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]

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.”