Strange Obsession

A few weeks ago I went on a road trip to Louisiana in search of more material. Admittedly, New Orleans isn’t New Orleans if your memory isn’t a slight bit hazy when you get back. But all that being said, a singular truth emerged from my efforts: French Quarter buildings have perfect detailing.

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French Quarter, New Orleans, LA

I guess you could call it vernacular architecture, but whether it was designed by an architect or not, anyone who designs buildings needs to be brought down on a bus. Marched to the French Quarter. And dunked into the brick, iron, and lead paint until they can’t smell the alcohol or see the vomit on the street. In the interest of brevity, I’m just going to talk about a few things, but I can’t see anything about the building above that was done poorly.

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One of the most important aspects of a traditional building is depth. Not only is it practical–deeper window wells help protect windows from the rain and sun–it also allows for the effective layering of trim details. Furthermore, depth shows that this isn’t some brick veneer covering up a little miss piggy. It’s the real deal. Just like in fashion: Texture, color, and fit make the difference. I don’t like shallow openings or shallow people–you shouldn’t either.

Taking it a bit further–check out the way the shutters fold on top of each other–made possible by custom forged hinges. The bars in front of transom windows at the top of the door further accentuate the depth of the opening, and add a practical layer of protection. The door casing is made of a clean and simple beaded stop… It’s all too much to describe. This building meets all ten cannons of classical design without the slightest trace of Doric columns or dentils. Completely wonderful.

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