Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Edward Pierre's Designs

Much of the Pierre and Wright Architectural Records Collection has recently come back from being scanned into our Digital Media Repository. For unprecedented access to a large number of images from this collection, go to

Digitization of any collection requires quite a lot of sorting to determine which images are to be scanned, and then re-integration of the collection once the scanning process is complete. We are currently re-boxing the collection and I discovered this very small photostat of a drawing for the Chevrolet Sales and Service building in Kokomo, Indiana, designed by Edward Pierre in the 1950s or early 1960s.

Pierre, who began his architectural career designing Art Nouveau and Art Deco inspired buildings in the early 20th century, embraced Modernist designs as they evolved. It is evident he wasn't rigid in his design sense (such as someone like Louis Sullivan), but you can, however, see similarities in his design principles that are translated through the changing architecture of his time.

This is evident in his work for two car-related buildings he designed. The first, the Rose Tire Company building from 1930, has a wide band of windows, bays for cars, a designated office area, and an ornamental sign on top of the building. The second building, the Chevrolet building, ca. 1950s, has all of the same elements except that the area for cars is inside, behind the wide band of windows. The design has been stripped of the ornamentation seen in the 1930 design, most noticeably the sign on top of the building.

Of course, these are all standard elements of a car business. In the U.S., we have certainly seen plenty of car dealerships reminiscent of the Chevrolet building. What makes it interesting is how Pierre balanced the proportions similarly from one design period to another. You might think it would be impossible to link the two very different designs to the same architect but, seeing the two drawings side-by-side it becomes, if not obvious, at least believable it is the same designer.
I've been unable to locate the buildings today, or determine if the buildings were built. Does anyone know if either are standing?
Edward D. Pierre, Chevrolet Sales and Service Building, Kokomo, Ind., ca. 1950s, perspective view.
Pierre and Wright, Rose Tire Building, Indianapolis, Ind., 1930, perspective view.

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