Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Vote for Inter-Continental Motors and Modernism Texas-style

We need your help! Dedicated O'Neil Ford fans have entered an outstanding example of Texas Modernism to Dwell's Rethinking Preservation contest. A panel of judges will select the winner from the top ten entries that receive the most votes. Dwell will donate $10,000 to a worthy preservation organization. Follow this link to vote for it and help us spread the word.
The Intercontinental Motors Building at 3303 Broadway in San Antonio, Texas, is one of the last remaining examples of O’Neil Ford’s pure Texas Modernism. Glass-walled, light, and airy, the showroom, at its opening in 1964, was dubbed “One of the World’s Most Beautiful Dealerships” by Weathervane magazine. Now the building's glory days are a distant memory, waiting to be revived.

When the Intercontinental Motors Corporation moved its headquarters to San Antonio in 1964, the President, Charles F. Urschel, Jr., called his old friend O’Neil Ford to design the new building. At that point, Ford was well-reputed as a regionalist who built Texas buildings out of wood, tile, and stone. Ford, however, was also a Modernist. Close friends such as Urschel trusted Ford’s ability to blend Modern design with Texas materials.

After choosing a large, shaded lot just along the banks of the San Antonio River, Urschel and Ford’s design team constructed a front piece that would catch the eye of any citizen driving along down Broadway. Framed by two large trees, the front showroom gleamed with tall windows, Saltillo-tile porches, and polished metal from wall to wall. The most Miesian of Ford’s designs, the building still boasted some class Ford details, such as the concrete coffered ceiling.
Ford’s partner Howard Wong once said: “[Ford] couldn’t do a pure Mies building to save his life.” Pure Mies it may not be. It's better. Think commercial vernacular meets High Modernism - Texas-style. Inter-Continental Motors is an outstanding opportunity for the creative reuse of a dust-filled showroom, too long forgotten, to become an icon of popular Modernism once again.

Vote for Inter-Continental Motors. San Antonio deserves recognition and support for its modern architectural gems.

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