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The History of Breeze Blocks by Ron and Barbara Marshall

Karin Jeske

Breeze Blocks, which exploded in popularity in the 1950s through the 1970s, and are ideal for separating and defining spaces while providing sun protection and maintaining openness, ventilation and airflow, are once again seeing a resurgence in popularity.

In their well-researched book, "Concrete Screen Block: The Power of Pattern," published and sold by the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation, Ron and Barbara Marshall outline the fascinating story of the Breeze Block, one of the most recognizable building materials chosen by architects building in the "modern" or "contemporary" styles of the mid-20th century. Packed full of new and vintage photos, this book chronicles the history of how screen block exploded onto the architectural scene.  A notable prior example of the use of breeze blocks is in the grand, non-load bearing "curtain walls" adorning the Cathedral Notre-Dame du Raincy in Le Raincy, France, completed in 1923, and designed by architect Auguste Perret (photo below by Richard Anderson).

Cathedral RaicyThe intense interest in Breeze Blocks as a building material in the late 1950s was influenced by their use in the U.S. State Department Office in New Delhi, designed by Architect Edward Durell Stone, and completed in 1959 (pictured below, photo by Soumya S. Das), and discusses some of the architectural precedents, including Brise-Soleil in France, Sudare in Japan, Mashrabiyah in Arab countries, and Qamariyah in India, at the Taj Mahal.

US State Dept New Delhi

Although Roger Stone successfully patented the "Empress Ornamental Wall Block" in 1959, his design had already been widely manufactured and sold in local markets across the US, and he ultimately declined to pursue litigation.  Empress similar to the Roudabout 7.5" and Rotary 11.4" styles in the Tesselle Breeze Block Collection.

Tesselle Breeze Blocks

In the 1960's an advertising campaign entitled "Fashion your Future in Screen Block" took hold, and a variety of striking styles were marketed under exotic names, with the epicenter of the industry being in Southern California. Prominent manufacturers included the North Hollywood Concrete Tile Company, General Concrete Products and Basalite.  Because of their weight, most Breeze Blocks were made and sold in local markets, and mid-century installations can also be found in Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Washington and Washington, DC.

Breeze Blocks were also documented as having been used indoors as early as the 1960s.

At Tesselle, we were excited, in 2019, to bring dozens of Breeze Block styles, both classic and new, back to North America.  Our blocks are manufactured in Asia, and warehoused in Ontario, California.  Our collection includes 2 sizes, Small (7.5" square x 2.5" deep), and Large (11.4" square x 3.5" deep), and eight colors.  All pricing includes delivery within the lower contiguous US states, and you can save up to 30% with our Buy More, Save More offer, which is explained on each product page.  If you need more blocks than we have in inventory, the lead time will be approximately 12 weeks, and if you would like a quote for less than our minimum, or with delivery to other locations, please call us at 951-781-3000 or email us at info@tesselle.com.  Pictured below, Clover Breeze Blocks by Tesselle, laid out in a random color pattern.

Breeze Blocks in Colors by Tesselle



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