The New New Orleans Riverfront

[image of the jazz center via the new york times]

An article in last week’s New York Times focused on some of the more ambitious projects planned for New Orleans, including Thom Mayne’s proposed Jazz Center, and a scheme for the river-front designed by TEN Arquitectos.Located in the Bywater, a neighborhood that was very much up-and-coming before Hurricane Katrina, The Press Street Landing by TEN Arquitectos is a small part of the larger six-mile-long park and mixed-use development planned along the Mississippi. You can read all about Mayne’s building and the Press Street project in the Times Article, but I’d actually like to draw your attention to the project that’s next door, as noted by the yellow arrow:

[image via The New York Times]

[photo via studiowta.com]

The existing building was once the largest Rice Mill in North America, and an impressive renovation has been proposed by local New Orleans firm, Wayne Troyer Architect. The adaptive reuse includes new commercial spaces and a variety of residential units. If built as designed, the Rice Mill would become the first multi-family LEED gold certified building in Louisiana. From their website:

The project raises the architectural design bar by implementing such building technologies as: solar energy power; wind power; passive cooling by introduction of a solar chimney and a series of open-air courtyards, excavated from the building’s central core; utilization of insulated, low-E glazing at openings; establishment of a cistern for reclamation and recycling of rainwater for irrigation; landscaping with native and indigenous species; interiors that capitalize on exposed wood/masonry structure while incorporating recycled and low or non-emitting VOC materials, and mechanical systems that provide the most efficient means of energy.

[image via studiowta.com

At the rear of the building, a cantilevered glass addition was inspired the the ubiquitous gantry cranes scattered along the Mississippi. A clever solution that acknowledges the surrounding context without resorting to a simple one-liner.

[image via studiowta.com

Troyer is no stranger to adaptive reuse projects like this. Many of WTA’s projects have involved modern interventions into historic New Orleans structures. The firm has developed a adroitness at balancing these potentially conflicting elements, an idea perhaps best summed up by another statement from the Rice Mill project page, “The notion driving the project is a promotion of revitalization and the acknowledgment of a key industrial, historical site, while interjecting innovation and quality design in the form of a mixed-use community.”

One Reply to “The New New Orleans Riverfront”

  1. What does everyone think of Mayne’s design? Adaptive reuse of buildings such as the rice mill and many of the proposals from the Riverfront plan are easier to integrate into New Orleans’ fabric. But as a New Orleanian I know firsthand the city’s complicated relationship with modernism. Several of the city’s landmark modern buildings–the Rivergate Convention Center (now Harrah’s Casino), the Plaza Tower (slated to be stripped down to its bones and condo-ized), and the WTC (the first WTC in the world, slated to be renovated into a $200M hotel)–are going or already gone. Mayne’s Jazz Center (and his other proposals for the city) will be in the Poydras high density corridor–does that make it more likely to be successful?

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