Local Architects Shaping the New New Orleans

Contemporary architecture is making some welcome headway in post-Katrina New Orleans — at least if we look at the top four winners of this year’s New Orleans AIA Awards.

[Image via studiowta.com]

The Rebuild Center at St. Joseph Church, designed by Wayne Troyer Architects is a community resource center built from six trailers, organized around a courtyard and joined together by wood canopies & decking, as well as translucent polycarbonate screens. Compared to a “zen fishing camp” by the architect, The Rebuild Center was intended to stay open for 5 years, but with the slow reconstruction of New Orleans, it looks like it might be around just a bit longer than that…

[Image via Make it Right]

The above winning entry comes courtesy of Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, and is one of the local contributions to Brad Pitt’s “Make it Right” housing program. The energy-efficient design is a riff on the classic New Orleans shotgun, and can be somewhat customized to fit the tastes/needs of the owner.

[image via bildit.com]

Bild Design’s Lowerline residence is another twist on New Orleans vernacular — this time it’s the Camelback house that gets a thoughtful, contemporary update. The two-family home makes maximum use of its height in providing additional living space and river views.

[Image via Eskew+Dumez+Ripple]

Eskew+Dumez+Ripple also won the Urban Design category with their entry for the “Reinventing the Crescent” competition. When complete in 2016, their masterplan will be the largest continuous waterfront park in the city. Developers will work closely with the planners and architects to ensure that public are granted easy access to The River. The plan also includes the adaptive reuse of existing buildings, to help merge any new construction with the existing fabric of the city.

Preservation in New Orleans will always be necessary, but it’s nice to see that the city seems to be growing more open-minded about contemporary architecture. Perhaps EDR partner Steven Dumez put it best: “we are a city of architectural diversity and people love that diversity and sense that as ‘New Orleans.’ What is being designed now is a contemporary design for the city as it is now…and there is room for a new interpretation of New Orleans.”

&#183 N.O. architects lean to edgier, modern designs [New Orleans City Business]·
&#183 Modern in New Orleans [Life Without Buildings]·
&#183 The New New Orleans Riverfront [Life Without Buildings]

Modern in New Orleans


So I recently got a new bike and have since become addicted to just cruising around New Orleans. Despite its undeniably dodgy characteristics (i.e. murder), this really is a gorgeous city. Perfect for bicycle ridin’, picture takin’, and other activities that involve a dropped “g.” As you could probably guess, residential architecture here is steeped in history – both real and fake – but hidden away in the many neighborhoods are some contemporary gems – you just have to keep your eyes open, and it helps if you know where to look.

The above house was designed by local boy Byron Mouton, founder of Bild Design, and was featured in the October/Noverment 2004 issue of Dwell Magazine in their “modern across America” article. In all his residential projects, Mouton investigates the traditional New Orleans vernacular, and how it can be updated and reconfigured into a more contemporary design. The “bar and tower,” for example, find their origins in the New Orleans Camelback house – a design that was created to meet the needs of a family, while still accommodating zoning laws.

This house was designed by Stephen Jacobs, formerly a professor at the Tulane University School of Architecture. Jacob’s house also recalls local architecture – notice the roofline – but where traditional houses open themselves to the street, this house closes itself. In the front, south-facing facade, the corrugated metal is punctured only by a row of kitchen windows. The rear of the house, however, is composed of a three story, all steel and glass wall, illuminating the entire interior of the residence. With its triple height space, loft-like open plan, and complete lack of interior doors, natural light reaches almost every corner of the interior.

I know nothing about this house, and except for the photographed corner, it has few redeeming qualities (at least from the exterior) Nonetheless, it’s an effort to breathe new life into an over hundred-year-old neighborhood.

I’m hoping this will be a regular feature on the website. I’m also hoping to get a better camera soon. Regardless of photo quality, as long as my bike chain stays on, I’ll continue my search and half-assed documentation of the Modern in New Orleans.

&#183 More Posts on Modernism and contemporary architecture in New Orleans [Life Without Buildings]