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Burge and Stevens
Burge and Stevens (later Stevens and Wilkinson) was the initial partnership of an architectural firm, still active in the twenty-first century,
The Early Years
When Preston Stevens was a senior in Francis Palmer Smith's architecture program at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the young student decided to leave school to serve in World War I (1917-18). At the naval reserve base in Jacksonville, Florida, Stevens met Flip Burge, who had graduated from Georgia Tech's architecture program in 1915, and the two resolved to form an architectural partnership in Atlanta after the war.
As with other firms emerging from Smith's Beaux-Arts curriculum (Philip Shutze and Ivey and Crook, for example), it was no surprise that Burge and Stevens's earliest projects were traditional in style.
Beyond this conservatism, Burge and Stevens was from the start looking toward advanced and innovative design.
A Progressive Third Decade
James Wilkinson joined the practice in 1936. By the end of the decade progressive design tendencies were seen in such forward-looking projects as the Peachtree Hills Apartments (1938) and Price Gilbert Jr. House (1940, razed), both in Atlanta, and the College Park High School and Auditorium (1939), south of the city.
Peachtree Hills was a complex of flat-roofed modernist apartments with industrial wrap-around windows and balconies promising sunshine and fresh air in a housing unit that echoed the European International style projects of recent years. The rectangular, set-back blocks of multifamily housing formed U-shaped courts along a cul-de-sac that opened onto a broad green and an encircling road at its innermost end.
The Gilbert residence, a bachelor's pool retreat, was the most startling Modern house of the period in the state. The abstract planarity of the house was marked by pipe columns supporting flat roof slabs edged with "ship" rails and by large open wall planes with extensive glass.
The progressive aesthetic that characterized Burge and Stevens's design of College Park High School found its most significant fulfillment ten years later in Stevens and Wilkinson's E. Rivers Elementary School in Atlanta. The Rivers School was a model project that brought the firm literally hundreds of school commissions statewide in the following years.
Carol A. Flores, "The Early Work of Burge and Stevens, Stevens and Wilkinson, 1919-1949" (master's thesis, Georgia Institute of Technology, 1990).
Larry Keating and Carol A. Flores, "Sixty and Out: Techwood Homes Transformed by Enemies and Friends," Journal of Urban History 26, no. 3 (March 2000): 275-311.
Gerald Sams, AIA Guide to the Architecture of Atlanta (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1993).
Preston Standish Stevens Sr., Building a Firm: The Story of Stevens and Wilkinson, Architects, Engineers, Planners, Inc. (Atlanta: n.p., 1979).
Stevens and Wilkinson Inc., Architects, Engineers: Selected Work [Formerly Burge & Stevens] (Atlanta: n.p., 1958).
Robert M. Craig, Georgia Institute of Technology
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.