“Every so often, in a distant place, there comes into existence someone with individuality and refined genius. They live their life, not in a great city, at the centre of power. Instead in a quiet town… they choose to do their work: to solve problems with imagination, to create buildings of pleasing ornament and symmetry: to add to the sum total of beauty in the world.” - Peter Shaw, Louis Hay: Architect, 1999
James Augustus Louis Hay chose to set up his architectural practice in a place of beauty: the quiet, seaside town of Napier in Hawke’s Bay. Throughout the area, he stamped his mark with a range of buildings that aligned with international architectural innovations, particularly absorbing the modernist style of the American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.
After the devastating Hawke’s Bay 1931 earthquake, Louis Hay became a member of the newly formed Associated Architects and Napier Reconstruction Committees. The challenge of both was to rebuild the destroyed town in a sympathetic, modern style founded on the newly formed New Zealand building code. The quality of Louis Hay’s many surviving buildings give no doubt that he is one of the city’s most important architects.
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