Arthur Q. Davis and his partner, Nathaniel C. Curtis, opened their architectural firm in 1947, and made unforgettable changes to the look of New Orleans. Davis’ modernistic approach to design wasn’t easy to integrate into a city proud of its classic architecture, but his work has stood the test of time.
While the Louisiana Superdome is easily the most famous of their work, the Curtis & Davis firm was also responsible for the iconic designs of the New Orleans Public Library Main Branch, the Automotive Life Building and a large number of schools, hotels, businesses and private homes. They also designed St. Francis Cabrini Church and the award-winning Rivergate Exhibition Center, neither of which are still standing but are well-remembered and mourned.
Davis has also been involved in many more standout designs and renovations, including the New Orleans Arena, elements of Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola and Emeril’s restaurant. His work in local building, preservation and restoration has won him numerous awards.
Davis’ legacy extends beyond his buildings. He and his wife, Mary, sponsor The Arthur Q. and Mary Davis Visiting Critic program at the Tulane School of Architecture, and he has been an active sponsor of the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival and the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society. Davis also served as the honorary consul general of Thailand.
A more in-depth examination of Davis’ architectural contributions to New Orleans can be seen at the Ogden Museum exhibit “Arthur Q. Davis: Legacy of a Modern Architect” until July 19.