New Orleans’ 1934 Shushan Airport

shushan-airport-terminal

With the completion of the Shushan Airport, New Orleans takes its place among the great air transportation centers of the world. (Description of the buildings at Shushan Airport, Board of Levee Commissioners of the Orleans Levee District, 1934)

Architects Weiss, Dreyfous, and Seiferth designed the modern airport buildings to complement the plan of the airport itself–constructed on “reclaimed” land from the shoreline of Lake Pontchatrain.

The airport buildings are of fire-resistive construction, being built entirely of concrete, steel, and tile.  The exterior treatment is expressed in a light tan artificial stone with fine exposed aggregates of crushed marble and rock.  The style is a free interpretation of modern tendencies, in keeping with the spirit of aviation and the airport itself, marking as it does the latest developments in port facilities. (Description of the buildings at Shushan Airport)

Aluminum was utilized both exterior and interior of the terminal building, for decorative as well as safety features, such as around the observation decks and loggias.  Development of aviation was represented in the sculptural designs.  The “outstanding feature” was said to be the control tower (partially visible in the photo below).

placed on the field side of the building, at the apex of the oblique taxiway angle, and is set well forward of the building proper so as to offer an unobstructed view of the field and of the full length of both taxiways.  The control room forms the crowning element of the tower, being constructed entirely of glass set in an aluminum framework.  The glass employed is a special heat resisting product, bluish green in color, which insulates this room again exterior heat and softens the excessive glare. (Description of the buildings at Shushan Airport)

Over the main entrance doorway is a great symbolic figure, representing the materialization of man’s dream of himself as a flying mechanism.

Throughout the building, while the depiction of flight is most prevalent, there are representations of earlier forms of transportation.  The Works Progress Administration would subsequently add to the beauty of the airport with murals, fountains, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool, as well as landscaping.

Shushan was renamed New Orleans Airport in 1939.  Following the conviction and imprisonment of Shushan for embezzlement and fraud, the polity determined to remove any references to him from the airport.  The victim of a horrendous 1960’s era “renovation” in which the murals were covered over and panels covered the Art Deco artwork,  the terminal suffered further indignity as a result of Hurricane Katrina.  It recently reopened following a restoration to its former glory…minus the name Shushan of course.

Lakefront Airport, as it is now known, is a full-service airport.

 

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This entry was posted in Art Deco architecture, Louisiana, Works Progress Administration and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to New Orleans’ 1934 Shushan Airport

  1. socialbridge says:

    What an unusual airport building! I’m no expert on them but this isn’t like anything I’ve ever seen.

    • Suzassippi says:

      Apparently there were several during the heyday of Art Deco here–20-30s. The Depression ushered in Art Moderne, less flamboyant and more streamlined. It is a beautiful airport though–interior shots coming, but it is a lot to take in at once!

  2. Suzassippi says:

    So are you saying when I come to visit, I should come by ship? 🙂

  3. Sheryl says:

    What a lovely and interesting building. I don’t usually think of airport terminals from the perspective of architecture and design.

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