New Architecture in New Orleans
by Danielle Del Sol
Located on one of the busiest thoroughfares in the Central Business District of New Orleans, the apartment building at 930 Poydras was designed to translate the dense, communal atmosphere of the French Quarter into a tower.
To achieve that effect, architecture firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple incorporated generous, well designed common spaces into the 250-unit, 21-story building.
This chic downtown high-rise belongs to the diverse group of projects chosen by the New Orleans chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for the chapter's 2011 design awards. From a high school to an emergency shelter and a DIY chicken coop, the projects vary widely. But many share a drive toward sustainability, as well as a modern design aesthetic, with clean lines, geometric shapes, and a play of textures.
While their modern shapes may fool you, many of this year's award-winning designs were also profoundly influenced by the architectural vernacular of New Orleans, which includes courtyards, horizontal density, and shotgun houses.
Such features and typologies respond to the tropical climate and foster community interaction, making them apt models for locally adapted contemporary design.
Vertical Density on Poydras
"New Orleans doesn't really have a high-rise typology," explains architect Steve Dumez. In designing 930 Poydras, the designers wanted to use architectural precedents to inform the building's design — "not necessarily stylistically, but in terms of how people live."
But a typical skyscraper form, in which residents enter a small lobby and travel directly to their floor, didn't seem like a desirable or appropriate model for New Orleans. So, the architects looked to the city's French Quarter.
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