Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Indianapolis Art Deco Unrealized

In the archives we often find drawings for unrealized projects in the collections. Typically these are presentation drawings which were meant to sell the client on the architect's vision for the project. Sometimes the reasons for not building the project appear obvious--perhaps the design was too adventurous or too elaborate. But other times the presentation drawings are so beautiful and the project seems so, well, right, that it's a mystery it was never built or remodeled in that manner.

Such is the case with the Pierre &Wright, Architects drawing for a proposed remodel of 647-655 Virginia Avenue in Indianapolis' Fountain Square neighborhood. Some of you may recognize the courtyard today as the home of Bluebeard restaurant, which has earned much recognition lately as being one of the leaders in Indianapolis' burgeoning restaurant scene.


Drawn in 1935 by Leslie Ayres, who may very well have been the Don Draper creative at Pierre & Wright for his ability to stir emotion and visualize a project for the client, the board highlights the Art Deco fa├žade remodel framed by trees and the bustling activity on the street. Ayres' ability to create atmospheric and extraordinary presentation drawings was unparalleled in the firm. Edward Pierre, one of the principals, discovered his artistic ability while Ayres was still a student at Arsenal Tech High School and quickly hired him. Ayres later returned the favor by coordinating Pierre's successful nomination to the American Institute of Architects Fellowship program, one of the highest designations within the profession.

It's easy to think clients had a difficult time turning down his presentation drawings of buildings so eloquently and expertly drawn, but this particular scheme was turned down. The project appears to have ended at the presentation stage and was never given a commission number.

Image: Shopping Complex Proposed Remodel, 1935. Pierre & Wright Architectural Records, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.

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