In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy I was glad to see that the Wildwoods Shore Resort Historic District in New Jersey made it through relatively unscathed. This got me thinking about some of our lost motels on the Mississippi Gulf Coast that were similar to New Jersey’s preserved “Doo-Wop” style motels. Here on MissPreservation.com Tom Barnes tale of the Buena Vista Hotel/Motel is one of the more popular posts of all time, specifically the 15th most popular as of this writing. You might say “What could make this post more popular?” and I would answer “Why a Hyperbolic Paraboloid!” Well at least I think a Hyperbolic Paraboloid would complete the building. Its got everything but a funky shape. Apparently the Buena Vista Motel’s 1956 design team from the Jackson firm of Biggs, Weir & Chandler would agree with me, because they included one in their original design. An article in the March-April 1956 edition of Down South Magazine highlighting hotel expansions on the Mississippi Gulf Coast prominently featured these Biggs, Weir & Chandler architectural renderings of the proposed Buena Vista Motel expansion.
Now you might ask “What does one do in a Hyperbolic Paraboloid?” From our previous posts we’ve found that Mississippian’s are capable of living, banking, and worshiping in Hyperbolic Paraboloids, but the Buena Vista’s Hyperbolic Paraboloid was designed for, as the Down South Magazine article caption puts it, “Refreshment and Relaxation”.
As Mr. Barnes states in the earlier Buena Vista post:
“An elaborate dining room was to have been built, topped by a concrete dome, making it the epitome of modern design. The dining room was also to have a stream flowing through it with rock gardens and lush foliage throughout. The pleasure dome never quite made it off the drawing boards…”
The space looks like it has all of that and more. After you received your refreshment at the cabana bar you could walk across the little foot bridge to the dining area and gaze up past all the funky light fixtures, the Mondrian and Sputnik inspired mobiles, through the holes in the ceiling, to the Hyperbolic Paraboloid while listening to the piano player at the dance floor. The motel was a success even without the Hyperbolic Paraboloid over the Refreshment and Relaxation Area. With the Buena Vista expansion price tag at $600,000.00 dollars in 1956 (almost 5 million dollars in 2012) I can see why an expensive Hyperbolic Paraboloid was axed from the project. So keep your eyes out for architectural renderings folks, because you never know what might have been.