QUENTIN DAVIS, FAIA
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Q. Davis. (b. 1920).
Photo by Abbye A. Gorin, 1997.
(Tulane '42, Harvard '46) was an enigma, a study in contrasts, a
complex individual. Davis is an extremely talented architect with
exceptional artistic tastes. His forte was as a critic. He had the
ability to control, direct, influence, and steer a design through
its development and to convince the owner that it was of such caliber
that he should approve it. Davis never did any drawing, but he knew
how to convey his ideas to those who did the studies, sketches,
Davis' talents was his ability to move around in the right places.
He made friends easily with influential people and introduced the
firm to the editors of the architectural magazines in New York,
such as Tom Creighton of Progressive Architecture, Douglas
Haskell of Architectural Forum, and Bodil Neilsen of Interiors.
He was well known and respected by other architects, especially
those who had attended the master's program with him at Harvard
under Walter Gropius. He also had influential friends in New Orleans,
such as Edgar Stern, Lester Kabacoff, and Shepard Latter. All became
beginning, Davis aspired to be a developer. He was drawn toward
personality types who usually made poor clients, demanding extensive
work while being reluctant to pay their bills. Most of the projects
designed by the firm that were investment-oriented usually wound
up with Davis as an investor.
and I were interested in the architecture of projects. Marketing
and administration were not for us. We were willing to hire people
with those talents. We began by working together as co-project architects
or co-partners in charge. Work handled this way included our early
schools, the New Orleans Public Library, the Saigon Embassy, the
Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, the first correctional institution
we designed, and many residences.
prevailed for the first twelve years or so. The work that resulted
was creditable, often outstanding. But the method was cumbersome
and expensive. Endless arguments ensued, changes were numerous,
and often working drawings had to be redone. Draftsmen waited endlessly
for decisions. As a result, we decided to divide the projects among
the partners, giving responsibility to one partner in charge, the
others participating as designer or critic.
responsible for the first design recognition of the firm. In 1951,
his self-designed home in the Lake Vista section of the city was
awarded a Regional AIA Award for Excellence in Design. He later
built another and larger home for himself that also gained honors