Designed to vertically re-imagine the typically horizontal condition of New Orleans’ dense French Quarter blocks, the project is organized to create a communal amenity floor at the 9th level, reinterpreting the courtyard housing typology for urban, high-rise living. At this raised “courtyard” level, shuttle elevators transfer from garage to tower in order to instigate opportunities for residents to cross paths with one another in a shared, communal space as opposed to the typical, introverted experience found in most high-rise residential developments.
More photographs, drawings, and description of this 21 story, 462,000 square foot mixed-use residential project including ground floor retail and 250 residential apartments above a 500-car garage following the break.
Architect: Eskew+Dumez+Ripple Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States Mechanical Engineer: Mechanical Construction Co Structural Engineer: Morphy Makofsky Inc Electrical Engineer: Canzoneri & Associates Civil Engineer: Morphy Makofsky Inc Geotechnical Engineer: Eustis Engineering MEP Engineer: Moses Engineers (Contract Administration Only) Contractor: Gibbs Construction Company Client: Brian Gibbs Development, LLC Project Area: 462,000 sqf Project Year: 2010 Photography: Timothy Hurlsey
Departing from the oppressive efficiency and order of the commercial office towers surrounding it, the exterior envelope of the project incorporates a highly articulated metal panel and glass patterned façade. This façade treatment allows for a higher percentage of glazing at the upper residential floors, with a minimal amount of glass at the garage to maintain a seamless, while animated, composition. The proportion of windows and insulated metal panels are extended vertically over two floors, while vertical joints in the panels are shifted, giving the building a non-hierarchical pattern that reinforces the appearance of a monolithic skin. At the ninth floor living room, the entire double-height volume is wrapped in high-performance clear glass, reinforcing the transition from base to tower while providing expansive views of downtown.
Taking its inspiration from the social interaction found in the courtyards of the city’s historic quarter, the design consolidates all common tenant amenities at the ninth floor level as a means to condense their programmatic force. Anchoring this level is the sky lobby, a dramatic glass box that cantilevers out from the façade and offers spectacular views of the downtown skyline. This double-height lounge serves as an extension of the tenant’s living spaces, with coffee bar and movie screening lounge set among informal groupings of furniture. Outside the sky lobby is an expansive pool deck, with a tiered bleacher rising from the pool to a sunning platform at its top. Tucked beneath the bleachers is the facility’s fitness center. A series of townhouses along the south side – with front door access directly off the pool deck – create an architectural edge and produce the effect of a ground level courtyard on the garage rooftop.
Residents access this ninth floor level via elevators from the ground floor or parking garage. At the ninth floor, residents transfer to another bank of elevators that service the residential apartment floors of the project. The circulation path through this common lobby provides for chance interactions with other residents, creating a greater sense of community in a city unaccustomed to high-rise living.
The project is the first residential high-rise constructed in downtown New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina struck the city in August of 2005. The developer utilized Gulf Opportunity Zone tax incentives that were passed by Congress in the wake of the storm, intended to spur the region’s recovery. These GO Zone credits had a sunset clause that expired at the end of 2009, and forced a fast-track design and construction schedule that required that the project be placed into commerce by December 31, 2009. Partial temporary occupancy was granted in December 2009, and the first tenants moved into the building in March 2010. The project reached 100% occupancy, with all 250 apartments leased, in July 2010, an indicator of the city’s latent desire for higher density, downtown housing and a measure of the success of the project’s design.