'It would appear as if some commission or other is constantly trying to wipe out every vestige of historic interest in the Vieux Carre* . . . It is an inexcusable outrage to cut down the beautiful trees of our avenue. Look at them! They tell us they are dead. Their hearts are as sturdy as our own. See the splendid foliage which will never wave again. We must save what remains at all costs.'

Residents claimed that some of the avenue's trees had been planted by Jean-Baptiste LeMoyne, Sieur de Bienville (1680-1767), and "threatened to shoot if certain trees were destroyed."

Read more in The Times-Picayune 6 February 1902, p. 2.

*Another earlier post addressed changing notions of the Vieux Carre. See "The Heart of the French Quarter." Architecture Research 23 June 2009.

Image above: Copy print from glass plate negative. George F. Mugnier (1855-1936). Esplanade Avenue from St. Claude Street. n.d. [Detail]. Miscellaneous Photographs Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

NEW: The Autotronic Elevator

New Orleans was one of the first cities to boast an Otis Autotronic Elevator.(1) When Benson & Riehl's California Company Building (1111 Tulane Avenue) opened in October 1950, it featured four of the new attendant-less elevators. Not only were they designed to save staffing costs, but the elevators were choreographed so that when one ascended from the first floor, an elevator on the top floor would simultaneously descend to replace it.

The California Company Building inaugurated a post-war commercial office building boom that had followed a two-decade dormancy. Owned by General Enterprises, Inc., the building also included air conditioning, glare-resistant glass, automatic telephone systems, and a two-story-high mechanical plant "penthouse."

(1)The first new office to feature the self-service elevators was the Atlantic Refining Company in Dallas, TX, which opened a few months before the NOLA California Company Building.

Image above: Otis Autotronic--Without Attendant--Elevator, 1950. In The First One Hundred Years: Otis Elevator Company. New York: Otis Elevator Company, 1953. Available in the Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

CFP: Nationalism & The City

CRASSH Conference, Cambridge, United Kingdom - February 2012

Applicants are encouraged to engage with the existing theoretical literature on nations, nationalism and the city. Suggested focal points include: urbanization/modernization and the conditions of nationalism’s emergence; Urban intellectual networks and the global diffusion of nationalism; Cities as battle-space and/or as sites for mobilization; National unity and the urban/rural ‘divide’; the city as metaphor for nation; Globalizing cities, ‘post-nationalism’, and notions of urban reclamation; Cosmopolitanism, nationalism, and layers of belonging; Multiculturalism, heterogeneity and the urban; and disintegration, dystopia and ‘spaces of alterity’.

A special emphasis will be placed on integrating the insights of those focused on dynamics in the city and those addressing the broader phenomenon of nationalism, to enliven debates on space, identity, and politics and to illuminate important convergences and contradictions, conjunctures and disjunctures.

The task for researchers is as follows: how are we to conceptualize the role of cities/urban environments in the origins/spread/perpetuation/undermining of nations and nationalism?

For guidelines & additional information, see: