New Orleans dispatch

ARCHITECTURE AND PRESERVATION NEWS for the Los Angeles Conservancy Modern Committee (ModCom) and other Mid Century Modern, Googie, International, Art Deco, 20th Century design

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New Orleans dispatch

Postby Nathan » Mon Oct 31, 2005 4:24 pm


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how's tu casa?

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Postby Nathan » Mon Oct 31, 2005 6:36 pm


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Wow!

Postby khummer » Tue Nov 01, 2005 3:05 pm


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Postby Lynxwiler » Wed Nov 02, 2005 2:59 pm

Last edited by Lynxwiler on Mon Nov 07, 2005 2:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby nichols » Mon Nov 07, 2005 11:22 am


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Postby Nathan » Mon Nov 07, 2005 10:03 pm

H'yall -- I have to admit, I find it unnervingly amusing that there's a site called "katrinadestruction.com." As is true with the whole situation, if you don't laugh you'll cry, so keep laughing.

That said, there's a middle ground: blistering anger. The legacy of Huey Long socialism allowed this mess to get as bad as it did. A bunch of Yankee Feds made it all the worse. And while everyone is accountable, no-one is accountable. Grrrrreat!

I trust everyone's seen the Romero zombie pix -- cf. the first ten minutes of his 1985 "Day of the Dead" & that'll give you some idea of what NO has become. If we were allowed to talk politics on this site, there'd be no stopping me.

Suffice it to say, the preservation community in New Orleans--recently emergent, believe it or not--is going to face some unique challenges in the next couple of years. Consider: in terms of pure jurisprudence and common law, what goes on here will, according to the forthcoming actions and battles, set immutable precedents for the rest of this, our 21st century. Unless New Orleans is watched very, very closely by the preservation community, it WILL be lost--that, in and of itself, will set a terrible example for the next few generations: "They rebuilt NO as crap, why can't we?"

Everyone's main worry is this: the mob could never get ahold of New Orleans--it was too corrupt, too insular. And that's how we liked it. But now the union thugs and suits are squeezing a ripe tomato. Everyone will suffer and the the city is too weak to defend itself. It's like f-ing Los Angeles!

Of course the thugs we have here -- LAUSD, Legacy Partners, et al. -- are small fry compared to the carrion-devouring cultural terrorists sharpening their whetters with an eye toward New Orleans. Instructive for our little town, perhaps, because after the next quake, we could be paved over with Wal-Marts and waste dumps without the legal ability to say word one, as will likely happen to our Louisiana brethren.

Principiis obsta, finem respice --

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Postby SDR » Tue Nov 08, 2005 8:49 pm

According to a news report tonight on the Lehrer News Hour [*watch PBS*] a record amount of refuse must be hauled away from the Katrina Zone: refrigerators are emptied of rotten food and liquid refrigerant, then crushed for recycling; 58,000 vehicles (?) are ruined; toxics in some of the drying sludge are becoming airborne; etc etc.

What a challenge -- to say nothing of the threat of abuse of absent/relocated property-owners, as part of the political/economic/commercial/real estate threat(s) alluded to (?) above. The rebirth of (parts of) New Orleans as a self-referential theme park seems almost inevitable; say it isn't so, Nathan !

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Postby Lynxwiler » Thu Dec 29, 2005 5:36 pm

Last edited by Lynxwiler on Tue Aug 28, 2007 11:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Lynxwiler » Fri Jan 27, 2006 10:30 am

edit
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Postby nichols » Fri Jan 27, 2006 11:49 am

What's up with that "Back to the Future II" movie theater???

Image

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Postby Lynxwiler » Mon Jan 30, 2006 12:13 pm

I did a little search and found out that the Sharkheads store in Biloxi was basically a souvenir stand. Seems their shell collection was whisked out to sea. Memorable facade though.

www.sharkheads.com

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Postby Lynxwiler » Wed Oct 04, 2006 1:45 am

Just heard a rumor that New Orlean's Rock n Bowl is closed for good. It's not due to Katrina apparently, but a rental dispute. Their website is still up and running so maybe the wake was cut short by a resurrection.

http://www.rockandbowl.com/photogallery ... llery.html


www.nola.com

No wreckin' ball for Rock 'n' Bowl
But sale of shopping center puts future of music landmark in doubt

Friday, September 15, 2006
By Keith Spera

The home of the Mid-City Lanes Rock 'n' Bowl is for sale, and the future of one of New Orleans' signature music venues may lie with the eventual buyer.


John Blancher took over the crumbling, 1940s-era bowling alley in a shopping center at the northeast corner of Tulane and South Carrollton avenues in the fall of 1988. Within two years, he had introduced live music -- mostly homegrown south Louisiana acts -- to the space.

Soon, Rock 'n' Bowl was well on its way to earning its "World Famous" designation, with dancers filling the floor each Thursday for Zydeco Night and overflow crowds turning up during Jazzfest.

Hurricane Katrina's levee failures filled the building's first floor with 7 feet of water, devastating Thrift City, a grocery store, the Bangkok Cuisine restaurant and other tenants. The second-story Rock 'n' Bowl remained dry, and is the only business in the building to reopen since Katrina.

The building's current owners, the Salmen family's Mid-City Center LLC, enlisted Corporate Realty to sell the property. It includes 110,000 square feet of land and 75,000 square feet of "improvements," or indoor space.

Corporate Realty did not set a sale price, instead soliciting bids through Aug. 29. Nine bids came in, mostly from local entities, during what Corporate Realty's Hayden Wren described as "spirited" bidding.

"We had a tremendous amount of interest in the property," Wren said. "I still get calls every day."

He declined to specify the dollar amount of bids, which reportedly ranged across the low seven figures. The winning bidder will likely be chosen within two weeks. Negotiating and closing the deal will require another two months or so.

"We won't necessarily take the highest bid," Wren said. "We'll take the one with the best chance of closing, balanced by economic considerations."

The purchaser's future plans for the property may or may not include Rock 'n' Bowl. Proposals range "across the board, from fixing up the space and leasing it to redeveloping the site," Wren said. "Nobody has any plans that I'm aware of to redevelop the whole property."

If the buyer did want to tear down the entire building, it wouldn't be for nine years, unless a separate deal is cut with Blancher. Rock 'n' Bowl's current lease runs to 2010; Blancher has an option for five additional years, effectively extending his lease through May 31, 2015.

"Rock 'n' Bowl has a lease that will be honored," Wren said. "Whoever acquires the property will be subject to that lease. Speaking philosophically, if somebody makes an offer to acquire (Rock 'n' Bowl's lease), that's between the new buyer and John."

Blancher, who did not make an offer on the property, said at least two bidders have expressed to him an interest in ensuring that Rock 'n' Bowl remains open. That, Blancher said, is his desire.

"I'm not interested in being bought out," Blancher said. "It would take more than a little bit of money to get me to walk away. It's been a good business, and family ties are worked into it."

The trust division of Capital One manages the property for Mid-City Center LLC, after acquiring the former property manager, Hibernia National Bank. The relationship between Blancher and Hibernia's trust officers was occasionally rocky. After a dispute in the spring of 2005, Blancher closed the downstairs Bowl Me Under annex with a mock jazz funeral.

"I'm hoping that (the new buyer) is not antagonistic, but somebody that wants to work with me," Blancher said. "You never can tell what's in store. They could send in a ton of lawyers and try to make my life miserable and run me out, but I would think that would not make good sense.

"If they can't build a Walgreens on the corner of Claiborne and Carrollton, how are they going to knock down Rock 'n' Bowl and build something else? I think there'd be a lot of opposition."

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Postby Lynxwiler » Tue Apr 17, 2007 4:18 pm

On a recent visit to New Orleans I found one bright spot in an otherwise sad landscape of broken signage: The Civic.

This wonderful and large baked-enamel, neon sign has been restored and now advertises the Civic lofts. While the Civic Auditorium is awaiting its fate, the former offices fronting Baronne Street have been converted into, guess what, loft housing!

http://civiclofts.com/index.html

They look pretty good and I hope more converted housing moves into the very classy and very empty commercial buildings outside of the French Quarter. I don't know what the interest is like since Katrina scared half the population away, but I'll cross my fingers and hope for the best on this one.

ImageImage

There's only neon on one side of the sign, as it was originally constructed.

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Postby Lynxwiler » Tue Apr 17, 2007 4:24 pm

And Joe Gambino's Bakery is still open too! In case you're driving through Metairie, they've got incredible cookies and an absolutely enormous porcelain enamel, neon cake sign with lit candles flickering in yellow and red. http://gambinos.info/index.html

Image
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4821 Veterans Boulevard, Metairie, LA

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Postby Lynxwiler » Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:33 pm

And a few more:

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Postby Lynxwiler » Tue Aug 28, 2007 11:13 am

From nola.com
Architectural soul of the city at stake

By Doug MacCash
Staff writer

"After the storm, the first thing people asked was, 'How's your house?'¤" recalled Tulane University architecture professor John P. Klingman of those nail-biting days almost two years ago, when storm and flood seemed to have destroyed or scarred every structure in New Orleans.

"My house was OK," he said. "But I realized 'How's your house?' was the wrong question. The question was about my city."

Two years later, the question, "How's your city?" is still tough to answer. Architecturally speaking, New Orleans is in flux. The past is not quite over, the present is contentious and the future has not quite begun. As the Neville Brothers might have sung it -- if the Neville Brothers still sang in these parts -- New Orleans architecture is sitting here in limbo, waiting for the tide to turn.

True, most of the city's best-loved landmarks, both historical, such as the St. Louis Cathedral, and contemporary, such as the Louisiana Superdome and the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, stand ready to have their pictures snapped by tourists, as they did before Hurricane Katrina.

The colorful Creole townhouses of the French Quarter are still pressed charmingly cheek to cheek. Most Garden District mansions purse their lips as proudly as they did before the storm. Gilded-era St. Charles Avenue mansions patiently await the return of streetcar-riding admirers.

Preservation Resource Center Director Patricia Gay reports that of the 1,200 buildings in the historic Lower Garden District, only 27 were lost because of the storm. Unlike San Francisco after the earthquake or Chicago after the fire, New Orleans retains much of her long-relied-upon architectural appeal two years after Katrina.

But Klingman, like most observers, points out that painful architectural losses took place -- and continue to take place -- on a grand scale, mostly in less well-known stretches of the city where tour buses rarely strayed before the failed levees transformed them into such compelling wastelands.

Innumerable homes and whole streets, blocks and neighborhoods of what Klingman calls "everyday architecture" were ruined. The city estimates 105,000 buildings were severely damaged by storm and flood, representing a $14 billion residential loss.

"We all knew they were great neighborhoods," Klingman said, "but other people had no idea. They'd never heard of Gentilly or the Lower 9th Ward."

"We've lost a good deal of our 20th century city," said John Magill, a historian with The Historic New Orleans Collection. "What we have truly lost is our slab city. It's been decimated, and it's hard for that to come back."

Magill understands the emotional attachment many New Orleanians felt for the post-World War suburban-style homes, many built with their concrete slab bellies pressed against land recently reclaimed from Lake Pontchartrain and its lowlands.

These neighborhoods were built at a time "when we were out looking for the American Dream, with carports, a TV room and enough bathrooms," he said, and even if the slab homes -- what one architect called "one-story brick-veneer dreams" -- were more or less indistinguishable from developer-driven clones found from coast to coast, they meant a great deal to the people who lived in them.

The only thing that set this city's post-war neighborhoods apart was the lake looming on the other side of the levees and seawalls. Eisenhower-era Lakeview developers courted irony when they described the low-lying landscaping of Canal Boulevard as "sunken gardens."

"There are so many houses lost. Nobody can comprehend what's gone," Magill said.

Geographer Richard Campanella, associate director of the Center for Bioenvironmental Research at Tulane University, does his best to comprehend such things. Long before Katrina, Campanella busied himself producing maps that plot the historical spread of the city -- and the floods that long kept that spread in check. His conclusions are logical: Generally speaking, the higher the ground, the older and more architecturally precious the house.

Creole, Spanish Colonial, Greek Revival and Italianate styles dominate the highest ground closest to the river and along the high ridges that the river left behind, Campanella said. Victorian shotguns, early 20th century bungalows, Spanish Revival villas from the roaring '20s, and between-the-wars English cottages "straddle sea level." Finally, he said, "ubiquitous ranch houses, split levels, and the classic modern American suburban house are 3 to 12 feet below sea level."

"You don't need a topographic map to determine elevation in New Orleans, if you have a good architectural eye," he said.

Campanella believes that at the two-year mark, the struggle to preserve Crescent City architecture is most pitched not in the historic sliver by the river or in the ghostly post-war neighborhoods that bore the brunt of the flood, but in what he calls "the back of town": intermediate zones in Gentilly, Treme, Central City and Broadmoor, below the city's wealthier neighborhoods, where the working-class houses were old but not ancient, damaged but not devastated.

"The shotguns and cottages in the back of town are typical of New Orleans and rare throughout the rest of the nation," he said. "You're not going to find them in Long Beach and Denver."

Long before Katrina and the failed leveesÂ￾, New Orleans' architectural fabric was already showing signs of wear. Termites, leaking roofs, cat's claw vines and the pull of poverty had dragged a large percentage of the city's housing stock to the brink of the architectural abyss.

Reed Kroloff, the former director of the Tulane School of Architecture who accepted the directorship of Cranbrook Academy of Art in May and last week left wilted New Orleans for the crisper climes of lower Michigan, estimates that 30,000 properties were already in jeopardy to one degree or another before Katrina.

Now bureaucracy can be added to the list of dangers. The city has during the past several months compiled lists of structures so badly damaged or dilapidated that they are in need of architectural euthanasia.

The trouble is, according to ad hoc architectural activists Karen Gadbois and Laureen Lentz, the list is prone to significant error. Of the 1,630 structures listed as imminent health threats by the city, "one-third are wrong, a third need re-evaluation and a third need to go," said Lentz, who advocates the removal of some buildings as strongly as the salvation of others. The end has come for 236 properties already. Gadbois and Lentz's Web site, www.squanderedheritage.com, catalogs threatened homes.

On a steamy morning last week, the pair pointed to a vintage four-bay Victorian house on a tree-lined section of what Campanella might call the back of town, just off the Esplanade Ridge.

The clapboards were even and intact, the seal-tab roof smooth, the chimneys erect, the shutters secure and the gingerbread in place. Judging by the flood line on adjacent buildings, water may have barely reached the floorboards of the old beauty, but no higher. Yet, Gadbois and Lentz said, the home appeared for a time on the city's list of houses slated for demolition, only to disappear later, leaving them relieved but disquieted.

"We're definitely in a crisis," Lentz said of the complex citywide situation. "We're over our heads and can't manage it."

Considering the already staggering destruction, Lentz said, "We don't want to lose one more by mistake."

While it would seem preposterousÂ￾ to accidentally destroy sound, irreplaceable architecture in the post-Katrina environment, to many it is even worse to do so on purpose.

For several architects, the demolition of the space-age St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church in Gentilly in June qualifies as an unnecessary loss of an irreplaceable icon.

The church was demolished to make room for Holy Cross School, which is relocating from its historic campus in the Lower 9th Ward.

There were pressing reasons for the relocation, and the struggling, badly flooded neighborhood welcomed the refugee school. Also, the church's strange, sprawling mid-20th-century design by Curtis and Davis apparently did not match the school's early-21st-century vision. Nonetheless, the demolition became a cautionary post-Katrina fable among architects and preservationists.


"There was absolutely no reason to destroy it," said Kroloff, adding that the demise of the 1962 structure resulted from a combination of "irrational fears and rash planning."

Architect Allen Eskew agreed, adding as a factor in the decision a long-held prejudice in New Orleans against modernism. Similar eye-catching modernist buildings are sprinkled across New Orleans, Eskew said. "But we have this horrible, horrible disease in this city, that if it's not antebellum, it has no value."

The heroically art deco Charity Hospital, the playfully futuristic Plaza Towers (the 44-story skyscraper once appraised at a mere $100,000), the Bauhaus-like City Hall, and the robustly built Lafitte public housing complex all have been nominated as wrecking ball candidates.

In their place are proposed a number of grand visions for a brighter and bolder post-Katrina New Orleans, most of them still on paper.

In the months after Katrina, city planning guru Andres Duany strutted from one rebuilding charrette to another, preaching the doctrine of New Urbanism, with its high-density, walkable lifestyle.

Tulane architecture students and other young visionaries designed what they called URBANbuilt homes, offering adventuresome builders contemporary alternatives to phony historic styles.

Movie star and architecture buff Brad Pitt waved the flag for ecologically sensitive, energy-efficient construction, such as Global Green USA's nascent Holy Cross affordable housing development.

And a variety of pundits, including Kroloff, who was once part of the city's Bring New Orleans Back Commission, called for a taller New Orleans, erected on a smaller, dryer footprint.

Yet, at the two-year mark, those progressive possibilities have barely gotten a toe-hold in K-Ville.

Duany's name is linked to Renaissance Town Center, a quaint 80-acre shopping plaza in the eastern New Orleans flood zone. Trucked-in prefab houses are being assembled in Lakeview, where confidence in the re-engineered pump and levee protection, to be complete in 2011, seems to be growing.

A swooping highway ramp is being built on Interstate 10 in Metairie that will better funnel suburban sprawl to the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Kroloff considers flight to bedroom communities across the Causeway to be one of the greatest threats to the future of New Orleans.

And some preservationists protest taller, denser San Francisco-esque rebuilding, arguing that such buildings would literally and figuratively overshadow low-rise neighborhoods.

As New Orleans architect Peter Trapolin put it: "We want high density, on the high ground -- but not in my neighborhood."

A few high-rise hives,Â￾ however, seem destined to find their place in the sun. Trapolin and Foil/Wyatt Architects of Jackson, Miss., found a neighborhood with no height restrictions to stake out their 25-story, $55 million Tracage condominiums in the Warehouse District, scheduled for completion in 2009.

But if the high ground won't soon be crowded shoulder to shoulder with new high-density residential construction, it could be studded with a few isolated, eye-catching public buildings, as magnetic to tourists as the Creole landmarks in the Vieux Carre.

Visible someday from a Tracage condo, the National World War II Museum plans a $300 million expansion by Voorsanger Mathes, LLC, including an immense re-engineered, more-weather-resistant-than-originally-planned awning that will shield the pilgrims trekking to the Greatest Generation landmark. The expansion is due for completion by 2014.

Those projects were in the hopper before Katrina. But, despite rising construction costs, diminished population and general uncertainty, new post-storm proposals have come down the pike, including striking international designs that some feel will finally drag New Orleans into a new era. Other onlookers fear they may be nothing more than a post-Katrina distraction. Or worse, that they could sully the unique flavor of the city.

In the Central Business District, uberdeveloper and reality television star and Donald Trump plans a $400 million, 68-story Trump International Hotel and Tower, which would be the city's tallest. It's designed by Adache Group Architects in Pensacola, Fla., and includes 622 condominium units.

Mexican rising star Enrique Norten headlines a team of planners who may eventually convert New Orleans' sadly dilapidated industrial riverfront into a serpentine urban park, studded with futuristic structures. The as-yet-unfinanced $1 billion Reinventing the Crescent project, as it's known, is envisioned for completion in 2018.

Los Angeles architect Thom Mayne, winner of the Pritzker Prize, architecture's Oscar, has conceived a $100 million National Jazz Center performance hall that he envisions on Loyola Avenue in the next five years. Mayne's earlier post-K dream of a blocks-long modernist municipal mall has withered on the vine, leaving him a bit bewildered and bitter.

"I have to tell you, the outsiders are more interested in your town than the insiders -- not counting certain people," Mayne said.

Mayne lays the blame for the demise of his park project squarely on a lack of city leadership.

"No one wants to pick up the ball and run with it," he said. "I don't know how long before the whole city atrophies."

He's not alone in his impatience. Eskew, who has a hand in Mayne's National Jazz Center project and the Reinventing the Crescent riverfront redevelopment, also is worried that the time for decisive government action is slipping away.

"We have a city of global significance," he said. "We've had it destroyed by a federal flood. The perpetrator of that flood has not stepped forward and taken responsibility. What they've done is put a city of global significance at risk."

Like many local architects, Eskew fearsÂ￾ that New Orleans' emergency mindset may lead to quick-and-dirty design and construction. Old schools and other neighborhood institutions, which are "built like fortresses," could be replaced by "cheap replicate buildings." He worries that body-snatcher imitations of historic structures might edge out contemporary design.

Indeed, the first major French Quarter construction to be completed since the storm is the far-from-cheap $4 million expansion of The Historic New Orleans Collection by Davis Jahncke. The quality building is nevertheless a painstakingly authentic replica of an 1850s hotel -- perhaps understandable given that it's a French Quarter history museum.

Still, Eskew echoes some of his colleagues when he warns against slavish and nostalgic devotion to the past as New Orleans moves forward.

"As we repair the city, we need to repair with integrity," Eskew said, "and as we build, we need to do it in its own time with authenticity. .¤.¤. The danger is, we may be losing that window with an absence of effective leadership.

"The loss in our community has been profound," he said, "New Orleans will certainly survive. But it will be a different New Orleans."

Doug MacCash can be reached at dmaccash@timespicayune.com or (504) 826-3481.

Staff writer Michelle Krupa contributed to this report.

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Postby Nathan » Tue Aug 28, 2007 11:45 am

Remember Rep. William Jefferson? Whose district includes New Orleans? Recently indicted for racketeering, soliciting bribes, wire fraud, money-laundering, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act? He's actually one of the less corrupt politicians down there.

Some blankety-blanks are going to make a lot of money tearing down perfectly good New Orleans and replacing it with Disneyland New Orleans. Nothing against Disneyland, but we already have New Orleans in Disneyland.

Thanks for the post, Lynxwiler!

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