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The Architecture of James Means

by William R. Mitchell

  • ISBN: 9780932958228
  • ISBN10: 0932958222

The Architecture of James Means

by William R. Mitchell

  • List Price: $50.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Golden Coast Pub Co
  • Publish date: 10/01/2001
  • ISBN: 9780932958228
  • ISBN10: 0932958222
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Description: James Collier Means (1904-79), known simply as Jimmy, was a Georgia architect of the "old school"; he was a steadfast classicist when the suburban ranch house, with a streamlined Ford in the carport, had become an ideal for a postwar futuristic world. He once casually observed that a modern church building with an oddly angled metallic steeple was "unnecessarily ugly." This droll and definitive way of speaking endeared him to his clients, many of whom became his close friends, finding him and his work irresistible. His work was his life.

Means learned on the job, rather than in a college of architecture and was only a young teenager when he began to work part time as an office boy in 1917 with a premier Atlanta architectural firm, Hentz, Reid & Adler. By age fifteen he was drafting for the firm and was on his way to becoming a card-carrying member of the Georgia school of classicists. His credentials were based on his unique talents, experience, and knowledge rather than on registration with a state agency; he was not a member of the American Institute of Architects.

Means was one of the last of the master builders, the original meaning of architect. Not just capable of using the T-square, drafting paper, and pencil, he had also mastered the traditional tools of the carpenter-architect. He grounded his practice in the old ways of designing and building based in the human scale of the proportional systems of the classical orders and in enduring materials such as bricks, stone, and heart pine. He was a professional because he was a perfectionist, and people were drawn to him and his work for that reason, allowing him to earn a modest living as an architect for his entire adultlife.

The houses that Means designed and built from the early 1950s, when he returned to Atlanta to practice alone, without draftsmen or secretary, are the culmination of more than seventy years of Georgia classicism growing out of Hentz, Reid & Adler and Hentz, Adler & Shutze. Means, his clients, contractors, masons, mill-workers, and carpenters greatly enriched the tradition when few could still do it or afford it, or care.

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