Monday, December 15, 2008

National Maritime Union, 1954

The National Maritime Union Hall in New Orleans was Albert Ledner's first major commercial project. Up to that time, Ledner's work was solely residential. Last spring, the Regional Modernism class at Tulane had the opportunity to interview Mr. Ledner. He showed the class his pages and pages of calculations he had run in the process of designing this dynamic structure. The following is an excerpt from our conversation.

They wanted a modern building. They were in an old structure down in the French Quarter. They felt as though they wanted new digs. So they bought this property on Tchopitoulas and Washington..... We needed a roof structure to span 100 feet without any columns and an open space. We weren't concerned with having to add a second floor. And so I had experimented earlier, I think here at Tulane as a student with corrugated structures and the strength inherent in corrugating any item. Thin material in corrugation has a great deal of strength. So it was a combination of that early idea of corrugating with a circular building.

I didn't have a structural engineer at the time. I worked out the structure and we built it.... During the framing one of the city inspectors happened to be passing by and saw it and said, 'My God that roof will never hold. It's going to collapse.' Because of the very light framing. So they stopped the construction.They said we had to load it with sandbags to see if it's going to hold up. Which we did.

- Albert C. Ledner, Spring 2008

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