Page N3.2 . 10 August 2011                     
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    New Architecture in New Orleans


    Historically, Dumez explains, "a sense of community in the Quarter develops around your courtyard, which you might share with two, three, or four other residents in the same building." The traditional courtyard is reinterpreted at 930 Poydras as the building's ninth-floor "sky lobby," a double-height room that is cantilevered from the rest of the structure to offer stunning skyline and Mississippi River views.

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    Whether coming from the street level or the parking garage, residents travel by elevator to the lobby and must then walk its length to reach the elevator bay that serves the levels above, where the apartments are located. The lobby area of the 462,000-square-foot (42,900-square-meter) project features a coffee bar, movie projection, and comfortable, thoughtfully arranged furniture — all intended to increase the chance that residents will meet, interact, and socialize.

    Outside the lobby on the same level, the communal space continues in a large pool deck with a tiered wooden balcony, gas grills, and zero-irrigation landscaping. A row of two-bedroom townhouses encloses the patio space, giving the area an outdoor courtyard atmosphere that directly references the city's historic typology.

    The ground floor of 930 Poydras houses three large retail spaces, and levels two through eight serve as a well-disguised 500-car parking garage. As Dumez describes, many towers have "seamless building envelopes from top to bottom" that make it appear that the office and apartment levels above are equal in use and design to the parking levels.

    However, masking a parking garage in that way requires mechanical ventilation, which uses a significant amount of energy. The pursuit of sustainability prompted the firm to approach the garage design differently, as did budget constraints. "We were limited with the amount of glass we could afford to put in," Dumez says. "Why spend money glazing the garage when you want as much glass as you can have for the units?"

    Solving the design dilemma of the garage levels helped dictate the look of the building as a whole. The facade's metal sheets are strategically perforated on levels two through eight, allowing cross-ventilation in the parking garage, and freeing more of the budget for darkly tinted glass panels on levels nine through 21. The high-performance glazing enables daylighting in the residential units while minimizing solar gain, and the metal facade panels provide high-performance insulation.

    The window units also played a key role in the development of the facade composition. "Because the glass is dark, we selected metal wall panels that had a similar value," Dumez says. The matte-finish metal panels that fill in the facade between glass panels are a color somewhere between black and gunmetal gray, and they provide a textural and reflective contrast to the glass that changes with the path of the sun throughout the day.

    "In certain lights, the building has a very subtle shift in the way the windows and the wall interact," Dumez says. "And at night it's very different altogether — the building glows from the inside in a way that looks like scattered lanterns." Seeking to avoid a regular pattern, the architects played with the windows on each level as if they were beads on an abacus, with placement varying but still creating a unified overall look.

    High School for Algiers

    Eskew+Dumez+Ripple also designed L.B. Landry High School in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans. The new 900-student facility replaces a 70-year-old high school onsite that was demolished by the city's Recovery School District after damage from Hurricane Katrina following years of deferred building maintenance.

    The 236,000-square-foot (21,900-square-meter) new structure includes such amenities as a 1,000-seat competition gymnasium, 250-seat auxiliary gym, 650-seat auditorium, black-box theater, and special rehearsal spaces for dance, choir, and band.

    Like that of 930 Poydras, the school's design is derived in part from the local vernacular, with a courtyard serving as a main meeting space for students in the middle of the C-shaped building. Dumez explains that the old school also had a courtyard, but a fourth wall enclosed it, making the structure O-shaped.

    For the new school, the firm opted to open the complex to L.B. Landry Boulevard, one of neighborhood's main thoroughfares, both to bring views of the New Orleans skyline to students within the school and to make the building more inviting to the community as a whole.

    This last point speaks to a requirement from the school board that the structure house resources for the Algiers community, such as after-hours access to the school's health clinic and library/ media center.

    The building is expected to earn a LEED Silver rating under LEED for Schools. Over 90 percent of the building is daylit. Thanks to that and other sustainable design elements, the projected energy use of the building is 15.4 kilowatt-hours per square foot per year (166 kWh per square meter per year) — about 32 percent below ASHRAE 90.1-2004 specifications. Rainwater is collected in underground cisterns for use in irrigation. Additionally, 12 percent of the building materials have recycled content, and 22 percent were locally sourced.

    Green Vision for Lafitte Corridor

    The Lafitte Corridor served historically as a route for transporting goods by boat and rail between the French Quarter and Canal Boulevard. Today the three-mile (five-kilometer) corridor along the former Carondelet Canal is an underused expanse of vacant lots and industrial buildings, but its prime location has sparked interest in its redevelopment.

    Commissioned by the Friends of the Lafitte Corridor, Waggonner & Ball Architects developed strategies for sustainable water design within a proposed redevelopment that would reintroduce some of the area's historic uses and identities while contributing positively to the local hydrology.

    The Lafitte Greenway Sustainable Water Design, crafted by architects David Waggonner and Mac Ball and their associates, is the result of years of study of the geography of New Orleans, best water management practices, and Dutch water-sensitive design.   >>>

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...



    ArchWeek Image

    930 Poydras is a 21-story mixed-use tower comprising 250 apartments on the upper 14 floors, an above-ground 500-car parking garage, and ground-floor retail space.
    Photo: Timothy Hursley Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    The main double-height common space at 930 Poydras, which is located in the Central Business District of New Orleans and in the city's 3rd Ward.
    Photo: Timothy Hursley Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    930 Poydras section diagrams.
    Image: Eskew+Dumez+Ripple Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    The three-story L.B. Landry High School, located in the Algiers neighborhood (15th Ward) of New Orleans, was also designed by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple.
    Photo: Timothy Hursley Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Over 90 percent of interior spaces are daylit at Landry High School, which is targeting LEED Silver certification.
    Photo: Timothy Hursley Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    L.B. Landry High School site plan drawing.
    Image: Eskew+Dumez+Ripple Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Completed in 2010, the new 900-student Landry High School replaces a 70-year-old school building that previously stood on the same site.
    Photo: Timothy Hursley Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    L.B. Landry High School section drawings.
    Image: Eskew+Dumez+Ripple


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